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A History Of Dodgy Fitness Wear: ILU To The Rescue

I am such a lucky girl. And I feel very grateful that brands want to work with little me. Last month, I was admiring Avril over on School Gate Style's new fitness wear and this month I get to try it out for myself. A massive whoop!

Jo at ILU asked me to review a couple of pieces from the current range. Warts and all, performance, endurance (now now, don't get excited, I'm not doing the Ironman challenge or anything) and style.

I chose the Signature Compression Leggings and matching Back To Fitness Top from the Active Range.

ILU Back To Fitness Top
ILU Signature Compression Leggings 
Ok, let's look at the top. You see it's a bit clever. It's made up of 2 layers, an inner vest which holds everything in place (use your imagination please because I ain't showing anything). It's a good length as well, I've pulled it up in the above photo but it more than covers the bum. The outer layer which is kind of like a bib has two purposes. Firstly it skims the body so covers up the sausage-esque under-layer (that's a big tick in the confidence stakes for anyone with wobbles) and secondly, it looks lovely. Simple as. It's probably one of the most feminine sports tops I've owned. There's a subtle pattern on the outer layer which continues around the back which crosses over, all edged in lovely vibrant turquoise.

I think the back view deserves a picture all of it's own.

You know the sad thing, I can't see the back when I'm wearing it!

I left it to Jo to send me the appropriate size. She sent a S/M. Eeeeek, that's what Avril had, I'm way bigger than her. Of course it fitted like a dream. There's a lot of stretch in that top.

It's a great item to add to any girl's wardrobe whether she's already a gym bunny, going back to fitness (can't say enough how much confidence that front panel gives you) or for the trend in Athleisure wear, you know when you put gym kit on and don't actually do exercise.

And the leggings? Well Jo claimed that they wouldn't ride down even with a several sets of lunges. Hmmmm, she hasn't got my non-existent waist and even more absent bum. Obviously, I would be subjecting them to a tough challenge.

Regardless, the design is fantastic. I'm all for an asymmetric stripe which apparently lifts and flatters your figure. You see that little stripe on each leg actually tricks the eye and gives the illusion of a longer, slimmer line. Clever huh?

**Check out those matching trainers - detail ladies, it's all about the detail.

So, I took the dog out for a run. Well, a gentle jog really, he's getting on a bit now. Also requires lots of wee and sniff stops (note to self, leave dog at home next time).  And I can report that the leggings didn't move one jot. How can that be so? Sports leggings are normally the bane of my life. Constantly hitching that lycra up, it drives me insane. In fact, I ended up keeping them on and forgot about them all day. Ok so I'm impressed.

As you can see.

Love the fact that they have a decent rise too and the wider waist band holds in the muffin top. I'm wearing a S/M. There's still plenty of stretch and surprisingly a very good length.

This is the suggested size guide.

I'm generally a size 10 sometimes a 12 in smaller brands and the SM is perfect.

Another brand that designs for real women! That's two on the blog this week.

Anyway, if you're interested, I've listed my fitness history.

1. My chosen sport at school was netball. I started out at Centre, was moved to Wing Attack and then the bench. Had I not been so small (I was still growing at 18) and there had been the investment in netball that we see now, I swear I'd have been up there. World class in the Olympics. What? It's not in the Olympics? Darn it, foiled at the first hurdle. Nylon navy skirt, white polo and yellow bib. Wouldn't win any design awards but pretty inoffensive.

2. I joined my first gym at the age of 17. It was ladies only on a Saturday morning. There were no instructors and I hadn't a clue what I was doing. I hated it. It was 1983 and perfectly acceptable to wear a bright blue leotard, leg warmers (plus optional sweatshirt headband). I doubt leggings had been invented so the leotard was worn on it's own. Squats were executed with care. I have hazy memories of being bare foot too. Leg warmers strategically placed over the heel for maximum style!

3. In my early twenties, I discovered step aerobics and loved it, progressing to an advanced level very quickly. That meant 3 blocks on either side of the step. It was the era of cropped tops and pants worn over cycle shorts (what was that all about) and I found a lady that made the two pieces to my exact specification. Oh I had a plethora of matching tops and bottoms in a riot of colours. Calf muscles eventually bulged and I started to resemble a Russian shot putter so that put paid to that idea.

4. And then the children came and it all gets a little bit foggy.

5. When the son turned one, I came out of the haze of nappies and sleepless night and we joined David Lloyd in Leeds on a family membership. Tried the gym again. Nope, it wasn't happening although I liked the indoor running track. Trouble was, it was next to the free weights and the big burly fellas frightened the hell out of me. Turns out I much preferred the weekend barbecues by the outdoor pool. This was the era of baggy t-shirts and leggings. Trust me, no one needed to see my 12 months post-partum belly.

6. We moved over to Cheshire and handily a stones throw away from our local health club. No excuses then. After a proper induction and weekly follow-ups, I finally got the hang of the gym, still hated it and the classes didn't fair much better. Husband bought me some personal trainer gift vouchers. I exchanged them for credit on my membership card. They do a mighty fine fajita, and a bottle of Pinot Gritio is very reasonable. You get change from one PT session. Lasted ages that credit did. Mind you, I had 'all the gear, no idea'. Nike, Adidas, Sweaty Betty. You name it, I bought it. I'd buy a basic set and then add every version in the collection; vest top, cap sleeve, long sleeve, leggings with stripe, leggings without stripe. You get the picture.

7. Stuck the gym for a few years and then discovered I preferred running outdoors. It nearly killed me but I stuck at it. Was sensible and used gear in number 6 above.

8. Joined the local tennis club. Discovered hand to eye co-ordination was not up to scratch. Funnily enough, I managed the Friday afternoon Pimms session without too much trouble. Purchased required whites and for a while, loved Wednesday Cardio Tennis. But then it got too competitive. I mean my coach actually wanted me to start playing against other people. Pah, what's that all about? Jacked that in although I'm still occasionally haunted by him asking me to go back. He has targets to meet. My tennis drawer is very tempting too, there's one particular Stella McCartney top that looks lovely with a white and fuchsia skirt.

9. Tried yoga. The room was air conditioned, it was freezing and we barely moved other than to put our bodies into weird positions: trees and bridges and upward facing dogs. Two sessions and I was out. Although I did research yoga gear!

10. Took up running again and then a persistent back injury put me out earlier this year. So, the plan is to see a physio, strengthen my stomach muscles (which are non-existent) to take some of the stress off my lower back. And then get back to it properly. Wish me luck xx

I'll be back after the weekend to talk to you about a High Street shop that seems to have most of the emerging trends covered. Any ideas which one?

Have a lovely weekend, apparently we're in for a monsoon or something.

6 comments on "A History Of Dodgy Fitness Wear: ILU To The Rescue"
  1. Do the leggings have a tie inside the waistband? I've lost count of the amount of capri / full length leggings I've purchased (online admittedly without seeing them IRL) that don't have a tie and they just don't stay up (even in the right size / size down). Nothing more flattering than the crotch of your trousers down by your knees after a few miles and constantly having to hoick them up...

    Also, an inside or zip pocket for my key / parkrun barcode is really important as well. I've buried my front door key in the front border so many times after heading out in shorts / skort / leggings with no pocket!

    Fussy bugger aren't I? :-)

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    2. Ha ha the trials and tribulations of an expert runner Lou! No tie but honestly not needed. I don't know how they stay up because none of mine have ever stayed up before. The fabric feels different to Nike and Adidas - they are polyamide/polyester/elastane mix. Maybe that's it. There's a longish pocket on the left hand side of the hip on the outside of the leggings. I've never seen one like this before - it's obviously cleverly designed as it's deep so no worries of losing your key. Don't know how big a barcode is but you'd easily fit a credit card in there if that's any help x

  2. Donna, I am loving this post! I have been searching for some decent (and flattering!) gym wear for ages. Heading over to ILU now to have a browse!

    P.S Your fitness history made me laugh. I miss playing netball but don't think I can sacrifice my nails nowadays!!

    1. Oh the nails. I remember them well. That's the downside to netball. Hope you find something you like on ILU x

  3. This is just a wonderful post. The work out clothes from this brand are adorable and perfect for physical activities. I also have black yoga clothes and I feel so comfy in this. These quality clothes make my movements quite easy.