Unconventional Workout Clothes Might Be Poised for a Comeback

Turn out leather pants can be athleisure

Cliff Young
Cliff Young running in boots.
Glenn Barnes / Newspix via Getty Images

The record-setting ultramarathoner Cliff Young had, by all accounts, an unconventional approach to training. As the Sydney Morning News reported in 1983, when Young first made headlines for winning an ultramarathon between Sydney and Melbourne, Young trained by wearing “the heaviest gumboots he could find.” He was a farmer by trade, so finding heavy boots was not an issue.

Young is far from the only person to go off the beaten path when choosing clothing to work out in. Lenny Kravitz recently posted a video of himself working out in leather pants to Instagram. Most people would not dream of working out in leather pants; Lenny Kravitz makes it look good. And he, too, is not alone — at The Guardian, Chloe Mac Donnell explored the phenomenon of people whose ideal workout uniform is wholly unexpected.

Among the others cited in the article is actor Richard E. Grant, who has been known to run while wearing a collared shirt. Mac Donnell notes that some observers made an astute observation about Grant’s approach to working out in unconventional gear, which is to say: the ideal workout gear might be whatever makes you feel comfortable enough to excercise.

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It’s an idea that’s in keeping with some other schools of thought about how the mind and body work together while excercising. A 2023 Slate article by Kiley Price pointed to a growing number of gyms that are doing away with mirrors. Why? Because of the negative effect that they can have on your headspace, which can translate to issues with how you work out. Perhaps we can learn similar lessons from an unexpected choice of workout attire.

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