Ask Magpie: Spring Fitness Favorites.

By: Jen Shoop

I wrote last month that I’d ordered these Splits59 Airweight leggings that so many people had raved about, and received a few requests for review. They are fantastic, and easily in my top three favorite pairs of leggings, alongside Lululemon Aligns and ColorfulKoalas. Detailed notes below:

Splits59 Airweight Leggings (seen above). These are more compressive than Lululemon Aligns, though they boast a similar ultra-soft, almost “brushed” handfeel. They hold you in / feel more snug and contouring than Aligns. They almost feel like wearing tights? I think these might be the most versatile leggings you can buy because they have no sheen and do not read as “athletic wear” (though that is my principle use case for them). You could easily wear these as a casual legging with a sweater/sweatshirt and not look like you’re en route to the gym. The notes on the site claim: “these super-soft Splits59 leggings are made for your workout but polished enough for whatever comes after,” and they hit the nail on the head. I love the silhouette. I would say these run TTS — I took an XS — but the fit is, as noted above, a bit more compressive than I was expecting so they feel snug (though not restrictive). I have run in these but they feel better-suited to yoga/pilates/core/mat exercise purely from a sweat standpoint. I finish my run and I am drenched. These leggings can tolerate sweat but they just feel like they’re meant for low-impact mat exercise — a slightly more polished vibe that isn’t meant for mud?

Lululemon Aligns. A favorite favorite. The most comfortable legging I own — not as compressive as Splits59, especially in the waist area, very stretchy, with an ultra-soft handfeel. Some Magpies have written to say they’ve worn these comfortably all throughout their pregnancies, though I wore primarily post-partum and beyond. I think the sizing on these is forgiving/semi-elastic, but I generally size up in Lululemon, and have pairs of these in both a 2 and a 4 that fit wonderfully (and…identically, to be honest? I can’t tell which are 2s and which are 4s). My personal preference is to go one size up from my normal size (a 0) in most Lululemon pieces, and two sizes up during postpartum. I find this brand runs pretty narrow/tight, and I’m petite to begin with–and life is definitely too short for too-tight fitness wear. Yuck. Would rather round up here. Every time I admit this, people tell me I shouldn’t be doing it, but I do run in these, and happily. I know they are not designed to be running leggings, but I’ve run in them for years and years and find them delightful jogging companions. No cinching or pinching, but they never fall down at the waist / feel like they’re falling off either. These are also my go-to leggings for when I’m home on a cold/rainy night and want to curl up in a big sweatshirt with comfortable leggings. Finally, I generally find Lululemon pieces are incredible quality. I have leggings of theirs from eight or nine years ago that still wear like new, and I will admit I don’t always launder them as recommended. (I often toss in the laundry with non-performance wear and then dry…and they’re still great. You are supposed to launder performance wear with other performance wear, and then hang dry.) A great investment.

ColorfulKoala Leggings. Honestly, these are fantastic running leggings. They are flattering, comfortable, have a good amount of stretch, and I love the price point (around $26), which makes me feel comfortable taking them out for muddy/rainy runs. Strangely, some of the colors look more like spandex/have more sheen (my black and camo pairs), and some look more matte (pastels). These claim they have a “buttery soft texture” that led me to assume they’d feel like Lululemons, but they’re not the same brushed/soft handfeel (more traditional performance legging feel)–but I don’t mind. These are straight-up great inexpensive leggings. I just checked and I bought my first two pairs in September 2020. I’m currently wearing the first pair I bought and they’re still kicking, and I wear them probably once a week or once every other week to run in. I’ve just recently noticed that some of the material at the waistband is pilling a bit, but after 2.5 years of heavy service, for $26, I feel like that’s a fair run! (And I’ll continue to wear with the pilling anyway.) You can take your true size in these.

I have to give a runner up vote to Tracksmith’s Turnover Tights. I live in these during the colder months — they are specifically designed for winter runs with a proprietary material that is insulating but bulkless, and they do deliver on that front. I find myself warm enough even in 10, 15 degree weather. However. I have found that these do not hold up fantastically. You are not supposed to launder them often (and I did not), and I carefully followed the care instructions, and still they pilled and the waistband is kind of snaggy. I also don’t love the tight waistband to begin with — it has an almost elastic waist that I’m sure is designed to keep everything in place / less frictional during longer runs — but I find it mildly uncomfortable. You have to size up in these if you have any curves. I took a S instead of an XS.

For sports bras, I have tried so many brands and always come back to my cheap C9 x Champions. I don’t need a ton of support, and these are just so comfortable. Nothing digging into your skin or shoulders. I prefer the styles and colors Lululemon has on offer, but generally find their bras are not that comfortable. Even if I size up, I’ve just never found one I loved, and I’ve tried probably four or five of theirs. (I still wear them when I want to look cute!). If I’m doing yoga/mat/cycling, I love these Beyond Yoga cropped racerback tanks. They are SO comfortable and so cute! But they aren’t right for running.

For running tops, I LOVE these $12 tanks from Target. They are super-soft, come in great colors, and I love the loose fit. When I want something more snug (e.g., layering during winter months, or to pair with looser fit shorts), I love the Swiftly Tech long sleeve and short sleeve tops from Lululemon, and for really cold days, Tracksmith’s Brighton tops, which are a merino wool blend that really keeps you warm (but is highly breathable and soft).

For running shorts, I like Lululemon’s Hotty Hot shorts in the 4″ rise. I size up (per note above) to 2 or 4. I’ve been hearing good things about these inexpensive ones from Amazon, so just ordered a pair to test. Will report back.

For socks, I like Nike’s crew socks (tall) or Feetures (low). Both are super-plush, soft, snug. The feetures are the best low-rise running socks I’ve ever used. They stay in place and offer a good amount of cushion.

I need to run with a cap to keep the sun out of my eyes — I like the Nike moisture-wicking performance ones.

For shoes, I’m still a Nike girl. I’ve been meaning to go get properly fitted at a running shop for ages and ages, but my Nikes are still doing it for me, and why mess with a good thing? I’ve dabbled in a few other brands and they’ve left me with mild injuries / I can feel the impact on my gait. So I’m sticking with what works: Nike’s Infinity Reacts. I think I’m on my fourth or fifth pair? They are ultra-lightweight and wear almost like a sock with their mesh upper, but the base offers more support than previous styles of theirs I’ve tried. I love them. And they come in such great colors, several of which are on sale at the moment.

On My Radar for Spring Fitness + Athleisure.

My cart is full of repeat buys and new finds for the spring running season. Below, my top picks!

spring athleisure outfits


P.S. On getting back into a running groove.

P.P.S. To the athlete at the start line.

P.P.P.S. It’s their day, too.

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4 thoughts on “Ask Magpie: Spring Fitness Favorites.

  1. LOVE these thorough reviews! So very helpful. I love Beyond Yoga’s cropped “darkest night” spacedye leggings (on me, they’re ankle-length — I have 3 pairs!) but have been meaning to finally take the plunge on a pair of Align leggings, since I have 2 pairs of Align bike shorts that I live in during the summer. And I’m eyeing those Splits59 leggings, too, since I think I only really have room for one more pair, currently, and I want to go for navy!

    I haven’t been running lately (usually my exercise comes from cycling + walks), but I totally feel your pain on injuries after testing out new shoes … that happened to me twice in the past 2 years and now I never want to stray from my tried-and-true running shoes (Hoka Cliftons!) Once you know what works, it makes sense to stick with it.


  2. Can confirm as a former lulu employee that you are indeed meant to size up one from your regular size! A feature, not a bug.

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