fitness

Your contoured fancy gym pants are basically bullshit.

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Not since Olivia Newton John’s Physical heyday has gym attire been such a big deal.

Take one look at your Instagram feed and you’ll see a parade of fitness selfies showcasing flashy running shoes and crop tops with cool patterns. But the sporting garment with the most cachet right now has to be gym pants (or leggings, whatever you like to call them).

RELATED: Gym clothes: The things you need, and the things you definitely do not

Where once upon a time it was perfectly acceptable to exercise in a pair of floppy tracky dacks, modern workout pants are a wonder to behold, all decked out with resilient materials and body-smoothing contours and solar panels and X-ray vision and other flashy features. Certain brands and designs (hello, Lululemon yoga pants) have achieved cult status in recent years — not to mention ‘acceptable brunch attire’ status.

Are expensive gym pants better

Yet there's one big downside: fancy pants can really eat into your savings, costing upwards of $100 a piece (that's a conservative amount, too — some people are forking out $454 for certain designs). So is it worth the investment? Or will your trusty $7 Kmart tights do the trick, leaving you with a spare $93 to stick in your 'Tropical Island Holiday Savings' jar?

Well, it seems we have an answer; the website Choice has conducted an investigation to find out whether money really does buy you a better quality gym pant.

RELATED: The fitness accessories you need – and the ones you really don’t

Choice examined seven pairs of leggings, ranging in price from $7.50 to $109, from a variety of popular brands and stores: Kmart, Cotton On, Big W (the Michelle Bridges range), Adidas, Nike, Lorna Jane and Lululemon.

Each design was tested to determine the quality of the fabric used, considering its stretch recovery, colourfastness to washing, pilling, moisture wicking, seam strength and stitching.

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Are expensive gym pants better
Yep, stretch is important...

Although the two cheapest pairs didn't fare spectacularly well in the stretch, stain or stitching stakes (although these designs weren't marketed specifically as sporting tights), a higher price didn't necessarily equate to higher quality fabric. The Lorna Jane and Lululemon pants — $99.99 and $109, respectively — were beaten to the top three spots by the Adidas, Nike and Big W tights. However, it was decided they boasted the best construction out of all the leggings.

"Overall, given the trend towards sportswear as fashion, it's likely that the extra dollars you fork out may well be for style or brand rather than quality," writer Jemma Castle concludes. And if you're into those things, go for it. We're not here to tell you not to treat yo'self to the gym clothes you love and trust.

RELATED: The only fitness app you need for 2015

However, at the same time, that finding doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to being $100 poorer. In fact, the Most Valuable Player in this round was awarded to a more affordable pant.

Paula Rogers, a partner at the Apparel and Textile Industries Group, nominated the Big W Michelle Bridges One Active Melange tight as the best value for money, thanks to their "good construction and nice detailing".

Are expensive gym pants better
Good enough for Michelle? Good enough for us.
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Those pants? They cost just $35 – one third of their fancy counterparts. Yep, this is probably be the best fitness-related news we've heard since the reports that free smartphone apps can count your steps just as well as a FitBit.

If you're interested, there are a few reasons why expensive brands charge more for their sports attire. The fabric used largely determines the price, as does product development and marketing.

What's your gym pant of choice?

And, to save you even more money, here's our investigation into the fitness accessories you do and don't need. Thank us later:

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