What to Wear to Energize Your Workout Habits

I’m finding it very motivating to have exercise clothes that I actually look forward to wearing. One of my goals this year is to walk 45 minutes a day, four-five times a week, rain or shine. If the weather is nice, I’ll walk outside…but during our torrential rain storms, I’m heading for the gym.


My feet are always challenging, so I ordered several pairs of sneakers to try on. One pair was too wide, one pair was hard to slip my foot into, and one pair didn’t have enough cushioning for my tired feet. In true Goldilocks fashion, I found these Ryka Devotion X Walking Shoes are the perfect combination and super comfy.

I wouldn’t have thought socks could make a difference in foot comfort, but I’ve found these arch-hugging BOMBAS ANKLE SOCKS seem to help with foot fatigue. They’re also very stretchy, which is a plus because I hate having my toes get scrunched when I slip my foot into shoes.

Ryka is the first brand to create athletic shoes specifically for a woman’s unique foot shape, muscle movement, and build. They also make a large selection of sporty casual, hiking, running, trail walking, and waterproof athletic footwear in different width options you can see here. I also spotted these highly-rated sporty shoes in M, W, and WW for casual outfits with a small hidden wedge for a tiny height boost.

I have these classic LOW TOP SNEAKERS on order for casual day wear. The phrase ” exceptional cushioning” sealed the deal for me, and the color is so pretty.

I bought this Zella cozy wrap jacket to keep me warm on my way to and from the gym and on dry days when I walk outside. I also love it when I’m hanging out at home on a damp day. It has a dramatic large collar you can snug around your neck or wear open and drapey. This comes in three colors; I’m wearing the Ivory Dove Heather, which has flecks of very pale gray in it. Even though this is oversized, I don’t suggest you size it down, or you could lose the slouchiness it’s intended to have.


This super soft top has thumbhole cuffs to keep your hands warm and is made from recycled fibers with spandex. I bought my usual size M, but I think I could have worn the L too, because I like my tops loose when I get overheated. I also like that it has a high neck so I can bend over to stretch and not feel like I’ll be exposed.


I love the fit and feel of these Zella ankle pants. They have pockets which I love in ALL garments; they’re a stretchy woven fabric (from recycled fibers) and have slim legs. I also have these wider legs cropped ones which are cute and airy in warm weather. Form-fitting leggings are great for yoga, but for walking or going to the gym, this is my preferred shape.



Many of you readers suggested I give joggers a try, so I ordered these Vuori Performance Joggers, and I love them. A benefit I hadn’t considered with the jogger style is the length. The Vuori fabric is so amazingly soft and lightweight that I could live in it all day!

My husband got me this larger version of the Hydroflask, which I keep in my car, full of clean water, in case I forget my smaller version. Drinking more water is also on my goal list for 2023.

I also bought this lightweight, water-resistant, quilted jacket made with 100% recycled polyester. It comes in 4 colors; this is navy. I love that Nordstrom carries so many garments made from sustainably sourced materials! This is machine washable, with side zips for ease of movement.

Nordstrom is one of my favorite places to shop because their selection is amazing, and its customer service can’t be beaten. They offer free shipping and returns every day, along with curbside pickup and free basic alterations. I highly recommend joining their Nordy Club, free to join here, which allows you to earn points towards Nordstrom notes you can spend on future purchases. I like to save my notes until I have enough to treat myself to something special. Something I wouldn’t ordinarily buy for myself, so it almost feels like a gift!

How are you upping your wellness game in 2023? Please share in the comments.


  1. I have worn Ryka tennis shoes for a few years, and they are SO comfy! Loved that you featured a slim straight leg knit workout pant for walking. Please feature any other brands you find that are similar. I don’t want to wear a tight fit legging, nor do I want a wide leg pant while walking. Your walking photos have inspired me to be more dedicated to my walking regimen!

  2. Francesca B says:

    I am walking every day 2/3 miles 6 days a week and doing a 1/2 weight lifting class and a stretch class. Since Covid l have been following a fitness program at home in my son’s bedroom and it is so nice to not get in the car and “bag” a space. I bought my daughter the Zella quilted coat and she loved it and bought the Vuori performance joggers for my son and daughter in Alaska- very bright colors- and they loved them so it was a successful gift giving holiday! The Zella drawstring pants are really nice too last year l bought them in green hope they do more colors. Happy day Jennifer 🙂

    1. Good for you!! I’m only doing 2 miles so far, but I intend to do more.

  3. I just purchased my first pair of Ryka athletic shoes a few months ago. I find myself picking out what to wear to match my Rykas rather than picking out shoes to go with my outfits!!

  4. Thank you for the introduction to Ryka, I’m going to have to give them a try. I’m a nurse and I walk on my days off so I put a lot of mileage on my feet/shoes. My podiatrist introduced me to Hokas. They too have a wide toe box and good arch support and I’ve worn them exclusively for 5 years.

    1. I ordered the low sneaker by Ryka in bright white. I wear a 6 1/2 in Merrill’s but usually have to go up a half size in sneakers. I was a nurse for 30 years and retired because of peripheral neuropathy. I didn’t see where I could order this shoe in wide so we will see.. I do wear Smart Wool socks in a crew during the winter.

    2. I know a lot of people love Hokas,

  5. As a former runner, I always go to a store with knowledgeable salespeople, like a specialty running store. Brands make different shoes for different types of feet and activities so just trying on what feel comfortable may not always be the best for your foot structure. For example I pronate so I get shoes with a lot of stability and motion control.

    1. I agree. I just can’t drive 79 miles to Nordstroms to try on shoes. I unfortunately have to do Goldilocks via online shopping. I am grateful to Jennifer for trying on many styles and helping me to narrow my purchases.

    2. Excellent point, Donna

  6. The podiatrist recommended the Altra Paradigm for my aging feet with issues. I love them!

  7. Wow you are going to be really styling out there! I went to Fleet Feet to get fitted for walking and trail shoes. I found New Balance to be a good walking shoe for me and Karhu for walking when I need a good tread in our winter weather. We started walking every day during COVID and I’m proud to say we have kept it up. I love Zella clothing too. They have great golf outfits. Thanks for the great ideas and good luck!!

    1. My New Balance are just about shot, but I love them too. So cushiony

  8. Thanks for making exercise wear such fun and for introducing me to Ryka brand.

  9. I will go try on a pair of Rykas. My feet need a wide toe box.
    I wear athletic pants and tops all the time, because I go to gym most days. The material holds up well, and I save my good clothes when I go out with friends. I use the gym more, because I have allergies , or the weather outside is not good here. I have found repetitive walking on pavement not good for joints.

    1. I agree, the treadmill is easier on my knees and hips

  10. Thanks for this article, Jennifer! I also love Bombas. I have persnickety feet—I wear Altras for everything. They have an extra wide toe box and also fit my narrow heel.

    1. That’s a new brand to me, I’ll have to check them out.

  11. Thanks for sharing the Ryka sneaker info. The brand is new for me.

  12. I had never heard of Ryka runners. Do they sell them in Canada? I have narrow feet so I like to try on before buying. They are a good looking shoe.
    I have been wearing ASICS for years and both of my daughters (in their 40s) wear them, too. They fit our feet well, with a narrow heel and a bit wider toe box for stability and wiggle room.
    I’m not one for joggers. I have never liked the look on myself, much preferring Pilate pants for the gym. I walk daily and usually wear my usual – jeans. I like early mornings. It starts my day off well.

    1. Asics are great too. I used to have a pair of them.

  13. I am one of those odd people who will not spend a lot on exercise wear. I figure I’m just going to get sweaty and put them in the hamper. I don’t wear exercise clothes out for shopping or meeting friends. But, I know I’m not the norm. I also do not ever wear leggings as they feel like exercise wear, which makes me feel way too casual for most outings.
    I understand getting new items for motivation, it’s just not what I need.
    Just sharing another perspective.
    I enjoy your posts!

  14. New workout clothes are my reward to myself after meeting my exercise goals. Love the ‘thumb’ shirts for winter because they eliminate wind and snow between mitten and jacket sleeves, a good reward for walking outside in 30-degree weather. I’m trying to figure out what “Ryka is the first brand to create athletic shoes specifically for a woman’s unique foot shape, muscle movement, and build” means.

    1. They create shoes for women not men and women

      1. Well, the website actually explained this statement — interesting read as it turns out.

  15. Help! Prices of items are in strange currency.. not US dollars. Any idea how to switch back?

    1. It sounds like a location setting in the website.

  16. I have loved Ryka shoes for years as well! I wear the Echo style almost every day for a casual shoe.

    1. I’m excited to try more of their shoes. So happy to have found them.

  17. I already use Ryka sneakers for water aerobics and they are great, helps protect my knees. Nordstrom is a great store, we have none in the area but their shipping and returns are great and their customer service is also wonderful. I love your workout clothes, it is true if you feel good you will workout more.

    1. Water aerobics shoes? I’m intrigued.

  18. I love Ryka shoes. I have worn them for maybe 15 years. They are created for women by women. I need to try the zip top Ryka. Looks cute. I want to try the Vuori joggers but all the models look like they are wearing a size too small. I hate wearing tight clothes when I exercise. But I don’t like baggie either! 😂. Never happy I guess. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

  19. How did you find the fit of Vuori joggers? How was the length? My son and his girlfriend came for Christmas week and both were wearing them. I have trouble finding comfy sneakers, so I ordered several different Rykas in different sizes from Zappos. Their Devotion 2 were the “ones” for me. Love the Zella clothes plus fairly affordable.

    1. The Vuori pants I ordered that weren’t joggers were about 6” too long and had to go back. The joggers are perfect for me, and on the short side.

  20. I’ll have to try those socks you recommend. Mine fall down my heels and that bugs me alot! I love sweaty Betty workout clothes when they are on sale! Thanks for this post!

    1. Denise, I think you’ll really like Bombas! Mine never slip off my heel. The company not only makes a great product but for every pair of socks purchased they donate a pair of socks to homeless shelters.

      1. Mine never, ever slip off. Thanks for mentioning that about them donating socks! It’s such a great program.

    2. @Denise: Take a pair that is giving you the problem and convert them to a sling-back design, by cutting out a portion of the heel and see if that works for you. -Brenda-

    3. I need to try Sweaty Betty, they look so nice!

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