Monday, January 14, 2013

The dangers of bra shopping

When it comes to fitness, I have a no-jostling rule. I abhor being jostled, and would sooner chew off my own big toe than go for a brisk jog.

Hiking, yoga, snowshoeing, and standup paddleboarding are excellent forms of jostle-free exercise, and I do those activities as often as possible. But the closer I get to 40, the more apparent it is that I need more regular cardiovascular fitness and a routine that lends itself to an assembly of close girlfriends motivating each other to eschew that third glass of wine in favor of bouncing around in sweaty sneakers.

Which is how I found myself signing up to do Zumba. For those unfamiliar with Zumba, it's a Latin dance-based fitness routine centered around the notion that if you shake your butt and boobs hard enough, they will fall off and cause you to weigh less. I'm incapable of shaking anything with rhythm or style, but since I posses the aforementioned parts and enjoy moving them vigorously in certain situations, Zumba seemed like a good fit.

Unfortunately, my existing sports bras were not such a good fit. I bought them ten years ago before I was firmly entrenched in my no-jostling rule, and both bras bear the remnants of five years of kickboxing classes. They're badly stretched and sweat-stained, and one bears a large pink stain from an ill-fated post-workout cocktail hour.

So I decided to go shopping for sports bras. This is like saying, "I decided to remove my nipple with pliers." Very few sports bra manufacturers make their garments for women shaped like me. I require a small band size and stupidly large cup size, which means the typical pull-on style bras sized in small, medium or large are less effective than securing my boobs in place with scotch tape.

Shopping online is a gamble without the opportunity to try things on, so I decided to visit my local REI in hopes of finding something reasonably close. To my utter delight, I located several sports bras in the right size range. I scurried off to the dressing room like a squirrel with a wine-filled acorn and promptly tore off my shirt.

The first bra had straps that weren't sturdy enough, a fact I discovered when one of them snapped and hit me in the eye.

The next bra had my preferred back-hook, but still needed to be pulled on overhead. I managed to get it wedged around my shoulders, where it refused to budge. I tugged, pulled, grunted, and sweated more than I have in any fitness class as I tried to maneuver the garment either up or down. I was three seconds from yelling for help when the bra came off with a sudden boing! flinging me back against the dressing room wall as the bra flew over the top of the stall.

Finally, I found the sports bra that fit just right. I jumped up and down to be sure, performing a series of jumping jacks, followed by a few punches I remembered from kickboxing class.

I bounced around some more, attempting some of the boob-shaking moves from Zumba class to ensure the bra offered adequate support. I flung my arm to one side, smacking my hand against the dressing room wall.

That's when the door flew open. As I stared dumbfounded, a sales associate turned and looked at me. Our eyes met over the go-back rack, and I gave him a friendly wave.

"Hello," I said.

He blinked. "Hi."

"Guess I forgot to lock the door."

He nodded and dropped a hot pink sweatshirt on the floor. "Guess so."

"I'll just do that now," I said, pulling the door closed and latching the two locks I'd failed to notice upon entering the stall.

I extricated myself from the sports bra and put on my street clothes, wondering if the sales associate might qualify for post-traumatic stress disorder benefits under the corporate healthcare policy. When I emerged from the dressing room, he was nowhere to be seen. I imagined him cowering behind a rack of shoes rocking back and forth and humming to himself.

When I marched my purchases to the front counter, the clerk smiled. "Did you find everything you needed?"

I nodded and beamed. "Two bras, a pair of sandals, and a blog post. That'll do it."


Deborah Small said...

OMG. That is priceless. More importantly...where and what bra did you get?! I have the same problem--small ribcage, not so small former-nursers--and end up buying crushing--literally--sports bras. I prefer a hooked closure, and actual bra-size style sports bra, none of those pull-on, one-size fits all like my Hobby Holly training bra of old. Please share where and namebrand! Thanks so much!


Deborah: It's the Maia sports bra from Moving Comfort. I'm obsessed with it. I bought two of them. Here's a link, which comes complete with a video of the bra's features:,default,pd.html

Teri Anne Stanley said...

I'm of the belief that bra shopping is enough of an aerobic exercise. Don't even need to buy one and wear it to class. Just all the maneuvering and anxiety is a work out. Add in jeans shopping and I can skip that marathon that I wasn't going to run anyway.

Shelley Munro said...

LOL the male sales clerk is probably doing well with the story from his point of view too. I think changing rooms are booby trapped (no pun intended) the bright lighting always makes me cringe. Glad your shopping excursion ended well :)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Well, shopping is an adventure, right? :) I'd honestly rather hide in a hole for a month than go bra shopping (although I don't do well with shopping of any kind) but it sounds like you made it work!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Lady Gaga wore a bra that featured assault weapons today. It's really making a splash.

Mary said...

Awesome! I hate bras...sports bras, in particular. Obviously, someone with a grudge against womankind designed 99% of those suckers. Amen for finding one that works for you!

Chudney Thomas said...

OMG! Coming out of Lurkdom to say: "You kill me with your stories." :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

You're so funny! And good for you for doing Zumba. I like going to Zumba classes; before I started taking them I didn't really like to dance in front of other people, because I still dance like people did in the 90s (and the only move I can really remember is the Macarena). But classes like this one have made me feel less self-conscious and have helped me learn new moves.

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