“ Manufacturer: Freya / Type: Sports Wear / Gender: Female „
Before I start, let me just say that I am writing reviews of two different sports bras, and some of the general information in the first two sections is common to both. I feel it's important to the reviews and have therefore included the same text in both, so if you've already read the other one (Shock Absorber Max), just skip down to the 'This bra in particular' bit!
~~~ Why use a sports bra? ~~~
I think most people are aware that breast tissue is easily damaged, and there are no muscles you can tone, so sag is sadly irreversible (well, if you don't include surgery!) It's therefore very important if you're doing any kind of aerobic exercise to ensure you have a bra with the proper support - and that really does mean a sports bra. I read somewhere that normal bras reduce bounce by 38% and a good sports bra by 78%. Not sure if I've got the figures absolutely spot on, but I think so.
~~~ The importance of getting properly fitted ~~~
I've tried a fair few sports bras over the years , initially with not a lot of success - partly because I didn't really know what to look for and partly down to plain bad advice over sizing. My personal experience seems to be rather a common one, so I think it's worth talking about bra sizes before I get round to the bra itself, I really want to recommend very strongly that you get properly fitted. Having measured myself (as per sizing instructions in many a catalogue), for years I was convinced I was a 36B. When pregnant I thought I'd better go and get properly measured, and was told I was 38C or even 40C. Bras of any kind in these sizes just didn't seem to give great support or shape, and sports bras were slightly better but not much! I thought that was just the way it was.
Then, at our antenatal classes we were introduced to a wonderful lady known as the Bra Lady. She 'fitted' us all just by looking, and I was utterly shocked to be told I should really be wearing a much smaller back size and much larger cup size. I followed her advice for maternity bras, but somehow hadn't quite got the message and ended up back in my old bras after that.
Several years later I heard about Bravissimo and decided to pay them a visit. There I was also 'fitted' by looking and then sizes were confirmed by trying on. I was stunned by the difference in support and shape - and this time I got the message loud and clear! Far from the 36D I'd gone in with, I came out with 32F.
The specific application to sports bras here is that the ones I now wear are designed for larger cup sizes, and provide fantastic support. Before, when I'd been wrongly measured, I was just buying the sports bras for standard cup sizes, and they just didn't do the job. So please, even if you're too shy to get fitted somewhere like Bravissimo (though really, it's OK!) it's still worth trying a variety of sizes if you're quite well-endowed - it's amazing how many people are better off with a smaller back size and larger cup size, and for sports bras you will notice the difference, I promise!
Just one final point on fitting - I generally find I need to go up a size in sports bras (34G) so it's definitely a good idea to try before you buy.
~~~ This bra in particular ~~~
Well, the bra I'm reviewing here is the Freya Active Sports Bra. I mentioned in my Shock Absorber review that that was the first one I bought after discovering my real size, and I used it so much I completely wore it out. Well, when I went to get a replacement, they didn't have any in the size / colour I wanted. I was quite disappointed as I'd been so happy with the Shock Absorber, but I needed a new one so I went for this Freya Active instead. I have had other normal bras from Freya in the past and always been really pleased with them, so I thought they were worth a try in the sports bra department too. I was really glad I did, as I have been delighted with my purchase, and have since bought myself a second one.
It's for cup sizes D-H, and as you can see from the picture is pretty heavy duty - not something you'd particularly want to show off! It comes in white, black or nude. I personally have the nude and the black - I only mention that to point out that the nude actually shows up far less under a white top than a white bra (which is not necessarily what you would expect) and you don't then get the issue of nasty off-white / greying bras in the changing room! It has soft cups (wires are not good for sports bras apparently), wide padded straps, and is made of a moisture-wicking fabric called Coolmax. It also has a mesh panel between the cups.
The fastening on mine is a very secure 4 hooks (and 4 positions too) though I seem to think smaller cup sizes may have 3 hooks. What I never used to know (but do now!) is that most of the support with a bra should come from the back, not the straps - even with larger cup sizes. So, I do this up nice and tight and the support it gives is amazing. It is also really comfortable, and gives a good shape too.
I mostly use it for treadmill running and quite honestly when I use a treadmill opposite a mirror I can see virtually no bounce - it all feels pretty rock solid, but comfortable, not constricting.
As with other decent sports bras it's not cheap but I don't think it's particularly expensive either - I've seen it around £24 - £27 - a really good investment though, worth every penny to me. I'd rather spend on a good sports bra and spend less on the 'looking good' kit, as let's face it, not many people look good after a sweaty gym session anyway!
I would VERY HIGHLY recommend this bra - I said the Shock Absorber was a million times better than anything I tried before - well I didn't think it was possible, but actually I think the Freya Active is even better.