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Active Duty: Men Prefer Cotton's Feel, Features When Working Out

Frank was a little apprehensive when he first walked into the recently opened New York Sports Club in Clifton, NJ. It had been a few years since he'd gone to a gym, and this one looked serious.

Frank was a little apprehensive when he first walked into the recently opened New York Sports Club in Clifton, NJ. It had been a few years since he'd gone to a gym, and this one looked serious. The place is huge by any standard, loaded with gleaming equipment, rows and rows of cardio machines - and members who seemed to be intimately acquainted with all of it.

"I had on a T-shirt and sweat pants, and was just hoping I wasn't going to stick out like a sore thumb, you know?" he says, with a laugh. "I didn't know if these guys would all be wearing high-tech, neon-colored muscle shirts. But it was good - they all looked like me."

That's because 41% of men prefer cotton and cotton blends for their athletic apparel, according to Cotton Incorporated's Lifestyle Monitor™. Compare that to only 15% of men who prefer synthetic fibers for their workout sessions.

The preference for all-natural cotton holds true as much for those who've logged more time on the sofa than the cross-trainer, as it does for avid workout enthusiasts.

Stephen, 38, a Manhattan-based doctor who begins every day with a morning run through Central Park, says he only wears cotton tees.

"I get super-soft, really lightweight shirts and they're perfect," he says. "Nothing feels better."

Among men who prefer cotton for their athletic apparel, the Monitor found that 35% like it because it breathes; 32% find it comfortable; 14% say its "soft/feels better;" and 13% say it's "cool/light."

This time of year is big for workout wear. Amy Dimond, fashion director for Sears Holdings, says people come in with their New Year's resolutions forefront in their minds.

"They really want to get back in shape, particularly after the holidays," Dimond reports. "And even if you stayed in good shape and weren't eating out of control, you're getting back into a routine, getting back to your regular workouts. And buying new apparel gears you up for that."

JCPenney shoppers are the same way, says Kate Parkhouse, brand manager.
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