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(ARA) – What do you want from your workout clothes? In the early days of gym memberships, most men would probably have answered “comfort.” And most women would have settled for not looking too much like the guys in their gym.

But today, workout clothing – like nearly everything else in American culture – has gone high tech. We want our active wear to not only be comfortable, we want it to work for us, making our workout easier, more effective and more enjoyable. From space-age running suits that wick moisture away from our bodies, to shape-enhancing active wear that makes your body look good before you even hit the gym, technology has transformed how we dress when we work up a sweat.

If you’re looking to enhance your workout with the latest technology, here are the latest hot-shot togs to watch:

Shape-enhancing active wear

It’s no secret that the average American woman is not happy with her body. Worry over how she’ll look in traditional workout gear has likely kept more than one woman out of the gym – and away from the exercise she needs to look and feel better. Active-wear maker Marika is banking that women will embrace workout clothing that can help them look better – and feel better about how they look – before they even get to the gym.

The company’s Marika Miracles line of shape-enhancing bodywear uses slimming technology and high-tech Elasta-Tight (R) Dry-Wik (R) fabric to instantly and visibly reshape the body. A lower-priced, stretch-cotton version, dubbed Marika Magic, is also available. You’ll be able to find the products at retailers such as Lady Foot Locker, Academy Sports + Outdoors and Sports Authority. A plus-size version sells through Dicks Sporting Goods will also offer a private-label version called Shape Tek. The company is also taking its shape-enhancing technology into the fashion apparel realm and will unveil waist-cinching and stomach-flattening tops on QVC.

“Consumer demand for high-tech active wear continues to grow,” says Frank Zarabi, CEO and owner of Marika’s parent company, Fam Brands. “We never let the grass grow under our feet, as consumers welcome active wear that improves their workout experience.”

Marika anticipates its shape-enhancing active wear will help the company soar to double-digit sales increases this year despite the still-sluggish economy – thanks to technological innovation. “As garment manufacturers we may not be in the business that people first think of when they hear the words technical innovation but we’re a perfect example of precisely what drives sales and growth during a recession,” says Carrie Henley, executive vice president and general manager of the active-wear brand.

Stay-dry sports and workout clothes

If you’re still working out in sweatpants and a T-shirt, you probably dread opening the hamper on laundry day and dealing with the damp, smelly mess your used workout clothes have become. You need to discover Dry-Wik.

The ingenious fabric literally wicks sweat away from your skin, leaving you feeling dry. The fabric can keep you feeling cool during warm-weather activities like biking and hiking, and helps keep skin dry and warm while you are exercising in cool temperatures. Dry fabric and skin also means less chance of rashes or chafing. You can find virtually any kind of activewear imaginable made from this space-age fabric, from yoga clothing to running suits, ski wear to sports bras.

Toning togs and shoes

By using the same principle that makes resistance bands work for muscle toning, some clothing manufacturers are marketing activewear and other apparel that they say will help tone your body. By applying pressure and resistance on certain muscle groups, the clothing is said to help exercise those muscles, even if you’re not working out. From actual workout wear like pants, tops and shorts, to underwear, the concept of toning togs seems to be catching on.

Of course, toning sneakers laid the groundwork for the concept. Many athletic shoe makers – and even a few fashion shoe lines – now offer products that claim to tone calf and leg muscles through innovative design.

From shape-enhancing active wear to fabric that helps keep you dry and comfortable and shoes that do part of the work for you, high tech workout gear is helping millions of Americans exercise more efficiently, enjoy their workouts more and feel better about themselves while doing it.

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