During a recent trip to South Beach there were active people everywhere who were doing it all wrong.

Not the being active part, it was their priorities that were all wrong. I saw men running in $200 athletic shoes who looked like they were wearing their favorite shorts and t-shirt from high school. I saw a couple dressed head-to-toe in cheap, poor-fitting running gear, but sporting matching $800 athletic watches. There, of course, were men and women headed to a boutique studio sporting yoga wear three sizes too small.

My point, prioritize where you invest in your workout. Is it worth it to have that GPS watch if your shoes hurt your feet too much to work out? What good is it to dress to impress at that fitness class when you’re too distracted by your clothing to get in a good workout.

I know the dilemma as well as anyone.

There’s so much cool athletic gear out there. Where do you prioritize? Start from the bottom, up!

Starting at the bottom means a good pair of shoes. This is coming from someone has a company focused on selling cool apparel. I’ll say it again, shoes are the most important part of any workout closet. Do yourself a favor and find a local specialty store that can help you find shoes that will fit well and provide the proper level of support for your feet. The price of the shoe doesn’t change, but the service does. You don’t want pick blindly off a wall of shoes only to invest in a pair that makes your feet hurt.

We’re still on the feet.

Priority two is socks, socks, socks. A good pair of non-cotton athletic socks will keep your feed dry and prevent blisters. A common misconception is that it’s the shoe causing the blistering. More often than not, it’s the sock. There’s a lot of athletic socks out there so how do you decide? Avoid anything that comes in a pack of three or more. Good things don’t usually come packages in bulk. Secondly, look for a sock with a small size range. How can you expect a sock made for sizes 6 to 12 to fit well? Third, avoid cotton. I know, I know, it’s the fabric of blah blah blah. That’s not the case when you’re exercising! Cotton is a large-fibered material that soaks up sweat rather than wicking it away. Something synthetic will be a much better option.

Now that you’ve found good shoes and socks to keep your feet feeling good. The next priority is apparel. If you read the section on socks, you know the story. Non-cotton is the way to go with workout apparel. Synthetic materials will hold their shape better and be much lighter-weight. Start with one outfit and go from there. Try a couple different styles in shirts or shorts to find the fit you really prefer. As your wardrobe expands you’ll be able to have the workout gear to fit every activity or temperature.

The last priority are the accessories.

I consider those to be watches, sunglasses, headbands, etc. These are fun and motivating to buy, but don’t affect your workout performance as much as the aforementioned items. Save the watch for Christmas or the new pair of shades for Father’s Day.

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