Breathe Easier: CA’s Fitness Team Shares Best Masks For Working Out

October 19, 2020

It’s one thing to make a mask a fashion statement, but it’s quite another to choose one for your workout routine. It has to be enough of a barrier to keep germs from spreading but thin enough that you can actually get oxygen flowing. Oh, and it also needs to stay in place while you move around. That’s no small order when it comes to face coverings.

Before we get into the best masks for working out, let’s first lay out some of the facts.


It’s (scientifically) harder, but worth it

You can think of it as an extra challenge or altitude training, but if we’re just being honest, inhaling through a mouthful of cotton is not super pleasant. Add in a cardio routine, and it can be really discouraging to stay on that treadmill.

Science suggests that it does increase your heart rate a bit when you’re wearing a mask, but the benefits of keeping yourself and people around you safe typically outweigh the risks. Plus, exercising with a mask is still exercising. That means a boost to your immunity and that can help you fight any viruses that circulate this flu season and beyond.

That said, CA fitness clubs do not require you to wear a mask while doing heavy cardio. Why? Well, a few reasons:

  1. We follow state, national and industry recommendations when it comes to masks, even talking to one of Governor Hogan’s leading doctors on this particular issue. Fitness centers across Maryland have interpreted COVID-19 guidelines in the same way.
  2. Our cardio equipment is blocked off or properly spaced so there is at least six feet of distance between each person who’s working out. People using cardio equipment are generally stationary and less likely to cross paths.
  3. We have other measures — like UV air purifiers and hospital-grade electrostatic sprayers — that ensure the spaces  are sanitized and safe.
  4. Once an individual is no longer engaging in intense aerobic activity, they must put their mask back on. That includes strength training.

woman working out in CA's fitness clubs










Of course, rules are subject to change to adjust to COVID-19 trends. Before visiting us, check the latest mask requirements in our facilities.


CA’s top mask picks

Drum roll, please… 

Here are the top mask contenders from our fitness gurus:

best masks for working out

FaceMitts by WhitePaws RunMitts ($15 each, available at Charm City Run and

Recommended by fitness training supervisor Daniel Silva

First, these masks are locally made, and we love supporting local businesses. Second, they’re pretty darn comfy.

They are lightweight, form fitting to stay in place and ear loops are very comfortable,” Silva says.

best masks for working out

UA SportsMask by Under Armour ($30 each on

Recommended by fitness training supervisor Daniel Silva and trainer Elizabeth Harris

Extra points for two mentions here. The price point on this one is a little steep, but some would say it’s worth it.

“This one is the best for high intensity exercise,” Silva says. “It has neoprene padding which stops the mask from expanding and contracting during heavy breathing.”

Sounds fancy, right?

“This is the most comfortable mask and fits the best because it’s adjustable over your nose,” Harris says, “but it can get hot when you’re doing cardio.”

best masks for working out

Athleta Everyday mask by Athleta ($30 for 5-pack on

Recommended by fitness training supervisor Bonnie Pace

This is the most affordable reusable mask recommended by our pros, and you might be surprised to hear that the most expensive one in this brand is not a team favorite.

“The Athleta masks are by far the most comfortable when being worn for long periods of time,” Pace says. “The Everyday mask is more comfortable than their Made to Move masks, which are more expensive.”

Standard single-use masks

Recommended by personal trainer Keith Oelschlaeger

Maybe it’s not the most environmentally-friendly or (depending on how often you’re working out) cheap option, but for some, simple single-use masks might be best.

“I’ve used the standard single use masks in my training and competition,” Oelschlaeger says. “They’re good for lifting and other anaerobic activities. Cardio is tolerable, but they can get a little tender around the ears and can soak up a good amount of sweat.”

Pro Tip: Add a 3D bracket for extra breathability (starting at $4.99 on

Recommended by Columbia Athletic Club general manager Leslie Flynn

These brackets are an inside support frame that fit various types of masks (from disposables to fabric) to help create more breathing space when you’re working out. Flynn recommends the silicone material, which she’s found to be more comfortable than the plastic.

“You simply slide the bracket inside your mask, and voila, it’s easier to breathe during exercise,” Flynn says. “They’re also washable and reusable.”


Found your favorite fitness mask? 

Take a sweaty selfie and tag Columbia Association on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Whatever your style and comfort, find a mask that works for you and get to that work out!

Share this post