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Comfortable, flattering exercise apparel that doesn't scream "wannabe Olympian" is hard to find. That's why we fell hard for Athleta--Gap's line of women's workout gear--and why we're super excited about the brand's first New York stores.

The two just-opened shops--on the Upper West and East Sides--embody the brand's casual-yet-sophisticated vibe with wood-paneled fitting rooms, easy-to-navigate merchandise (organized by sport) and iMac kiosks for quick inventory searches. Moreover, each location offers nice extras like complimentary hemming (you don't want those yoga pants to drag) and free, in-store workout classes, like strength conditioning and Zumba.

But the real stars are the clothes. We love the no-nonsense Hana running shorts ($39), the fast-wicking Energy tank ($69) and the Vinyasa-ready Salamba pants ($69)--the extra-roomy crotch keeps you from exposing anything you didn't intend to. In every piece, Athleta's commitment to gear that flatters is apparent. Each sports bra, for instance, is labeled with the workout activities it's intended for and cup sizes it best suits (rather than just S, M or L).

Upon our recent visit, we were actually surprised by how downright fashionable items were. This cowl-neck dress ($98) is cute enough to wear over your gym clothes and out to dinner.

Athleta Upper West Side, 216 Columbus Ave. (at 70th St.); 212-787-5602 or
Athleta Upper East Side, 1517 Third Ave. (between 85th and 86th sts.); 212-249-2072 or

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