My Hunt for a Sports Bra

A while back Freya announced the expansion of their Freya Active line up to a K cup, and I got my paws on one of their sports bras in December. So, this is a review that’s been a long time coming! As far as I’m aware, there are only three sports bras up to a K cup: the Freya Active Underwire, the Royce Impact Free and the Bravissimo Inspire. The Inspire has only just come onto the market, so I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I can review the other two!

The main reason I’ve been dithering about posting this for so long is that I’ve made videos for both bras doing a bounce test, and I’ve been weighing up whether it’s worth the trolls and pervy comments! But, I’m sure it’ll be found useful, so I’ve decided to include the videos, though you might want to up the quality on each one. For comparison, I first did a bounce test in a regular, well-fitted, balconette bra. This is the Boudoir Beau, reviewed here:

The first sports bra I got was the “nude” Freya Active Underwire in a 30JJ, my usual size. So far it’s only available in beige, black and white, but hopefully this will change at some point!

Freya Active Underwired 30JJ full

The Freya Active Underwire is an encapsulation style sports bra. The cups are constructed with a horizontal seam straight across, which tends to give a pointed shape with a low apex on larger boobs, though I didn’t find the shape too bad. The unadventurous colour and pointed shape mean it’s not really made to be outerwear, so I’d definitely chuck a top on before going to the gym in this! It has wide, padded comfort straps, and four sets of four hooks and eyes. I also really appreciated the Coolmax fabric and mesh panels, designed to wick away sweat during exercise. I found the combination of sweat-wicking fabric and separation was great for keeping cool!

In my initial trying on I believed it was true to size in the cups and band, but a zumba session later, I found I had empty space in the cups (due to the too-wide wires) and was wishing for a tighter band. I measured the stretched band as 31.5 inches, and, given the empty space at the sides, I think I would ideally wear a 28JJ in this. However, in a 28 band, this stops at a G cup. Yes, really. So, since I can’t return it any more, I’ve had to wear it on the third set of hooks with the straps tightened to get better support.

Freya Active Underwired 30JJ angles

In terms of bounce reduction, it’s definitely a huge improvement from a regular balconette bra, though I’d like to try with a cup down. Due to where the neckline is, I have some tissue escaping on top, which I don’t really like during exercise.

I think it would be perfect for me if the neckline was a bit higher, and the band was more true to size. I would also love to see it in more fun designs and bright colours – for instance, I love the Jet and Magenta colourways of the H-cup versions. Overall I’d say it’s a definite improvement from a regular bra, but I wouldn’t wear it for high impact activities.

The second sports bra I have is the Royce Impact Free. I had heard that it runs small in the cups, while the band runs either small or true to size (depending on the colourway). With this in mind, I decided to try out a 30K in the Grey Marl.

Royce Impact Free full

Unlike the Freya, this is a compression style bra, so it doesn’t have “cups”, as such, and there is no separation. This means it has a mono-boob effect, which isn’t for everyone! Because it works through compression, it is quite minimising from the side, and it gives a fairly rounded shape. It has padded comfort straps which are quite close-set on the front, though I found they kept moving outwards at the back. I think this may be because the sides taper to the band very suddenly. Combined with my flared ribcage, the straps aren’t kept central very well, and are going to move out!

It has the standard three sets of three hooks and eyes, and a velcro cover so the bra can be worn as outerwear (if you’re so inclined)! Personally I’d be pretty tempted, as I think it’s stunning for a sports bra. Saying that, it kept getting some odd puckering along one of the seams, making it look like your nipples have popped out to say hi. Which, I assure you, mine hadn’t – it’s the seam! Also, a lot of people have reported having trouble with the velcro curling up, though mine hasn’t started doing this yet.

It sports a very wide band, which I think is great for extra support. At first, I thought the band was far, far too small – I needed assistance to get it done up! After some trial and error, I found it was much easier to do it up and then put on the straps and place my breasts into the cups. I measured the stretched band as 29.5 inches, so it’s on the small end of a 30. However, at least in my case, I think it has to be to give the best support. Once I had worked out how to put it on without strangling myself, I found it to be a fairly good fit all over. I’d be tempted to try a cup down just to see, but as far as I can tell, this size is fairly spot on!

Royce Impact Free angles

Compared to the Freya, I found this bra much better for bounce reduction. Due to the high neckline, I had no tissue escaping, and I felt much better supported. I was a bit annoyed, actually – I had bought this on a whim and wasn’t expecting to keep it! Others may not like the high neckline, as I imagine it would be hard to cover with a vest top or similar. But, in my size, it really does need to be this high for support and coverage. The downside of the Royce is that it doesn’t have sweat-wicking fabric, and as it’s a compression bra, you’re very much smooshed together. This meant that I got a lot sweatier exercising in this bra!

So all in all, my main problems are the lack of sweat-wicking material, and the wide strap placement at the back. I think I’m going to try using a strap converter to turn it into a racerback, as this should relieve the problem I have with the strap placement. Aside from that, I think this is a pretty great bra. Most reviews I’ve read didn’t particularly like this bra, but I’ve found it to be the best sports bra I’ve tried. Who would’ve seen that coming? 😛

Freya Active Underwire available at Brastop; Royce Impact Free available at Brastop and Bravissimo.

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Founder and main author of Bras and Body Image. Anna is a lingerie lover, feminist and maths student based in the UK, who hopes to someday cuddle every cat in the world.

19 thoughts on “My Hunt for a Sports Bra

  1. I almost made videos when I did my review of the Panache Sport but I chickened out! Haha. I’m also surprised that the Royce ended up being your favorite, and I’m kind of surprised you could even do up the 30! I’m a solid 28, but when I tried on this bra I was about out of breath trying to do it up. Also it didn’t seem to hold up my breasts at all! Perhaps I tried it on in the wrong size, and needed a smaller or larger cup… Who knows.

    If you’re ok with compression bras, maybe you should look into Enell for your next sports bra- they can custom make them for your measurements (or at least they used to be able to, I don’t see anywhere on the website that specifically says that anymore). I tried one on when I was looking for a sports bra but the store I was in only had the regular sizes, and I definitely would’ve needed a custom one!

  2. I went with the Royce sport bra in black for my 32js i love it ! Want to try the Freya active one too but i would need to change sizes before i invest in another sport bra !

  3. I’m surprised you found the Royce to be better. Im a 32hh/30j and love the freya active capsulated bras for real high impact sport such as rugby. The compression bras hold you well but I find I need to wear capsulated bra underneath to separate my boobs and causes shortness of breath and chest pains. Interesting how peoples shape and preferences suffer though- I do like the compression for its shape though.

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  5. Just wanna say I’ve just discovered this blog having been re-measured at Bravissimo yesterday as a 30JJ. Feeling a bit down in the dumps over it I feel a lot better reading your posts and seeing your pics (appearing to be the exact same body shape as mine).

    I’ll definitely be coming here for advice as a sports bra and maybe swimwear is next on my list!

    • I’m glad you’ve found my blog helpful :) It was a bit of a shock for me too when I got fitted, but it’s definitely not the end of the world. I honestly think my bras are way prettier now, and they’re definitely a hell of a lot more comfortable!

      What bras did you try out at Bravissimo? :) Some of their new collection is just lovely.

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  7. I just got a Shock Absorber in 30H. I wear a Fantasie 32G usually, and this fits. Haven’t bounce-tested yet but it seems to hold me in place pretty well. First one I’ve seen in person is this one, so I’m lucky it fit! But you might consider it.

    • My last sports bra was actually a 30HH shock absorber, which did the job, but mainly because it was way too small. I’m talking loose band, boobs in my armpits and serious shoulder pain! I’m considering the Panache now, apparently they run big in the cups – might be worth a try! :)

  8. Looks really nice – can you link me to where you got it? Any fellow big ladies have an alternative to a stick on bra? (link in signature) Dying to wear a strapless dress and have support…

    Thanks ~ Sarah

  9. Ouch :( That amount of bounce seems to hurt. I agree though that the Royce one seems the best for you. You definitely should try out the Inspire! I haven’t tried it myself but I’ve heard great things about it and that it’s very rigid.

    • In a regular bra, my boobs started hurting after jogging on the spot for a minute or so. Both sports bras were a huge improvement! I might have to try a regular bra under my Royce to see if it’s better, I can’t quite justify spending £30 on another sports bra at the moment!

  10. I Just found a german brand Ulla that do a sports bra called kate up to an L cup being a HH myself i got fitted into the 8K and found it very comfortable and supportive and high enough that i didnt feel like i was going to fall out the top every time i moved the fabric was strong and the moisture wick design left me feeling fresh and dry after the gym session. The shape was also good giving me lift and support while the wide straps with extra padding did not dig in at all. Would highly recommend looking into this sports bra.

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