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New Balance's new fitness face mask: What to know

If you’re going to the gym, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask — and New Balance just released its latest, performance face mask.
Illustration of a man and woman wearing the unisex New Balance black mask and a 360 gif of a man wearing the New Balance black mask
Courtesy New Balance

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New Balance’s first ever face mask for exercising has arrived — just as the Centers of Disease Control updated its guidance this month, advising everyone wear a mask while exercising indoors. Breathability is a top concern to consider when working out, experts previously explained to us. The new Active Face Mask is New Balance’s latest face mask, and is intended specifically for fitness and exercising, according to a New Balance spokesperson.

It seems face masks will still be a part of our foreseeable future, even more than a year after the World Health Organization officially called the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and the White House’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci, MD, predicted face masks could still be worn well into 2022. While the guidance for face masks has changed since the start of the pandemic, this latest launch from New Balance includes features the CDC recommends to anyone looking for the right face mask, including three layers of fabric and an adjustable nosepiece. Whether you’re interested in the latest from New Balance or want to upgrade your fitness face mask wardrobe, here’s what to know about the Active Face Mask.

New Balance Active Performance Face Mask

The new Active Face Mask is designed to offer “breathable, moisture-wicking protection,” according to New Balance. It’s made with three layers — the outer layer is polyester, the middle is a mix of polyester and spandex and the inner is half polyester, half polypropylene. Polypropylene as a face mask fabric can be effective in filtering, according to a November 2020 CDC brief. As this face mask is built for fitness, the fabrics have been treated in such a way to help keep sweat away. For an adjustable fit, this mask includes behind-the-ear straps and a moldable nosepiece. Unlike many of the face masks we’ve covered in the past that come in one standard size, you can choose between four sizes: XS, S/M, M/L and L/XL (the mask is unisex otherwise, according to the brand). And the mask comes with a carrying case that you can wear around your wrist — use it to store away the mask after a run.

Before this latest launch, New Balance’s most popular mask was the NB Face Mask V3, which was released in June of last year but is currently out of stock. The Active Face Mask is the only mask the brand is currently carrying on its site.

What to consider when buying a face mask for exercising

While mask mandates can vary depending on the gym you go to and even where you live (masks are recommended, not required in Equinox clubs in Texas, for example), the CDC urges picking a fitness center where masks are mandatory for staff and attendees. Since exercising can include lots of inhaling and exhaling, masks can be useful in shielding you from respiratory droplets, experts told us.

Fit and layers are key when it comes to fitness face masks, too, according to CDC guidelines: When it comes to fit, you should make sure your mask is tight around your cheeks, under your chin and over your nose. Find a face mask with multiple layers in fabrics with high thread counts and tightly woven cloths.

Adidas’ face masks were a popular pick with Shopping readers last year.

CORRECTION (April 7, 2021, 9:35 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the certification status of masks made by Halolife. After consulting lab reports and experts, NBC News confirmed that the masks did not meet a new standard for reusable masks. As a result, mention of the masks has been removed from the article.

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