What’s your go-to brand for training attire? Mine is Under Armour. The vast majority of my training clothes are from UA, and I can’t tell you why. Is it because I grew up wearing Under Armour? Is it because their founder was a talented lacrosse player and I used to play lacrosse? Is it because of their branding as the no-gimmick gear for athletes? Is it because their clothing is comfortable?
There is little product differentiation in our capitalist society. Differentiation is what makes companies such as Apple, Starbucks, and Mark Fisher Fitness different. Yes, they’re selling a high-quality product, but they’re also creating a culture. When it comes to exercise apparel, we wear clothes from the company that we’re accustomed to, or that speaks to us the most.
Let’s look at Lululemon as an example. They sell high-quality, high-priced clothing that’s specifically marketed as “yoga clothes & running gear.” Their clothes can be worn by those participating in any activity, yet Lululemon has created a community around their involvement with yoga and running. I am not particularly fond of either of those activities, which is perhaps why Lululemon doesn’t speak to me as a brand. It may also be because they have a bias against people who squat. Wider leg holes on your shorts, please!!
Alas, as their crafty marketers stay up to date with popular training, you can see something unexpected (at least for me) on Lulu’s website.
Lululemon is considered expensive by many, as is CrossFit. It’s a pair made in marketing heaven, although I’m not sure how many of my barbell-slamming, WODing friends want to wipe chalk onto $90 sweatpants. That leads me to ask the question:
Does Training Attire Matter?
YES. Yes it does, for several reasons. Training attire matters because it impacts how you move and how you feel.
The clothing that you train in should encourage quality movement. I don’t mean that it’s whispering, “Keep that head tall!” in your ear while you’re warming-up, I mean that you should be able to move well in your clothing. If your clothing restricts you from entering a range of motion that you’d feel comfortable moving in sans clothes (aka naked) then it’s not the outfit for you.
You should be able to hinge, squat, lunge, and reach in your clothing. If you can’t, then it’s not the outfit for you. It’s either too tight, too stiff, or you’re wearing some damn cargo shorts at the gym, why did you think that was a good idea?!? The only exception:
If someone can tell me where to actually get these, I’d appreciate it. I squat every time I try on jeans and always get stuck right above parallel.
While training should allow you to move well, it should also let you feel good. If you feel more comfortable wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants in the gym, then wear that shit. If you feel more comfortable wearing a sports bra and hot pants, rock that instead. Both allow you to move freely, but change how you feel in your skin.
I work with people every day who are accustomed to moving their bodies through large ranges of motion. Restriction is not an option, and movement freedom isn’t seasonal.
What you wear when you exercise doesn’t matter, except that it does. Find clothing that allows you to move well and feel comfortable in that movement. It can be a free t-shirt or an elaborate and expensive contraption sold as a “sport tank”. The better you feel, the better you’ll move, and then the better you’ll feel. It will feed forward.
Now off to work in a Wolverine t-shirt.