Let’s be honest, fitness and fashion are like an old married couple. Sometimes they get along, and sometimes not, but one will never leave the other.
What you choose to wear during workouts can have a big effect (positive + negative!) on both comfort and mindset. If you feel like a superhero, you can train like a superhero! A wireless EMS bodysuit ticks both boxes. It’s snug fitting to ensure comfort, and the unique design can give your self-confidence a big boost!
And if you keep up to date with the trends, you’ll find that very often the brainchildren of this relationship are quite impressive – take a pair of Cloudventure trail running shoes for instance. Sleek, simple, and very functional.
However, at times, eye-gouging just doesn’t seem like such a bad idea – yes, I’m talking to you 80s. High-cut briefs over neon spandex pants? Really?
Regardless of the decade, many fitness enthusiasts are more than willing to fork out large sums of money on the latest, sleekest, and sexiest sportswear to realise the promises of increased performance and functionality.
So, if you want to know more about how your choice of clothing affects your workout performance, keep reading!
The Psychology of Acting and Clothes
The psychology of clothing isn’t very different than that of acting.
At the end of the 1800s the Russian playwright, writer, teacher, Michael Chekhov became known far and wide for a particular technique he called “the psychological gesture”.
The actor, before taking to the stage, would use a specific movement or prop to help them tap onto the essence of the character on a whim. By comparison, what we wear acts in a very similar fashion – pun intended.
We’ve all experienced the feeling of putting on your first suit or work uniform. Buttoning up and slipping your feet into your well-polished shoes triggers a shift into work mode.
With the help of an outfit and a few simple actions, you embody controlled energy and selective attention that becomes suited to what is required in the workplace.
When you like what you wear, the trigger is that much more significant and you just feel ready to take on the day.
Case Study – Doctors and Painters!
Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky termed this shift “enclothed cognition” and published a study in 2012 on the psychological effects of wearing lab coats vs casual attire in the workplace.
To test the hypothesis, they conducted three experiments.
Experiment 1 – Participants were divided into those with lab coats and those with casual attire and were asked to complete specific tasks.
Experiments 2 and 3 – Participants were divided into groups with doctor’s coats, and what they were told were painter’s coats.
After the first experiment, those with coats showed increased focus compared to the control group.
In the second and third experiments, those with a doctor’s coats showed similar increases of attention as opposed to those who were told that they were only wearing a painter’s coat.
Enclothed cognition depends on two things: the symbolic meaning of the clothing and the physical experience of wearing it.
So, putting on your fitness tights or tank top, let’s your body know that it’s about to push itself physically and puts your mind in “the zone”.
Experts like Leah Lagos, PsyD, BCB, and clinical sports psychologist also believe that different colours (like black or red) may even give you a “psychological edge” as opposed to others.
Sportswear and Performance
Your fitness attire and chosen fabric will naturally depend on the climate you find yourself.
So what are the recommendations then?
Well, If you are working out in colder temperatures, it’s best to wear multiple thin layers rather than a single thick layer. This helps minimise the free movement of air and water along the skin, which will help keep you warm.
Multiple layers also give you the ability to easily remove one or two if you are starting to feel hot during your training session.
Here are a few more tips:
|Base Layer||fabrics like polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thinsulate, and wool are useful for either insulation, absorbing radiant heat, or wicking away moisture depending on their chosen thickness.|
|Mid-Layer||mostly for insulation and to carry moisture from the inner to the outer layer. Materials like down, polyester, fleece, wool and synthetic blends are popular for mid-layer use.|
|Outer Layer||helps to protect you from the elements, such as wind and rain. Gore-Tex shell, Porelle Dry, Polartec Neoshell, and Pertex Shield+ are trusted fabric designs for when choosing outer layer jackets. Additional zips on the jackets can also help for ventilation if needed.|
While layers aren’t needed here, it’s essential to choose your fabrics carefully.
Higher temperatures call for clothing with effective wicking, but also heat transfer capabilities. Some examples:
These materials are all great at keeping your dry by wicking away sweat from your skin.
Be careful with polyester though. It may be durable and breathable but can start to smell a bit if not washed soon enough or adequately after a workout!
You may have noticed that cotton was not on the list, and that’s because it tends to hold on to moisture which makes evaporation slower. As you exercise for longer, cotton becomes more soaked and more cumbersome. Do you really need that extra weight?!
Sportswear and Comfort
Unless you like wearing extra-large, ultra-low cut, tank tops, most fitness attire tends to sit a bit snugger and be quite stretchy.
Many like the way this helps outline curves and makes showing off all the hours you put in, but this is also ideal for functionality. For one, it stops them from getting in the way – especially if you are using machinery or exercising in harsh conditions.
Nobody wants to have a jacket/parachute on a windy day, or a trouser ripping on you at the bottom of a squat.
Secondly, it provides added support, particularly if you are a woman. A good quality sports bra and pair of leggings can help make activities like HIIT and running bearable and also prevent chafing.
So, what does this all come down to?
Simply put, comfort and mindset.
It may not take seconds of your 100 meter sprint or add 20 kilos to your squat, but it surely will make working out more enjoyable.
If what you wear makes you feel good and motivates you to get up in the morning and drive to the gym or the nearest trail, then spending a few extra dollars on your attire really isn’t such a bad thing after all.
And it certainly makes those gym selfies a bit more appealing – if you’re into that sort of thing that is.
Happy training everyone!