Workout Gear – Does it Make Difference?

A couple years ago I threw out the sneakers, er…shoes in which I ran the Boston Marathon decades ago. I wish I kept them, because my memory of the soles grows thinner. I am certain the soles were not much thicker than a couple layers of corrugated cardboard.

And I think I ran in some old gym shorts, with a raggedy T-shirt.

Rarely is that outfit seen worn by any serious athlete, or even a weekend warrior.

For many years I was in suspended disbelief about the value of technology in sports equipment, but with the innovation of parabolic skis a decade ago, I slowly changed my mind.

Lately I have been wondering if innovation in the actual athletic clothing makes any difference. I can accept that psychologically there is doubtless benefit in thinking that you have spent more money to get better performance, but until I gave it a go I was happy to workout in a T-shirt and cheap shorts (much to my wife’s chagrin).

Endeavor Athletic Apparel has launched a line of athletic wear that begins to explain the growth in the market. (My daughters won’t workout in anything other than Lululemon, so I know they are convinced). Endeavor was started by a group of elite athletes, who determined that the apparel is a critical component of the sport. “Endeavor saw a need for athletic clothing that acted as equipment—focused on performance under pressure, not trendy patterns or names meant to distract from poor quality.”

The innovators looked at fabrics and technology to improve performance of the clothing. For instance, they use polygiene to limit odor-causing bacteria. They deployed textile technologies such as Trizar, which is Space Certified through NASA. Trizar dries quickly, and reflects or absorbs heat depending on the intended use (which seems to answer the age old punchline about the grizzly guy when he first saw that a Thermos can work with either hot or cold liquids – ‘how do it know?’).

The heat management spreads the sweat across a larger area, therefore increasing comfort while working out. That was the case with the Tech Tee ($68); I noticed I was far less sweaty after my usual circuit training. The mesh design afforded better ventilation.

The Sport Short ($60) was equally comfortable, likely due to the four way stretch fabric. I don’t know how anyone designs or buys shorts without pockets, so these met my needs.

The days and evenings will eventually get cooler, and I look forward to slipping into the Hoody ($120); the mesh-lined hood has shock-cord cinching.

Where does that leave me? Increasingly convinced that with the disposable income, you can improve your workout experience.




Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.