Just because people look like they are on their way to the gym doesn’t actually mean they get there.
Lululemon has landed in Park City, bringing their activewear to a Main Street storefront and the mainstream. Fitness has never looked so good. Which makes me wonder: has people’s “Lulu” game become stronger than their body? What once was ‘exercise to look and feel good in your everyday clothing’ has become ‘look good and feel good in your activewear and maybe you’ll exercise’.
Dear Jane Fonda,
I bet you and your legendary leg warmers didn’t see this coming.
I grew up in a time where fitness happened in two places, in the home or in the gym. My mom was either leg lifting in the living room or grape vining at the local fitness center. Back in the day, my mom would never have shopped for groceries in her French-cut back-flossing leotards. And heaven forbid she attend a PTA meeting in her belted shiny unitard. There was a time, place and dress code for fitness. Things were simple. The approach: get it done, get dressed and get on with your day. Oh how times have changed.
Fast forward to present day. The world has become our gym. Fitness has left the building. I repeat, fitness has left the building. With CrossFit in the park, yoga on a mountaintop, boot camp at the track, the traditional four walls and a weight rack are no longer the preferred means to getting a tight end. Our approach to fitness has changed and so has our attire. We have rebranded exercise clothing as “activewear” and taken it to the streets. Slouchy team building t-shirts and shapeless shorts are no longer acceptable threads. It’s less about being fit and more about looking fly on the fly. Our closets are filled with two types of clothing, dri-fit and dry clean. There isn’t much need for anything in between. Casualwear has been couched. Compression tights have given women the confidence they were lacking to publicly display their spandex clad stems (much to a Montana lawmaker’s dismay) and the assurance that their caboose is no longer loose.
And to whom do we give thanks? The well-known athletic wear leader, Lululemon, for creating these everyday, exercise inspired Spanx. These wicking wonders defy gravity and work round the clock. For some, they have even made labor-intensive circuits, leg lifts and lunges optional. Why workout when you can wriggle into a pair of technical tights and achieve similar results? Why not consider your daily routine a rep? Activewear has transformed our mentality about exercise, thus producing several new schools of thought: “I look fit therefore I am fit”, “If I like the outfit perhaps I’ll try the activity”, and “I burn more calories merely by wearing calisthenic clothing.” What once was ‘exercise to look and feel good in your everyday clothing’ has become ‘look good and feel good in your activewear and maybe you’ll exercise’. As a result, people’s Lulu game has become stronger than their body.
Yes, I am giving activewear a lot of credit as I speak of its transformative qualities. No, I do not intend to disparage people that are actually active in their activewear. To you I say, curl on! Burpee it up! There are plenty of beautifully sculpted fitness crusaders who do the work and get the results, and there are no shortages of these goddesses in Park City. No false advertising necessary or clothing engineering feats required. What I am speaking to is the trending athleisure attitude of “Those who can, do. And those who don’t, can dress the part.” Activewear is promoting a state of mind and not a state of living. Lately, I find myself asking: is this mindset helping us or hurting us? Have we replaced healthy habits with killer athletic apparel?
Activewear is no glass slipper. It is designed for running stairs. But do not be fooled by that perfect fit. By putting it on, you won’t become the belle of the ball, walking away with Prince Charming and the keys to the kingdom. It can’t totally undo the 2 am frozen pizza or desk drawer full of chocolate bars. It’s not your fairy godmother. Instead, it acts as magic fairy dust—dressing the body and bewitching the mind. Unfortunately this new ethos doesn’t change the fact that by the stroke of midnight (aka a wardrobe change) if you are a pretender, you will go back to being a pumpkin. Spandex does not replace the work.
Now, this is not meant to be an ultimatum for the eradication of activewear. Take a good look around you. Lululemon and its activewear cohorts are everywhere, and, because of that, they aren’t going anywhere. And I hope they don’t. It has given comfort, courage and perk to my areas in need of a little work. I am not alone. Everyday people are performing everyday acts in performance-enhancing clothing, living the activewear dream. Is that so wrong?
My answer is no. Activewear sets my intention for a workout while sending the message that I am ready for whatever life throws at me. This stuff bends when I’m about to break and gives me some stretch in my structured life. It is a uniform for performing superhuman daily tasks. From the carpool lane to the conference room, garden to grocery store, doctor’s office to doughnut shop, activewear is achieving results for our “full-contact lifestyle.”
My point? Pause to take a moment and conduct a personal inventory. Where do you stand in this fitness fashion movement? Have your pieces replaced your practice? If the answer is no, keep on keepin’ on. If the answer is yes, now is your chance to recalibrate. Let Lululemon and its Lycra League empower you with their go-get-em inspired garments. Now is the time to put the active back in your activewear.
Jane, you had it right. Leg lifts are just as important as leg warmers.
Sincerely written while in activewear,
We would like to extend a special thanks to our strong and beautiful friend, Erin Ruzek, for helping and humoring us with this unusual photo shoot. She clearly puts the “active” in activewear, and looks good doing it.