People who see me exercise generally know that I can be a real dag when getting sweaty. For yoga I’ve got the stalwart faded and stretched mandala leggings I thrifted for $4, a cheap cotton tank, and if I’m lucky, my 6-year old Lululemon jacket that I have literally worn about 1000 times (not exaggerating). When it comes to cycling, the standards are…well…defiantly off-base and not what the cool kids are wearing these days. Sure, I’ve got the cycling knicks (because who wants sore bottom bits?), but there’s no geometric-patterned neon jersey, and my sturdy sneakers replace clip-ins. I’ve got a daggy, non-aero helmet, I am definitely not #sockdoping and I wear my regular sunnies. Shame, right?
…I am definitely not #sockdoping and I wear my regular sunnies. Shame, right?
Well, not really. And it’s not because I wouldn’t love a beautiful women’s specific cycling jersey – I am just yet to find one that doesn’t look like it was designed using clip art. I understand all the benefits and practicalities of wearing proper cycling shoes. I swear I’m not being stubborn, it’s just that I don’t CARE enough to let it stop me from doing what I love and enjoy that keeps me mentally and physically healthy. I’m a bit of a believer that rules are meant to be broken (or at least tested).
There’s studies on how wearing active wear all the time can help you feel more confident and want to exercise more – our clothes have a symbolic meaning that effects our behaviour. The theory is that wearing your butt-lifting gym gear down to the shops can influence how you see yourself, and the identity others give you, which has a cyclical effect that may encourage you to actually get to the gym. Yes, I get all that, I get colour theory, and how we are affected psychologically by our type of clothing (it’s called enclothed cognition), but I have to say I’m not buying it (or those new Fabletics yoga pants, unless someone wants to get them for my birthday). Don’t kid yourself that’s all you need. At least not completely.
Wearing your butt-lifting gym gear down to the shops can influence how you see yourself, and the identity others give you, which has a cyclical effect that may encourage you to actually get to the gym. But don’t kid yourself that’s all you need.
The thing is, a lot of the gear we wear when exercising, apart from being practical, says more to others about who we are. It’s a construction, an ideal representation of what we want people to see and believe about us, which can in turn influence how we feel about ourselves. And sure, if I had a beautiful new kit, I might feel like I’m part of the cycling culture because I’m wearing the common ‘uniform’, but when it comes down to it, that feeling can be cultivated regardless of what we wear.
And that cultivation, that motivation comes from the inner, not the outer – it’s a chosen mindset that you decide yourself, not something that others ‘give’ you. You don’t need a new pair of yoga leggings to convince you of anything about your yoga practice. I don’t have to have clip-in shoes to cycle up Norton Summit. You don’t even need shoes to go for a walk. The point is, you can do it despite those things, regardless of whether you want, ‘need’ or have them and definitely despite what others may think. Let motivation come from within – to commit to health, enjoy nature, and be with friends. To do it. That’s something a pair of leggings can’t always offer.
So go out there, be your daggiest, flarey-est, most or least kitted up self and remember the clothes don’t make the lady.