Fashion + Psychology

Does expensive athletic wear actually make us want to work out?

Have you ever heard somebody telling you that they’re thinking of going the gym, but don’t have nice gym clothes so they’ll have to wait?

Perhaps its a similar equivalent with yourself if you feel the need or even just the desire to purchase a set of brand new gym clothes within the first week of training?

I would bet on the fact that you have heard that at least once before or that you’re the guilty culprit in question and that is because this is actually a very common thing. The concept of expensive athletic wear inclining us to work out is very similar to paying for a gym membership.

We feel like once we’ve signed up and the money starts to leave our bank account that if we don’t make the most of it then we are in essence losing money for no particular reason and nobody enjoys wasting money.

Expensive gym clothes are a similar concept. If you’ve forked out the cash and don’t even go to workout then you feel like you’ve wasted your money, or at least are not making the most of it. It is a way to force yourself out to that gym that you’ve been putting off each New Years resolution.

When it comes to the psychology behind this concept, a study held in 2012 supports the idea that the clothes you wear do directly affect your mood. Cognitive psychologists Hajo Adam and Adam Galinksy from Northwestern University coined the term ‘enclothed cognition’.

Enclothed cognition captures the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. It is part of a larger field of research that examines how humans think with both their brains and their bodies, an area of study known as embodied cognition.

Embodied cognition found that clothing can in fact improve our performance on tasks and enhance our psychological states. This leads to the belief that if somebody was to spend out on expensive athletic wear it would make them feel more like an athlete which in tow could boost their confidence and make them want to work out more.

Next time you go to get dressed you can test this theory out yourself. Before you get dressed contemplate what you’re feeling for the day. Are you confident and fierce? Or perhaps relaxed and reserved? Once you’ve got the feeling down, actively pick out clothing that you believe resonates with this.

Chances are, the chosen feeling will be enhanced and you’ll probably notice some behavioural changes within yourself as you are more at ease with your own clothes.

Relating this back to athletic wear, if you like to work out, compete in sports or just go for a run outside. Apply the same concept as you get changed into your sports wear and see whether it makes you feel more inclined to smash a workout than when you were slouched in your pyjamas.

One of the researchers, Adam, actually commented on this directly and said,  “I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out.”

This theory would heavily support the fact that activewear brands have grew hugely in popularity recently, besides the two big names of Adidas and Nike. Brands solely dedicated to gym clothes like Lululemon, Alphalete and Gymshark have smashed sales figures. Gymshark alone was heralded as one of the fastest growing companies in the UK in 2018 and had growth figures of up to 200% each year.

In the US however, the activewear market is the largest in the world, accounting for more than a third of all activewear sales worldwide. The market is expected to grow to $69.2 billion in 2020, which is up from $54.3 billion in 2015.

The growth alone demonstrates that we love to spend out on gym clothes when we find that sudden motivation to get fit each year. But I suppose at the end of the day whether that makes you feel more motivated and encourages you to work out is down to you.

Although studies show that wearing gym clothes may entice you to workout more. I think that it is up to the individual and their personal goals and I doubt that the effect it has is very drastic. If somebody lacks the motivation to workout, suddenly changing into some leggings won’t get them racing out the door like Usain Bolt.

When it comes down to it, either you want to start working out or you don’t. Heading to the shops and buying out the store in the hope that it will immediately change your spirit is probably not the smartest idea and may lead to you staring at your bank balance with regret once again.

Perhaps starting the gym first in whatever sporty clothes you can find for a week or two is a good idea, as you can then figure out whether you have the desire to carry it on. If so, spend to your hearts content on whatever clothing makes you feel empowered as you workout. You never know, maybe you’ll start to run a little faster and lift a little heavier.

Related Links: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022103112000200

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/12/psychology-of-lululemon-how-fashion-affects-fitness/281959/

https://www.multivu.com/players/English/7739431-cotton-incorporated-lifestyle-monitor/

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