My workout gear is a Lewiston Maineiacs t-shirt and Princeton wrestling shorts. It is a pretty safe bet that when I am wearing them I’ll tear through my dynamic warm-up, get after some explosive exercises, and all in all have a quality workout. Sure the t-shirt is not high tech or moisture wicking… but Lewy’s devilish grin strikes fear in a dumbbell rack. I do not have an Ivy league degree nor any true wrestling proficiency… but I dare anyone to try to take me down with a double-leg on the way to the exercise bike. Seems there may be some psychology to our gym clothes.
Research from Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky may give a few insights into the power of our exercise gear. In examining the concept of “enclothed cognition” they have found that what we wear seems to shape both our actions and attitude. When wearing a doctor’s lab coat one tends to be attentive and careful. Our clothing carries symbolic meaning that facilitates particular performance behaviors.
Seems like it is pretty important to choose our workout clothes wisely - not necessarily for their biomechanical engineering, but rather for the psychological edge they provides. It is important to look good when exercising… not so you can fit in with the cult of the yoga pant nor to impress those around you… but rather to cue your own actions and energy towards quality workouts. Wear what you like and wear it to add a nudge to your performance.
I suspect my workout gear makes me a bit tougher than I actually am. What is your exercise image? Is your gym bag packed appropriately?
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.