I avoided shopping at Lululemon — and the whole athleisure lifestyle — for a while.
Like many of my twentysomething cohorts, I couldn’t justify dropping that much money on a pair of pants that I would just work out in. I could, however, justify dropping money on the following: shoes, cabs, and booze.
Yet, given my clear predilection for unhealthy behaviour, I have always loved exercising. In fact, I’ve loved traditional exercise ever since I figured out that playing sports — something I am terrible at — wasn’t the only way to break a sweat. I never needed a lot of motivation to go for a run, create my own indoor cycling workout, or do my mum’s Tae Bo videos (early aughts, mind you) in the living room, like the 45-year-old woman I apparently was when I was 14. I’ve never been one to show off my hobby on Instagram, but it’s always been something I enjoyed.
But cut to a desk job. And cut to not wanting to slog hours on the elliptical to make up for all the sitting I do. I turned to group exercise classes to amp up my motivation and to shake things up.
But there’s a catch for being motivated: these classes require you to look in the mirror and assess your recently acquired five-to-ten pounds from your desk job and your tired eyes — and the hole in your leggings from college, which, by the way, are $4 leggings from 2008 that make your legs look like living sausages.
And when you’re done with the workout, you’re essentially wearing a wet washcloth. And that’s a terrible feeling, so the gym becomes less fun, as it has turned into a visual therapy session in which you are forced to reconcile with the person you have become and are in that moment — not the person you were five years ago.
And suddenly, you want to take your workouts to the next level — maybe those interval training classes and weight training are good ideas. You want to start investing in your wellness, and you want to stop wearing loosely sewn together pieces of cloth during your workouts. You want to show up and look good in the mirror, essentially telling yourself: “I’ve shown up. I’m doing this. I’m owning my wellness and I’m going to try.”
Enter athleisure — and Lululemon.
I changed my mind about the brand when I made the active decision to step inside a Lululemon; I toyed with the decision for a while. Would I be forced to sacrifice my soul for a pair of pants? But I walked in, and I was surrounded by a bunch of women who were all trying to figure out the same thing that I was: how they could incorporate their workouts more easily into their lives. And then I put on a pair of pants, and there was no turning back.
Although Nike is the number one apparel company in the United States, Lululemon has become synonymous with the words “athleisure” — but that’s because the brand is doing something right.
“Put simply, [Lululemon] is one of the strong brands in the growth athleticwear category,” Wells Fargo analysts wrote in a research note.
The brand is appealing to women’s desires to better themselves.
In fact, this might be why Lululemon’s target customer is personified as a 32-year-old woman named Ocean — someone who has it figured out, and someone who has graduated from the unhealthy choices that define many people’s early 20s. There’s probably a reason Lululemon is not chasing after teen girls and early twenty-somethings. They’re too busy spending money elsewhere, and that’s part of adolescence. But Lululemon has captured the people in their late twenties who are aspiring to make changes in their lives, whether or not they can actually accomplish them.
That said, Lululemon has its share of missteps, as well as a bizarre backstory, largely in part thanks to founder Chip Wilson’s odd legacy — and no, I don’t subscribe to the cult of naked yoga and I don’t drink Ayn Rand Kool-Aid for breakfast. I fully recognise the absurdity that is often associated with the brand.
But the clothes fit, and I feel good when I look in the mirror in a class. I like that everything’s held in and compressed. It makes me want to work harder — and when everything’s supported properly, it’s definitely easier to work harder. It even makes me more excited to show up to workout at a class. Is that a little shallow? Maybe. But face enough harshly lit group exercise rooms and wear the wrong gear for years and you might feel the same.
To be fair, I wear clothing from athletic apparel companies, too, as this can be true for any well-made athletic wear company. The questions remain the same: does it make you feel stronger? Does it actually enhance your performance? Does it stop the jiggle when you’re doing burpees? And does it withstand the test of time/washing machine?
The latter question is pretty crucial.
I stopped shopping at Forever 21 because I didn’t want things that couldn’t last when I needed them the most. I believe that my wellness is something that could last, provided I invest in it.
General wellness, as I veer into my later twenties, is something I have resolved to try for — which means more than just going to the gym. It means incorporating better choices into my overall lifestyle.
Some other things I’ve done as a part of this resolution include eating less garbage, (attempting) to drink less, and trying to be more careful with my money — especially with a forthcoming wedding this year. But fortunately, since good workout clothes are durable, it helps that I do not need to constantly go back and buy more — it’s not disposable, like the $4 leggings from my college days. And my other resolution — to pack my lunch and not buy it — seems reinforced with Lululemon bags, which can double as handy lunch bags. (Apparently, many other women walking around the Flatiron district appear to be doing this as well.)
I’m not some holier-than-though green-juice swilling yogic Lululemon devotee. I’m not this girl who served green juice at her wedding. I am not doing a dry January. I’m definitely not Ocean. But, I aspire to be better, to work harder, and to make smarter choices. Throwing all of my money away on athleisure apparel is not a smart choice. But owning the fact that I purchased a pair of nice workout pants instead of several well drinks is…not so shabby for someone who’s trying.
And another part of this overall healthier lifestyle? Opting not to care if someone thinks I’m basic for wearing Lululemon.
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