I’ve been spending a week quietly changing my gym routine – see, I used to run quite a bit indoors but never ventured outside. I recently started running outside and it’s all very different but it means I can’t run indoors now. That’s sort of good, because those stats about how many mW the average treadmill consumes are scary (1500 or so per hour). It hurts to think about it when phrased like that.
Anyway, I’ve gone and done a lot of stuff, without discriminating: pilates, yoga, circuit training, abs, weights, rowing. It’s all very interesting, I don’t like all of it, some of it is pretty boring in my opinion and the only interesting thing I like is circuit training. I know women like or should like pilates and yoga but I like my routine more active than that.
Previously I’d been using Nike Training Club, which is a great little app, though I think you outgrow it if you start taking it seriously. The one thing it’s missing is a daily reminder to tell you to start your workout at a given time – it may have been added later, but I haven’t checked it yet.
There are other great apps out there, but they’re largely focused on the running: NHS’s Couch to 5K is proving to be really popular and I think there’s no shortage of people running things or climbing mountains for children, charities, good causes. That’s all lovely news. Then there are apps like Lucozade, which seem to copy the old Nike Training Club quite a lot (see their Fit Coach stuff):
Anyway, Nike have changed – and so has everything else about Nike Women. The look, feel and photography looks darker now, but darker compared to the green and pink above. It’s more competitive through its achievements but that’s not the point.
The point is the look and feel of Nike Women in general, from the clothes and fit to the fact that there aren’t many other brands that ‘get’ women and their sports. There aren’t many brands that get the dynamics of sports to begin with and making clothing that’s appropriate for each of them, so you end up with a patchwork of mix and match stuff bought because it was good but doesn’t look good on the whole.
Shock Absorber is one of them – they make great sports bras, but they’re generally priced around £30 or so. Much like the price of a Triumph or Wonderbra bra. When you could get any other bra for anywhere from £3 and onwards, £30 is an investment. But women need to be pestered about the importance of a good-fitting bra every now and then, especially in sports – there’s a persistent idea that other people ‘aren’t in the gym to stare at breasts’. False. They are. Anyway, they seem to go out of their way to show clothing outside of bras. In a way that’s a good thing – the bra is the star product. But the rest is up to you.
Asics are good in trainers, not so much in shoes and clothing. Their research and development lies in the art and science of running, not so much other equipment. I think part of me would only find them believable if they extended into running clothes to support the rest of the story, but the same question keeps on bugging me – what would it look like? Because it doesn’t ‘mean’ anything yet.
I’ve become fascinated not only by the products, but how other brands style their women’s clothes:
I blame them for all the black and pink I see in gyms everywhere. It’s so dead boring.
Under Armour in my head will always be about base layers and compression gear for climbing up mountains, but I suspect that’s my own interaction with the brand. Because they actually have some decent colourful stuff you could use for running, problem is I never see it anywhere, unless I shop online:. Can you see her trousers? No you can’t. They’re kinda cool.
Sweaty Betty seem to be getting close, or at least have been getting closer. There’s a difference between garish sports clothing and colour inserted tastefully. Their stuff usually makes it into Vogue as well but it’s in the higher end of the pricing range – I wonder if you’d buy a sweaty betty wetsuit for a triathlon or go for the 80% functional 20% stylish ones that other brands make. On the bright side, it’s as comfortable as it is good looking, but that doesn’t come across in the same way. Given Nike actually style theirs on athletes, not on models, you’d be excused for mistakenly thinking they belong in a Nike lookbook.
Which brings me to Stella McCartney, which looks like ‘gym’ wear and probably wants to be it but I have yet to see in any gym – largely because it just doesn’t work out that way. With all due respect to Stella’s other stuff, it looks like gym wear for people who have never actually exerted themselves in any way, shape or form. The ladies I know wear some stuff as casual clothing but the prices are prohibitive: a foldable bag alone costs as much as a ShockAbsorber bra. And “what a useful silver fanny pack”. Said no one, ever:
And I’ve come full circle to Nike – there are other smaller brands out there but excuse me, no wonder Nike is kicking butt.
Whatever their heritage and reasons for going into the female athlete’s world, what they’ve done is so simple, it’s mind boggling why others haven’t yet figured it out.
And from what I’ve seen, despite every single one of them addressing various incomes and demographics, it’s like no one is even getting anywhere near it. Why?
I think Andrew explained it better than I have in his post about Peroni. Peroni ads are beautiful, largely photography-based. This is what got me thinking about Nike and along with it the rest of the not-so-good stuff out there in the first place:
As an agency hack, they’re not clever, there’s no big ‘idea’ but the frustrated creative in me admires the sensational photography. But as a person, they make me feel something about Peroni and create an aura I’ll feel next time I drink it. You can just imagine the one sentence brief – “Make Peroni the epitome of timeless Italian sophistication’. It’s bloody obvious for an Italian beer to ‘do quintessential Italy’ but this work feels so right. Sometimes you need the right idea, you just need the right ‘setting’.
That’s the problem – there’s only one of them. And I don’t know about other women, but I’ve reached that point where even though some items are more than I’d like to spend on gym wear (hello £40 tops), I have realised that a) I do spend a lot of time in the gym, so the investment is justifiable and b) I can spend less on other stuff and not feel or even look as good in it or have to buy it again after a few weeks.