What is it?
In recent months, we decided to flip round our regular resting of high-tech fitness gear to see if it catered as well to women as to men. We asked women to try out a range of products from Under Armour, a sportswear brand that has built up a reputation for cutting-edge innovations in women’s fitness.
It has made great strides, so to speak, in developing smart apparel tailored for women, particularly performance-enhancing fabric technology, using breathable and quick-drying materials that enhance comfort during workouts.
Last month, it launched its latest collection, under the banner of “the Journey to Compete”.
“This collection represents more than just physical endeavour and tangible success,’” said the manufacturer. “It encapsulates the profound sentiment and emotional aspect of the athletic journey.
“Within each piece of the Journey to Compete collection, you will find the embodiment of countless hours of training, numerous sacrifices, and an unwavering determination to achieve greatness. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, as athletes navigate through highs and lows, experiencing a wide range of emotions including exhilaration, frustration, hope, happiness, excitement, and perseverance.”
The collection, it said, showcases the most innovative and technologically advanced sportswear that Under Armour has to offer.
The highlight is the UA HeatGear High Print Sports Bra, described as “the ultimate compression bra”, with easily adjustable straps, high-support, and a mesh back that helps the user stay drier and cooler, and also get it on and off without effort. These pair ideally with Women’s HeatGear Long Shorts, made of a super-light, breathable fabric that dries fast, thanks to “wicking” – which moves sweat to a fabric’s outer surface. A wide waistband sits on the hips and ergonomic seams create a chafe-free fit.
The conclusion: the most comfortable sports gear our subject had yet worn.
These were matched with the UA Flow Dynamic training shoes for women, which replace rubber with a new cushioning technology that is both tough and “grippy”.
They are not cheap, so it’s worth dwelling on the tech that has gone into them:
- IntelliKnit uppers with strategic stretch, support and breathability, making for a light and comfortable feel.
- Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) soles that provide greater resistance and added stability;
- A plush heel collar for a locked-in fit;
- An internal shank or support for underfoot firmness during “explosive movements”;
- Flow technology which eliminates the rubber outsole; and
- Durable outsole material that increases ground traction.
For all that tech, it took a couple of days to break in and stop a mild chafing experienced initially. But after that, it was one of the most comfortable shoes our test subject had ever worn.
“It feels like they give me extra bounce and will make me run better, even if just in my head,” was the most telling comment. Along with: “This feeling like you’re walking on a cloud”.
The colour and design was also immensely appealing, and added to the enjoyment of the gear.
What does it cost?
Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Long Shorts: R599
Women’s HeatGear Armour High Printed Sports Bra: R999
Women’s UA Flow Dynamic Training Shoes: R 2,999
All available in Under Armour outlets or from https://underarmour.co.za/
Why does it matter?
By merging fashion with functionality, women’s high-tech gear fosters a sense of empowerment, encouraging women to break barriers. With continuous advancements and innovations, hi-tech gear for women offers both support and motivation to achieve their fitness goals.
Under Armour put it this way when it launched the Journey to Compete: “We understand that every athlete’s journey to compete is deeply personal and sentimental. It is a voyage where heart and soul are poured into every moment, on and off the field.”
What are the biggest negatives?
- It needs a serious investment in fitness.
- The gear is not always as comfortable as one would like from the start, although it quickly adapts to the user.
What are the biggest positives?
- Firm support, from top to toe.
- Tremendous comfort that one does not usually associate with fitness gear.
* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee.