“SMART CLOTHING”- 4 REASONS THIS TREND NEEDS TO DIE
By : Jordan Shallow D.C
Over the holidays past I wrote an article looking into the usefulness and efficacy of wearable fitness trackers: FitBits, Jaw Bones, Nike + , Apple watches etc. But I made a last minute decision to not post the article for several reasons, most importantly; I didn’t want to rain on the parade of those looking to make a big change in the New Year.
Even though I don’t advocate the questionable science that is found in the majority of these wearable fitness trackers I honestly believe they come from a place of good intention, and for that they were exempt from my scathing, hyper-critical review.
But as of late, there has been a new type of fitness wearable that seems to be gaining momentum in the outskirts of the sport performance market. It’s not little watches or inconspicuous bands but rather “smart clothing”- sensor laden long sleeve shirts and pants that reproduce your body’s movement in a jittery, spastic avatar and attempt to present you with some sort of tangible metrics in which to base your program off of.
These companies want you to believe that their censored-spandex clothing (which makes you look more like Andy Serkis playing Gollum, than an actual athlete looking to make progress) can help you keep your form while working out and serve as a personal trainer of sorts by keeping you aligned while you perform an exercise. One company has gone as far to say that their product offer “olympic caliber coaching for everyone”.
Here’s why guys like Charles Poliquin , Eric Cressey aren’t worried about losing their jobs to a t-shirt…
1) SMART CLOTHING- STUPID PEOPLE:
Okay, obviously the egg-head CEO’s and engineers of these companies are intelligent, literate, competent individuals, probably with prestigious degrees from reputable schools. But in the gym, they’re physically illiterate, there are no requirements in computer science programs that you know how to squat ass-to-grass, or perform a proper bench press.
Even though I can’t code my way out of a wet paper bag, when I’m in the gym I’m the CEO, I’m the head engineer.
The thing these companies wont understand is that movement is our 6th sense, kinematic proprioception is an experience just like our other senses.
Imagine for a second that you’ve never seen the color blue, or never tasted peanut butter and you asked someone who’s never seen it either to describe it to you…But in this case that person doesn’t describe it to you; he rather makes a spandex shirt and a shitty app to attempt to describe it for him.
FItBits and Jaw Bones market themselves to a broad demographic of soccer dads and working mom’s, encouraging them to stand up more at work, or take the stairs to their apartment. This broad market and plethora of applications allows the price of these products to be relatively low.
“Smart Clothing”, on the other hand has a much smaller application, and is targeted to a very niche market. So for all you gullible early adopters out there be prepared to spend well over 500$ to look like a renaissance era Tony Stark.
With one company offering a “founder’s journey package” costing $9,999.99. A package described as a whirlwind trip, which
consists of (and I’m not making this up) trips to coffee shops and apartments in Chicago, and Dinner at the CEO’s parent’s house in Denver. Better act fast, because there are only 5 spots left in this gullible pilgrimage! *Shakes head
3) THE DRONE ANALOGY:
All is fair in love, war and sports. Every athlete is looking to get that edge over their competition, But for these companies to make a claim like “olympic- caliber coaching” from a device that fits in your pocket is an insult.
I know It’s hard to imagine but there are just some places were innovative technology does NOT reign supreme. If I’m marching into a battlefield and my choice of air support is F-22 raptor with Mav and Goose at the controls, or some auto-piloted Fischer-Price model airplane Drone hovering above me I think the decision would be pretty clear.
Just as if I was preparing for a competition, or sporting event I would much rather have the mindful eye of a seasoned professional examining my training, then some polyester blend long, sleeve shirt (who the hell wears sleeves when they workout?) giving feedback to my cellphone about the mechanics of my squat form.
You can’t program experience. There is no app for that.
4) OBJECTIVE OUTCOME MEASURES:
Objective outcome measures are benchmarks of progress that are designated a concrete value, and specific to each individuals training goal. This is a theme that is universally lost when people are being sold on the latest fit-fad.
For example, if you were a sprinter your objective outcome measure would ultimately be the time in which you ran your 100m. If you were a power lifter, your outcome measure would be your total.
Methods of tracking progress towards these outcomes have been around since the beginning of time. If your goal is lift more weight… lift more weight. Put weight on a bar; get a calculator-do the math-get stronger. If the goal is run faster… then run faster. Use a stop watch-see how much faster you ran.
Because come competition day you can have all the flashy data, colour coded bar graphs and shirts with glowing sensors you want. If you haven’t got faster, or haven’t gotten stronger you can’t plead your case with the judges “well my t-shirt told my phone that I generated more force”.
I’m afraid the momentum of this poorly applied science has already hit critical mass. It’s penetration in the the market is inevitable, so my only advice to give is be resistant and STICK TO THE BASICS. and always..
Jordan Shallow D.C