Can adding geeky clothes to your workout make a difference? We gave it a try

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May 14, 2016, 7:52 PM EDT (Updated)

When I heard that Her Universe was launching a new Marvel activewear collection at Kohl’s, my first thought was how it was nice to see another area adding geeky options for fangirls. My second thought was: Could adding some geekiness to my workout really inspire me to exercise? Sure, I love channeling my favorite characters and franchises through geek fashion in my day-to-day life, but exercise is another matter. Since I stopped fencing, forms of exercise beyond the sport haven't appealed to me very much recently.

So I was intrigued by the opportunity to see if this Captain America: Civil War activewear would make a difference. (Disclosure: Her Universe sent free items for review.) The capsule collection includes pieces inspired by Black Widow, Iron Man and Captain America. The items I received were all Iron Man and a size medium. I’ve never been very fond of gyms, so I decided to focus on an intense workout on my own instead, trying each of the pieces as I went. The mix of aerobics, strength training, stretching and more put the collection through a variety of moves where I felt I was able to determine what was comfortable and what I wouldn’t want to necessarily wear again. I also added a few moves to my workout from the short video shared by Her Universe on YouTube with founder Ashley Eckstein and the stunt double for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Heidi Moneymaker.

First, I’ll share some overall observations about the line. I really liked the styles of these items and how they incorporated Iron Man’s colors, the image of his helmet and the “Be a Hero” tagline for the collection. Each piece was quite soft and breathed well during my workout. As for the specific items, let’s look at the bottoms before the tops. There are two pairs of yoga shortie shorts, one in black and one with the graphic design. While immensely comfortable at first, the shorts took their “shortie” title to heart a bit too much for my liking. The mediums rode up on me whenever I tried to bend, squat and generally move around a lot. It made continuing to move uncomfortable until I could pull the shorts down my legs as I exercised. During one intense workout, I was so focused on what I was doing I was able to forget about the shorts briefly, but it still left me moving quite oddly until I could pull them down my thighs again. They frankly didn’t look so great when they did that either, so I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing these if I was exercising with others around. It might just be that I’m not used to this style, or maybe it means I needed a different size.

The capri leggings were the bottoms that won me over. There were two pairs of these as well. One was an amazing-looking graphic design pair and the other a black pair with the words “Be a Hero” down the side with Iron Man’s helmet. Despite both of these being capris, they fit like regular leggings on my 5' frame (can someone please create a bunch of petite geek fashion lines next?). The graphic pair looked great and overall fit well, but unfortunately, the seams of the design rubbed against my knees and legs whenever I bent or moved too much, which became very itchy. It made me want to bend less, which defeated the purpose of the workout for the most part. The simpler black leggings, on the other hand, were much better. They were comfortable with no itching, and fit well. The movement they offered was great.


As for the tops, there was much more variety in these options. The two bralettes are never a style I’d probably feel comfortable with wearing on their own, but wearing them underneath the other tops worked well and for the most part they were comfortable. Following the pattern of the bottoms, one bralette was in the graphic Iron Man pattern, while the other was mostly black. The Iron Man muscle tee was more my style. It felt so soft and was extremely comfortable. The armholes were really large, though, but it looked good once I wore one of the bralettes underneath. The armholes of the racerback tank top were similar, so I wore a bralette under this top as well. Otherwise, it was as comfortable as the muscle tee. 

My favorite tops in the end were the two combination bralette tank tops. These came in similar designs to the bralettes and bottoms with a graphic one and a more solid black option, but the style was quite unique. At first, I wasn’t too sure about them, because the backs drop down to expose the built-in bralette. Once I was wearing them, though, I really liked the interesting stylish twist, and it looked good. They were comfortable and offered enough support no matter what I did.

Once I found my favorite outfit - the graphic bralette tank top and the black capri leggings - I was really getting into my workout. I felt comfortable and confident in how I looked in this outfit, which in turn led my letting loose my inner Iron Man. I did do one final workout and joined the live Periscope Black Widow-inspired training session Her Universe hosted with Eckstein and a number of fellow fangirls that was led by Moneymaker and her Fierce Lotus partner Lisa Newman. The half-hour workout combined fitness with learning a Black Widow fight sequence. It was separated into sections where we learned some moves of the fight with fitness elements added on. After repeating each section a few times, first slowly and then at a faster pace, we moved on to the next. This included a mix of punches, kicks, dodges, and more.


At the end, the fitness parts were removed from each section and we just went through the fight sequence. Even without the extra elements, the fight sequence still offered a good workout and the entire session was a lot of fun. Most of what made it fun wasn’t so much the comfortable workout clothes as it was working out with fellow fangirls making geeky references as we exercised. Seriously, is there just a geek-themed gym somewhere, because sign me up! Of course, the atmosphere and feeling like you were learning Black Widow moves made wearing the activewear extra fun.

In the end, trying to geek out my workout with these clothes was an interesting experience. I’m not sure it inspired me enough to make me want to “Be a Hero” that exercises regularly given my busy schedule, but the fact that I found options that felt comfortable and made me feel good wearing them makes me think it won’t be too long before I might try to do another workout soon even if it is just in my own home. I might be able to feel this confident in regular workout gear too if I found something I liked, but as a geek, these pieces did draw me in, in a way other exercise clothes never have. Plus if Her Universe and Fierce Lotus team up for any other geek-themed workouts, I will definitely throw on my Iron Man activewear to join in. After a few of those, who knows? Maybe I will want to show off my geeky gear at the gym to connect with my fellow geeks there just like I connect with them everywhere else!

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