Being in the health industry, we see a lot of new products that claim to do a lot of new things. Teas that make you skinny, shoes that make you run faster, lotions that make you ten years younger. But since I’m yet to transform into Heidi Klum, Usuain Bolt or…a fifteen-year-old girl, it seems the only thing that’s changed is my skepticism.
So when I was introduced to active wear brand Physiclo, the concept behind their clothing sounded too good to be true: buy a new pair of tights (win) and you’ll burn more calories when you wear them (win, win).
Founded by Frank Yao and Keeth Smart, Physiclo produce compression tights with built-in resistance bands. By integrating elastic panels into the construction, the pants counteract your every movement making workouts harder but more effective. In other words, they maximise results and minimise time – and isn’t that what we’re all searching for in this power age?
Designed by a group of medical students from New York University, the idea began as a school project.
“At the time, we were spending quite a bit of time helping out in the clinics and working with patients,” Yao told me. “We saw a lot of people suffering from chronic illnesses, such as obesity and heart disease, that stemmed from not enough physical activity. The doctors would always counsel these patients on changing their lifestyles, but it’s very hard to change people’s habits – either they don’t have time, they’re too tired, or they just don’t want to. So that’s when we came up with this concept, as a convenient way to help them tone muscle, burn calories, and ease themselves into a more active lifestyle.”
But with a silver-medal Olympian involved (Smart), it wasn’t long until the advantages for athletic performance were recognised. What started out as an experiment soon turned into a business, with the founders reaching their funding goal (via Indiegogo) in 24 hours.
But it’s no surprise when you look at the results: wearing Physiclo increases muscle activation by 23%, heart rate by 9% and calories burned by 14%. Medical students, doctors, trainers and Olympic athletes rigorously tested the tights so it seemed the final verdict lay in one thing: my trial.
To adequately assess the tights, I wore them to a range of different workouts. I took them for an hour-long walk, a 6km run and to my regular Sunday morning (when I’m not hungover) ‘Abs, Butts, Thighs’ class. The class is predominantly resistance and plyometric; it is 45-minutes of squatting, lunging and lifting your way to a tight behind.
Upon first pull-on I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive. They didn’t feel like the slinky, figure-hugging tights I’m accustomed to. But they quickly became comfortable and familiar. The sensation was (unsurprisingly) much like using resistance bands yet more subtle and comfortable — like moving through water as opposed to not being able to move at all.
Two toned legs and two thumbs up.
As for the type of exercise, I found the tights to be beneficial in all three. They added a small amount of resistance to the walk, were more noticeable on the run and I absolutely loved them in the class.
If you’re a walker I’d highly recommend them. They are an easy way to make a low-impact, low-intensity workout more effective. In fact, I enjoyed them so much I spent the rest of the day in them and found myself contemplating if I could wear them under my pants to work to get my “workout” done for the day – am I obsessed?
But Yao and Smart recommend only wearing them for between 30 minutes and two hours, and not to wear them every day so your legs have time to rest.
As for the run, my pace was slower than usual however this is consistent with Physiclo’s own findings. A study they undertook on distance runners revealed that when training in Physiclo, their regular pace was slower however it improved their race day performance. The group of marathon and half-marathon runners that trained in Physiclo recorded a 4.2% improvement in personal bests compare with the control group (not Physiclo-adorned) who recorded a finish time 1.5% slower than their previous.
And when it came to the gym class, the resistance put my muscles under more strain causing them to fatigue quicker (in a good way). It also made the bodyweight exercises more effective. I definitely got more out of the 45-minutes than usual.
Plus, they made me feel like I was working harder than the person next to me – which is really why us egotistical fitness fanatics go to the gym in the first place, right?
The final word: although they’re not the most flattering pants, when it comes to functionality, Physiclo are the future of fitness tights. If looking slightly less good in them means looking much better out of them I think it’s a price worth paying.
Available in full-length and capris, try them out for yourself here.