For me, experiences inside the yoga world are conducive to the stigmas the outside world has about yoga. Places aren’t straight-male friendly, with tiny male changing rooms and tons of incredibly forward gay men. Yogis do have different personalities, displaying some things I share and some things I simply don’t. Plus, yoga is difficult and it is discouraging to see women half your size show more control over body weight and respiratory stamina than you can. But I’m an athlete. I practice yoga for many reasons, but mostly because I’m interested in heightening the overall performance of my body and mind together. I believe strongly that such aims are the cornerstones of fitness, so I make my yoga practice, as well as the calisthenics I practice, the running I practice and the sports I practice about mastery of skill, endurance, and triggered performance.
One thing I do love about the yoga world is Lululemon.
From the perspective of the average American, Lululemon is filled with nauseatingly-cheery salespeople (cutely called ‘educators’), incredibly overpriced but deliciously comfortable clothing, and like everything else in the yoga world, accommodates women and boxes in men-In the stores, on the website, naturally, without thinking of it. Why? The company still attracts an overwhelmingly female consumer, and companies go where the money will be spent in their field.
To me, Lululemon is a corporate embodiment of Conservative Fitness.
Last fall, Lululemon gave itself a chance to get conservative, and the world was outraged to find out that Lululemon’s goal-coaching, and inspirational quoting and educating was a quest to deliver the world from mediocrity to greatness. People threatened to boycott. Liberal hatred for Ayn Rand surfaced from every angle. You know what I did? I bought some more Lululemon. I joined their Research and Development program. I went to stores and had conversations with educators. What I found out was that this was my first encounter with organized conservative fitness.
Those pushy educators, they’re doing two things:
First, they’re telling you what the product does, because any liberal-minded, superficial idiot can understand that a pair of pants will make your butt look better, but it takes a human being with real integrity to buy something because it is an effective tool for your task.
Second, they’re conversing with you to find out if you’re one of them. Basically, everyone in that store wants to know why you’ve walked in to see their product because if you’re like them, you can make this product an effective tool in your life.
In an Ayn Rand sort of way, they fully expect the John Galt of fitness to walk through those glass doors, round up the most selfish conservatives in fitness, and stop the fitness world.
And there isn’t one problem with that to me.
I though, am in the minority. Many think that a brand that is yoga-inspired should be a compassionate, liberal, accepting one. These people forget that before compassion, before release, before the liberal aspects of yoga are explored, the practice must happen conservatively. My in-class intention for a long time has simply been “control,” because I believe that yoga is about control over body and mind. To me, taking that control every time is what separates me from the individual trying to get into shape for all of the wrong reasons. At Lululemon, the focus seems to be control, turning weaknesses into strengths, and preparing yourself for success. The problem is that the average individual has no idea that fitness even can be about these things, much less that they should.
My idea is to expand Lululemon’s vision to become the first yoga-inspired organization to embrace and highlight the goal-oriented, fit, healthy American male and much as they do females with the same attributes. The idea is not to compete with the expansive Nike empire, but to give men a product and voice that helps those men with conservative fitness philosophies who would usually wear a Nike, Reebok, Adidas or Under Armour product made for a professional athlete, treat their Lulu with the same love and trust. It may mean more generous cuts in the shirts, and pants more suited for high-speed movements, or it may even more simply mean highlighting elite-looking, hot-bodied, success obsessed male ambassadors like the female ones to push their product. If you think I’m wrong, go take a look at the marketing of coconut water in the last year.
I wear and endorse Lululemon because more than any other athletic wear brand, they understand that their product, their philosophy, their personality, isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t so bad if that discourages those who don’t want to get it. Now its time to find some men who get it, some fitness conservatives who buy products because they improve tasks, who practice yoga because it will help them to build a position of control in their lives and in the world, and who compete at life because you play to win the game.