The world of science-fiction is full of super fabrics that serve all manner of amazing purposes. From the indestructible fabric of a superhero's 'super suit', to high-tech space suits that protect future interstellar soldiers from the nastiest of xenomorphs; these fabrics allow amazing feats to be accomplished through smart engineering.
For today's fitness enthusiasts, these fictional super fabrics have become a modern-day reality, thanks to a cutting-edge workout gear, like Under Armour's new energy-return garments, appropriately named Rush.
"The technology behind Rush is based on infrared therapy," said Chris Mitchell, Under Armour Product Trainer. "It's a proven treatment to help people recover faster, by dilating capillaries, which allows those blood vessels to take on more oxygen. The more oxygen the body can take on, the quicker they are to recover."
From rest to sweat
Yes, it sounds like the stuff science-fiction, but the 'body energy recycling' technology for Rush - mineral-infused fabric that absorbs body heat and re-emits infrared waves back to the body – was developed a number of years ago, by Celliant; the world's leading responsive textile manufacturer.
The first iteration of this concept was a range of exercise recovery garments designed with an American football quarterback and Super Bowl champion.
"We originally created a sleepwear line with Tom Brady using Celliant technology," said Mitchell. "It was a post-workout recovery concept with hexagonal shaped prints inside the garment that captures heat from the body and reflects that back to the body to promote a oxygenisation during rest."
The result when applying the same technology to the Rush line is a garment that passively assists the body's ability to recover during the actual workout phase. As Mitchell says:
"We took the same technology [in the Recovery garments] and infused the threads of the actual garment, which allows Rush garments to stretch and flex with the athlete. This allows them to enjoy the same benefits of infrared therapy, to get that edge, while sweating and training, as much as when they're recovering."
Up until the mid-nineties, the workout world was dominated by two things: C+C Music Factory and sweaty workout garments. Under Armour shook up the latter forever when the company introduced a revolutionary new moisture-wicking fabrics; a technical polyester that breathes while drawing moisture away from the skin.
With the launch of the company's new Rush garments, it appears Under Armour has once again raised the tide for all boats.
"Back when everyone was wearing cotton t-shirts, they thought that's all there was," said Mitchell. "Then Under Armour developed technical polyester with moisture-wicking properties, and now we can't live without that. Then compression garments came out and we can't live without that. I consider Rush the next stage of the evolution of performance apparel."
"We have an attitude that an athlete is any customer who wants to perform better and recover faster – it's not just for the 'elite' athlete, but anyone who wants to reach peak performance during training."
While these new threads are likely to turn a few heads at the gym, you can luckily still keep Gonna Make You Sweat on high rotation in your workout playlist without anyone being the wiser.
Classic threads, modern function
Of course, if your tastes run to more classic ideas of clothing, one of the oldest 'super fabrics' you're likely to encounter is wool.
American 'athleisure' company, Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL), in conjunction with Australia's own Woolmark Company, has created a versatile range of woollen garments that allow you to easily transition between rest and workout without stopping to change outfits.
"The strongest appeal for APL was the ability to use a fibre with the natural temperature regulation that occurs with Merino wool," said NJ Falk, Managing Partner for Athletic Propulsion Labs, discussing the company's new Merino wool collection. "As an active fibre, it reacts to the changes in body temperature and the outside environment to warm up and cool down as needed."
"It is also naturally breathable and odour resistant, so can be worn multiple times without being washed."
Style anywhere you go
Anyone who has woollen garments in their wardrobe won't be surprised this natural product ticks so many boxes in the list of requirements for workout apparel. In APL premium style, each item in this collection looks just as good outside the gym as well.
"This collection is designed for an active lifestyle," said Falk. "The pieces will seamlessly support every facet of life, from travel to training. It also naturally resists wrinkles, which is what makes these pieces inherently great for travel."
Each piece of APL apparel also embodies an environmental aspect; one that results from being sourced from a natural product.
"We wanted to create a collection that is long-lasting with stylish sustainable investment pieces," said Falk. "As Merino wool is one hundred per cent natural and biodegradable, the overall impact of the garment is lighter. Not only is this great for your wardrobe rotation, but also for the environment as Merino garments don't need to be washed as often."
Whether it's a high-tech garment made from cutting-edge technology or a stylish piece of apparel made from one of the world's oldest fabrics, today's exercise attire offers a myriad of choices without leaving you hot and sweaty.