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lululemon athletica: Team Canada quality or a middle school fad?

Reviewing our Olympic team’s new outfitter via UTrain exercises
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LEEYA SHAO/THE VARSITY
LEEYA SHAO/THE VARSITY

You circa 2010 and Canada’s Olympic team just gained a common trait: repping lululemon athletica.

The Vancouver-based company lululemon has been announced as Team Canada’s official outfitter until 2028, replacing Hudson’s Bay Canada. This deal means that athletes, coaches, and staff will be wearing lululemon at the Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies, media appearances, and around the athletes’ village.

Are you reminiscing about middle school yet? So were we. So we decided to feed into our nostalgia and put this brand to the test.You’re welcome, Team Canada.

Four of our bravest writers dug deep into their closets, strapped on their lululemon gear, and searched for the hardest UTrain exercises to test the quality of this gear. 

Stylish and comfortable — Robyn Loves

In the last 18 months of COVID-19 lockdowns, my wardrobe has slowly become composed of stretchy waistbands and soft sweaters. 

lululemon has managed to find the balance between the athleisure we all need while looking put-together enough to be seen virtually or in person. With this in mind, I joined the Mindful Moments yoga class at 6:00 pm on Thursday through the U of T Virtual Fitness Studio. I was wearing the lululemon Align High-Rise leggings with pockets and the Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Shirt 2.0. For bonus points, I used the Lululemon Reversible Yoga mat.

I love the look of the leggings. The material is soft, but thinner than some of lululemon’s other leggings. Over the years, in my accumulated struggles with putting these pants on, I had damaged the seams, but they held together well otherwise. Equally as important, these pants have real pockets. The pockets can fit a phone or keys with minimal slipping of the waistband. Overall, the pants are comfy, fit very well, and would fare equally well in a yoga class as they would in a cardio or weights session.

The same is true for the shirt; it’s comfortable and worked well in this yoga class. However, it would also be comfortable when tackling cardio or other workouts, especially in the cooler months. Its fabric is light and breathable, and the sleeves are long enough and don’t slide up when I lift my hands. In other words, it’s great for tall people. The sleeves are tight and the torso is looser than most lululemon shirts; for other workouts, this is fine, but a fitted shirt would have been better with the type of movement in a yoga class.

Overall, lululemon’s pieces were comfortable for the Mindful Moments yoga class. The materials and fit were great, and the outfit looked put-together enough that I could answer a Zoom call or run out to get coffee without having to change. 

In my opinion, Team Canada’s choice of lululemon gear will have the athletes looking stylish — unless they were really a fan of the Canadian tuxedo in 2021. More importantly, they’ll also be ready for practice or competition heading into the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games.

Trendy, not weight-friendly — Alexa DiFrancesco

Two words: Dominican Republic. 

In five short days, I’ll be boarding a flight to this destination. As a former swimmer that’s into fitness, this fact leaves me with one mission: to develop abs as tight as I possibly can. 

This is where lululemon comes in. My closet consists of two pieces from the outfitter: the Unlimit High Rise Tights, and the Scuba Oversized Zip Hoodie. Both items are hand-me-downs that are at least 10 years old. I threw them on and pressed play on UTrain’s NO BOUNDARIES: BARRE video that I found on YouTube.

The first exercises were leg stretches, followed by squats. My leggings had a semi-loose fit, which made the movements easy to execute without tightness.

Next up were planks with shoulder taps. When I exercise my abs, I opt to tuck a handheld weight under my waistband to increase my core strength. However, I couldn’t do this while wearing lululemon — because of the stretchiness of my leggings, the weight rolled out of my pants and onto the ground, much to the dismay of my sleeping family. The same incident happened during a downward-dog stretch and push-ups. 

Where my leggings were lacking, my sweater pulled through. I wore it unzipped; because of its slim fit, its sides didn’t fall in front of my face and distract me from holding the plank. Its sleeves also covered the bottom of my hands, providing a soft mediator against the carpet.

Halfway through my workout, I started to feel warm. I was swinging my arms while squatting; the warm material of my sleeves made me hyperaware of how sweaty my arms had gotten. My house’s air conditioning, still turned on from summer, did little to ease my suffering.

On the bright side, I looked as hot as I felt. My sweater’s snug fit hugged my figure, accentuating my core muscles and my waist. Its colours — a blue and white ombré — made me look so effortlessly put-together that I was tempted to do a grocery store run to show off my outfit.

Obviously, Team Canada won’t be repping winter sweaters while competing in their events. Nor will they be tucking weights under their waistbands. And don’t Olympians deserve to look hot, too? For these reasons, I have no choice but to support our team’s switch in partnerships — after all, who voluntarily buys clothing from Hudson’s Bay anyways?

“Stick to yoga” — Lilly Turmel

I’m sure that most of the Canadian population has heard of lululemon — it is a staple brand for athletic wear, especially because it was founded in Vancouver. Despite its fame, I had doubts if it was good enough for the Olympics.

I took some of my lululemon favourites and decided to test them out at the Athletic Centre, where I participated in a dance cardio class with UTrain.

I wore my all-time favourite lululemon product, the Wunder Under leggings, and a recent addition to my closet, the Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve Shirt 2.0. I chose these two not only because they are lululemon’s staples but because both the Wunder Under and Swiftly Tech fabric technologies appear in lululemon’s Team Canada collection.

lululemon advertises its clothing mostly for running, dance, and yoga. Naturally, I felt this class would be the perfect test for whether or not it can withstand a good workout. During the class, my apparel held up very well. It’s super comfortable and easy to move in, and the biggest success was that the leggings don’t slide down while I’m moving! I’m not sure if anyone else has this problem, but if I’m running or jumping a lot, I find that my leggings slip down. lululemon’s leggings didn’t do this at all. 

My biggest complaint was that the leggings weren’t very good at being sweat-wicking — when I became too sweaty, I started to get itchy. My suggestion: stick to doing yoga in them. 

An empowering nostalgia — Andrea Zhao

It started innocently enough: a couple weeks ago, I agreed to write a fun piece about doing UTrain workouts in lululemon clothing. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to further procrastinate on all the work I was already behind on. I’ll go for a class, I thought to myself, and have a delightful time in one of the shiny, fancy gymnasiums that I would finally have an excuse to visit. 

However, I soon discovered that my fleeting fantasies were not to be. My incredible time management skills won out once again, and I didn’t get around to the registration until only a few days before the article was due. By that time, there was only one class I could attend which — unsurprisingly — still had spots open: the ever-dreaded Run Club. I hesitated as I hovered my mouse over the big blue button which would seal my one-way ticket to the Land of All Pain and No Gain. 

When I reached the class, it took several embarrassing minutes to scan my TCard to even enter the premises. After making it in and out of the changing room unscathed, I emerged in my trusty old lululemon leggings — now practically on life support, but beloved nevertheless — and motored down to meet the rest of the group in front of the entrance.

The only time in my life that I could have called myself a runner — if I have ever had the right to do so — was in the 10th grade, when I joined my school’s cross-country team. This meant dragging myself out of bed at 5:30 am so I could make the 7:00 am practice downtown. I had convinced myself to sacrifice sleep and comfort in the name of health and wellness. This had worked: it was always chilly, even with my lululemons on, and my bones would start to creak after 10 laps, but there was also a freeing feeling after the last home stretch sprint of each practice. It was a certain kind of irreplicable euphoria I’d been chasing ever since.

This is the point in the story at which I must make use of tropes and clichés galore, as the UTrain class ended up being an absolute highlight of my week. I was — unfortunately? happily? — deprived of angst-inducing material, which would no doubt have made for a much better read. The class jogged over to Queen’s Park as a group and did laps around the gravel track, alternating between a more leisurely pace for most of the run and a quicker tempo at the end of each lap. I was not the fastest person there, nor did I have much stamina or technique, but I had a good time as I bounced around on the rocky road.

It was around 9:00 pm when I began walking home. Heading down that familiar path next to the Varsity stadium in my old lululemons, I felt nearly as free as I did years ago. I fully support Team Canada’s choice to partner with lululemon; when the athletes wear their uniforms years after they compete, I hope that they’ll also be hit with the realization that some things never change.