Academic Probation
After following a rigorous program of consumerist exertion, Laura Bennett can affirm with confidence that she is, in fact, better than you.
Adrienne Shumlich/the Gauntlet

Spending money for "fitness" proves beneficial to ego

Buying overpriced clothing makes you better than other people, new study finds

Publication YearIssue Date 

A group of fitness researchers in Vancouver, British Columbia believe they have uncovered the secret behind the new method of feeling fitter that is now all the rage. The controversial method, dubbed “Lululemon Retail Therapy” by those who remain more skeptical of the routine, has swept across North America like wildfire, proving to be especially popular among the 18–24 year old female demographic.

In short, the “Retail Therapy” workout, or as those who follow the program refer to it, the “buying a cute new set of workout clothes” routine, consists of performing regular sets of shopping trips with at least several repetitions of purchasing items at the Lululemon Athletica boutique or another similar store that is sufficiently expensive for the participant to feel that their hard-earned money is really working to help them with their fitness goals. These sets of shopping trips are then followed by an interlude where the person proceeds to wear their new workout costume in public.

“Ever since I started buying a new cute workout top or set of tight yoga pants every time I went into Lululemon, I’ve felt so much better about the workout routine that I’m totally going to start next week,” says U of C student Laura Bennett, a strong supporter of the Retail Therapy program. “When I wear those clothes around for my everyday life, I know that people are looking at me and thinking, ‘Wow, that girl must be so athletic. I wish I was as motivated as her to be doing physical activity all the time.’ And I smile to myself, because I know that they’re right.”

When asked if any part of her workout routine actually involved sweating in her new clothes, Bennett seemed somewhat confused.

“Sweating? Um, ew, gross. No thank you. It’s, like, September now. Not exactly the height of summer anymore. Plus, I wear antiperspirant.

Molly Fischer, another proponent of Retail Therapy, is eager to remind those who are thinking of getting into the program that they need not be limited to only workout tops and bottoms.

“It’s all about the image of lifestyle you are trying to project to others,” she advises. “I always make a point of carrying around a yoga mat, a specialty aluminum water bottle and a luxury gym handbag in addition to wearing my hoodie, scarf and rain jacket over my basic workout layer. When I take the time to coordinate all of my Lululemon articles like that, it not only shows people that I mean business, but that I’m filthy rich and therefore better than them. It’s not like they need to know that I’m getting my electricity shut off in two days because I maxed out my credit card again.”

Harry Thurston, one of the researchers involved in pinpointing why this fitness routine has become so popular, reports that although there is a clear correlation between taking part in Retail Therapy and an increase in morale, results are inconclusive as to whether the so-called fitness regimen has any impact on the participant’s actual health.

“As far as we can tell, it really seems to be just a bunch of cocky, pretentious college kids playing sinister mind games with each other,” he explained. “You see trends like this throughout the decades. In my day, it was shoulder pads and leg warmers. But unfortunately, all current research indicates that simply wearing clothes does not, in fact, transform you into what the clothes represent. Otherwise Halloween would be an entirely different matter altogether.”

Thurston did, however, add that research into the effects this Lululemon craze has on the male 18–24 year old population is inconclusive, and that more research was needed to determine the full impact of this new trend.

“Yoga pants are definitely an area that have been neglected in study up until now,” Thurston remarked. “We’ll have to delve deeper for sure — probably perform two or three preliminary studies. At least. For starters.”