June 03, 2019 at 01:05PM by CWC
Any fitness instructor worth their headset will give you tons of posture cues during the course of a workout—shoulders back, chest up, spine long. But for me, at least, all those anatomical nuances go out the window when I’m, say, pushing through the last minute of a treadmill sprint or struggling to do just five more push-ups. (Or, you know, just five push-ups total.) This is problematic, however, because my poor form has resulted in some pretty gnarly mid- and lower-back issues over the years.
So when I heard about IFGfit, a new activewear line that promises to correct your posture as you sweat, I immediately sat up a little straighter. Created by orthopedic surgeon Stephen Liu, MD, the brand uses FDA-registered, patented technology to help guide your shoulders, rib cage, and spine into an optimal position—one that allows for deeper breathing and less stress on your back and joints.
So how does it work? According to Dr. Liu, each piece in the women’s collection—sports bras, leggings, and T-shirts—was engineered to draw force to the back of the body. “The posterior elements are the biggest muscles we have,” he explains. “If you can rely on those muscles to work for you, it really opens you up.”
Take the Lisa Posture Bra ($168), for instance—resembling a cap-sleeved crop top, it consists of five different materials, including two types of mesh and inner and outer fabrics with different weave tensions. It gently draws your shoulder blades together and your rib cage back, helping you feel taller and creating a feeling of openness in the front of the body. “A consistent shoulder-blade symmetry can expand the chest so you can breathe,” Dr. Liu explains. “When you can breathe better, you’re going to feel very energetic, less fatigued, and more confident.”
The Luxe Spine Hip Leggings ($128) are crafted with a similar type of posture-correcting horizontal tension. In this case, the high waistband is made from three layers of fabric, also designed to redistribute weight to the back body. “The waistband smooths the abdominal muscles and draws them back,” says Dr. Liu, noting that this postural adjustment reduces pressure on the lower spine.
After hearing all this, I was definitely intrigued—but would these highly technical pieces actually be comfortable to work out in? To find out, I put IFGfit’s Lisa bra and Luxe leggings to the test.
Here’s what happened when I tried posture correcting activewear…
I was expecting the bra and leggings to look kind of medical, but I was surprised by their elevated design and super-soft fabrics. Honestly, if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought they were from Bandier or Carbon38.
Once I put them on, I noticed that both garments were a little tight—particularly around the arm holes of the bra—but Dr. Liu told me that it’s best to order a size down, because they will stretch slightly over time. Instantly, I could tell that I was standing differently. My shoulders, usually rounded forward from working at a computer all day, really did feel like they were rolling back and down. I could also sense that there was much less of a dip in my lower back than usual, thanks to the snug waistband of the leggings.
My first test run was a kickboxing class. I can’t really say that I noticed a difference in my breathing or endurance, as Dr. Liu said I might, but I did feel like my form was a lot better than usual, especially during the high kicks. The bra and leggings kept my body in its ideal position through every punch, dip, and knee drive, and I got the sense that my workout was stronger as a result.
So far, so good. But I really got a sense of what my outfit could do during my second experiment, an upper body strength training workout. I was able to lift slightly more weight than I usually do, mostly because the tension in the back of the bra and the waistband of the leggings kept reminding me to engage my core and back muscles. This is by design, says Dr. Liu. “The mix of different fabrics all awaken your skin, stimulating proprioception,” he says. (Proprioception is an awareness of the way your body is moving.) It was really subtle, but I finished the class without any of the back pain I sometimes experience after working my arms and abs.
If I have one complaint, it’s that the tight bra armholes and leggings waistband were straight-up uncomfortable during certain moves. (Bent-over rows and v-sit, I’m looking at you.) But, as previously mentioned, the fabrics are meant to relax a little with wear, and it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t wait it out. In fact, I now feel positively naked when I work out in anything else—and a whole lot slouchier, too.