THEY have some of the healthiest lifestyles and highest fitness levels in the country, but in one respect our Olympic athletes have it tougher than “normal” folks – clothes shopping.
While their body fat percentage may be enviable, their hours spent at the gym in search of gold medal winning form often leave many female athletes with a body shape that does not conform to the one for which High Street clothes are designed.
Now, lecturers at Manchester Metropolitan University are researching how the bodies of elite athletes differ from ordinary shoppers, with help from the Olympic water polo team, who are currently training at Manchester Aquatics Centre.
Simeon Gill, senior lecturer in Fashion Technology, said: “Observationally, a lot of people who participate in sports tend to wear sports clothing outside of training, because they can’t find normal casual clothing to fit.”
Fran Leighton, the 30 year-old centre forward, agreed. She said: “Jeans are a particular nightmare. They’re either too tight around the thigh or they gape at the waist. If this research means I might actually fit into something then I’m all for it!”
Chloe Wilcox, the 25 year-old left winger for the team, added: “It has been interesting, because when we go shopping we do find that clothes are tight on our shoulders or it is difficult to find the right leg length.”
Jane Ledbury, programme leader for the MSc Fashion portfolio, is working on the projectwith Simeon Gill. She first started looking at the body shapes of extreme athletes for her Masters research.
She said: “I discovered that generally female athletes had significant problems with fit because of the way their bodies were developed.
“Sport is becoming much more popular, and it is the fastest growing market in the fashion industry. We need to address the pattern generation and sizing to accommodate the needs of athletes and create clothing that reflects their dimensions.”
Manchester Metropolitan University is a leading university for the professions and a powerful driver of the North West economy.
The University educates and trains large numbers of the region’s legal and business professionals, scientists, engineers, teachers, health workers and creative professionals. It enjoys an excellent reputation for teaching and applied research and is a recognised innovator in partnership working with its local communities. The University is currently investing almost £300 million in its estate and facilities.
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