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Hands-on: RXActive gear uses built-in resistance bands to enhance your workout

Sometimes innovation is as obvious as combining two things that are better used together. NYU medical student Frank Yao, along with Olympic fencer Keeth Smart and physiatrist JR Rizzo developed the RXActive (RXA) resistance clothing line as the answer to compression wear and traditional resistance bands. The company just kicked off an Indiegogo campaign through which you can grab the first of the next generation of resistance wear for $70 and up. The campaign is seeking $30,000.

These days we all multitask, and with RXActive’s flagship shorts on, you can get a little more out of your daily errands — even going grocery shopping can be like an easy day at the gym. Interior panels made up of black resistance banding with specially designed resistance mesh mean these pants make you work harder, which in turns gives the wearer more results out of the same old workout.

Chief Operating Officer Smart said he felt like he’d stalled out using weights and unrestrained cardio. “There was a point in my Olympic training where I was hitting a plateau. My trainer incorporated resistance bands into my routine and I was finally able to maximize my workouts and potential.”

The unique resistance tech included in these pants can increase your calorie burn up to 14 percent over old-school compression wear, and increase muscle activation by 23 percent. We didn’t quantify percentages in our time trying out the shorts, but we did put them through their paces at the gym, on the trail, and on the bike.

At first glance, the RXActive shorts impressed with flat seaming and tight weave on the external fabric. Typically, that would be the entirety of the garment, but when you turn it inside out, the internal resistance wrap becomes abundantly clear — the mesh is white. That was the only real aesthetic mistake; function is the focus, but form is a happy side effect that does not go unnoticed. If you’re paying more than $100 for workout clothes you should like them inside and out – they should look just as good crumpled on the bedroom floor as they do on your body.

Also, the nature of the banding and resistance mesh means these may require a bit more squeezing than usual when you’re pulling them on. Though we always count ourselves lucky to try new products, in this case fit was an issue. We’d like to blame that on limited early availability, but that doesn’t explain the sizing. The women’s size medium seemed built to accommodate someone with a muffin top — the elastic waistband was loose, as well as the calf band on the capris.

We ended up going with a men’s medium in the shorts instead of the capris, which fit well, but begged the question how they would fit a man, considering the differences in anatomy. The final verdict after having a man put them on was they fit well through the thigh but were tight in the crotch. This is a case where the size of the boat matters as much as the motion of the ocean. It’s easiest to compare RXA’s fit to Old Navy’s, where the sizes are larger than the average, thought that may not be an entirely accurate assessment. The women’s medium fit well, but for the waistband; and the men’s medium fit well, but for the crotch.

RXA shorts were designed with running first and foremost in mind. Because of this, they remained comfortable during daily wear, as well as during the seven miles spent jogging through the park wearing them. This was a regular run, and afterward I felt more muscle fatigue than normal.

The next day, we rode the shorts 20 miles on a bike. If you’re a cyclist and you intend to wear these for regular rides or long tours, it’s DT’s suggestion that you wear a padded shorts liner underneath. In our experience, they rubbed under the glutes uncomfortably during extended bike time. The burn, however, was definitely evident. The usual 20 miles felt like 35, especially after running the day before.

By then it was obvious that wearing these on a regular basis will increase effectiveness of workouts and, as with any fitness regimen, the effects will be more evident over time.

Overall, RXActive shorts are supportive and compressive while still kind to the thighs. We also warn that they’re sized for Americans — choose your size carefully, because loose compression wear is not a good look. Once you do find your perfect fit, they can make a positive difference to your training regimen. Keep in mind,

The earlier reference to common compression wear as “old-school” implies that other clothing lines might try to copy this tech. Perhaps it can be imitated, but not duplicated. RXActive intends to expand to shirts and socks, longer pants, and eventually toward the incorporation of electromagnets, so keep watching their website for developments after the Indiegogo campaign. We look forward to a full outfit of RXActive resistance wear.

Aliya Barnwell
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Aliya Tyus-Barnwell is a writer, cyclist and gamer with an interest in technology. Also a fantasy fan, she's had fiction…
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