This was not a post I planned on writing, but it had to be written. You see, when the above photo was innocently shared on social media last week, it sparked a conversation that, quite surprisingly, I had never seen publicly addressed. The subject was something I’ve personally spoken about many times, but had no idea how many others were on the same page. Again, my Calisthenics Brothers and Sisters, it’s proven time after time just how much we have in common in this path of fitness and life.
The comment that initiated the conversation was made by Karen Lee, the wife of Jason Lee, PCC Instructor. This is what she said:
Good call, Karen! Here it is.
A few months ago I wrote an article for Bodybuilding.com in which I described what has become known as the Calisthenics Body: a male physique that is strong and broad in the shoulders, wide in the lats and shredded in the abdomen. I detailed how, despite the high amount of lean muscle mass of this streamlined human machine, he remains narrow in the waist, though muscular in the legs. Simply put, calisthenics staples such as bar work, push-ups, pistol squats and levers, along with a clean diet, result in a very distinct body type. (For more read the entire article here.)
Most commercial clothing sold in America is not tailored to fit the Calisthenics Body. Rather, it’s mass-produced for the “Wal-Mart Male”. Whereas the PCC male hits the pull-up bar a few times a week, many Americans hit the bar at TGIFriday’s for an oversized drink and nachos platter instead. For the record, any food consumed that we do not metabolize for fuel will be stored as body fat, not only harming your pull-up game, but increasing your waistline. Besides poor eating habits, many people choose to be sedentary whenever possible. Unlike the Progressive Calisthenics enthusiast, the average American drives when he can walk, sits when he can stand and makes excuses when he can train. This lack of activity actually lowers the metabolism, which further increases body fat (not to mention estrogen) in the Wal-Mart Male. It’s a downward spiral from there. Hence the “ginormous waist” to which Mrs. Lee refers, which comes standard-issue on most pants.
Since the target demographic of major clothing manufacturers doesn’t exercise, the pants-with-the-oversized-waist are often complemented by wide-bellied jackets with pint-sized shoulders. This is why you have to buy a jacket two sizes too big and get the mid-section drastically taken in if you do push-ups, pull-ups and dips with any regularity at all. Sad but true.
It is not only the suits affected by this madness. Jeans, drawers, shirts and shorts are all manufactured with the ample-bodied desk jockey in mind. Even athletic apparel is tailor made to fit the physique of the overweight! That’s right. It’s hard to get a pair of workout pants with a leg-to-waist ratio that resembles that of anyone who actually works out! Ironic, don’tcha think?
The fact that most clothing companies cater to the average, overweight consumer really shouldn’t come as shock to anyone. After all, that’s the target of almost every commercial product there is, from cars to televisions, mobile devices to appliances, and obviously food products and supplements. The industry changed to “suit” the needs of the typical consumer. Again, not surprising.
But what I do find surprising is that sizes themselves have changed. By this, I am not referring to the fact that “Medium” or “Large” are bigger than they were years ago (as is the case with both clothes and food portions). What I am speaking about is that a lot of clothing labeled “32-inch” waist actually has a waist that’s bigger than 32 inches. Be it slacks, jeans or boxers, the printed measurement is not always the actual measurement! How can this be, you ask? It’s easy. We are being lied to. In order to keep the Wal-Mart Male happy, his corporate masters will tell him anything… even that a 35” waist is a 32”.
So what can we do? Well for starters, if you find a particular brand that fits your physique, then stick with it. Every company measures things a little differently. See which, if any, work for you. Apart from that, always make it a point to try things on. Allow extra time. Even different clothing made by the same manufacturer will have disparities in sizing. You never know how anything will realistically lay out until you experience it firsthand. That statement holds true for clothing and just about everything else life. Good luck and let me know how it works out.
Oh yeah, one more thing… make friends with a tailor!
Keep the dream alive,
Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s most established and respected personal trainers. He is a Master Instructor of Progressive Calisthenics and the author of Everybody Needs Training: Proven Success Secrets for the Professional Fitness Trainer. A true in-person experience, Danny is known globally as a motivator and leader in the body-weight community. Learn more about Danny at: www.DannyTheTrainer.com.