Running, shopping

Listen up lulu!

lululemonThis week I was invited to participate in a lululemon athletica run design meeting.  They gather small groups of runners to talk about what types of features we are looking for in run clothing to collect feedback and new ideas.  I was really excited to be a part of the meeting and was impressed that the company was looking for thoughts straight from their customers.  I invited my friend Kelly Milligan to join me who is also a fan of the product though she admits her husband, Mark, is a better shopper.  How do I find a dude like that?

The meeting was held at Lexington Power Yoga and we were invited to participate in a yoga class before the meeting.  This worked out great for me since I wanted to get another yoga class in this week and I’ve been struggling to practice regularly since Inner Strength was involved with the Main Street Meltdown (that’s getting its own post soon).  The gorgeous studio is in Lexington Center and just opening this past fall.  I highly recommend people in the area to try it out.  They have mostly hot vinyasa classes but also offer warm and unheated classes.  We attended a warm slow flow led by Michelle Brennes which felt amazing.  After taking a look at the studio’s website I also discovered that my friend and former ALF teammate Molly Powers is teaching there as well.  Maybe I will have to make a trip back to catch up with her.

After the class we had some time to relax, change and enjoy a beautiful healthy spread of food courtesy of  lululemon.  We gathered around to introduce ourselves and talk about our running background and some races we were excited for.  It seemed to be a well-rounded group with different goals and needs.  There were several staff members from lululemon Burlington Mall there to take notes and ask lots of questions.  Kate Weiler led the meeting with questions about what we need from our running gear, challenges we have with what is available and what we would like to see in the stores.  A great example of a run design meeting success story is the All Sport Bra with Heart Rate Monitor.  Women shared at one of these meetings that its uncomfortable to wear a HRM strap under a sports bra, so the lululemon designers built it in.  I have this bra and like it but it chafes where the HRM sits so I offered that there is still opportunity for improvement.  Sport bras, light weight running jackets, men’s running shorts and accessories for carrying things like inhalers and pepper spray were all big topics in our meeting.  We were encouraged to bring some of our favorite non-lululemon gear and talk about what we like about those pieces.  It was fun to see what some of the other runners brought and what was important to them.   For the men, it was definitely function but the women were looking for fashion as well.  We got into an interesting discussion about sizing and how it could be intimidating for women looking for larger sizes to shop at lululemon.

I couldn’t stop talking about my need for the perfect running sport bra with the right combo of comfort, support and pretty.  Eventually, I realized it would be a hybrid of the comfortable Nike Pro Sports Bra and the super supportive Moving Comfort Rebound Racer.  I asked the staff to please have the designers create me that bra.  I’m looking forward to seeing it.

My Hybrid Bra.  Make it happen lulu
My Hybrid Bra. Make it happen lulu

The evening was a lot of fun and it was great to see the staff bringing the enthusiasm and great customer service we always see in the stores to a meeting like this.  I find shopping for run gear to be really personal so it’s great to be familiar with the store staff when asking for advice and opinions.  Lululemon products are high quality and attractive but combine that with their excellent customer service, product knowledge and positive atmosphere of the store and it explains why so many people are happy to make the investment in their products.  I have a lot of love for Nike, Brooks and other brands but probably won’t get the same type of personal shopping experience at Dick’s Sporting Goods or City Sports so I am more inclined to visit lululemon.

The Burlington Staff helped me choose a great ensemble for the 2011 Chicago Marathon
The Burlington Staff helped me choose a great ensemble for the 2011 Chicago Marathon

It was a real pleasure sharing my ideas with the staff and it would be exciting to see one of the ideas we talked about showing up in the store someday.  I’ll be sure to let everyone know when my bra request becomes available.  I assume they will call it the Run Like A Girl bra in my honor.

Group Photo!
Group Photo!

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