Activewear – at least the elite brands – can end up really costing you. But what has your lululemon and Under Armour gear done for you lately? While athletic apparel can make your workouts more comfortable and stylish, it may not help you become a better athlete. Until now, that is.

Force is a Boston startup that’s putting the active back in activewear. Derek Anderson, Force’s Founder, told me all about how his clothing – which features resistance bands integrated into lightweight fabrics – is going to push workout efficiency further.

“People pay a lot for stuff that makes them look toner,” Anderson said. “But why can’t there be apparel that actually makes you toner?”

For the love of training

According to Anderson, he has no idea how he came to think up Force’s lines of Resistance Shirts and Pants. However, all of his personal experience of pushing himself in training somehow made the concept pop into his head one day.

“As a kid, I grew up in a household that was big on athletics,” Anderson started to explain. “My dad was a sports fanatic, and I had two brothers. But I was never any good as a child.”

“We only have so many hours in the day to workout, so how can I make the most out of them?”

“When I got to high school, I started training and I finally began to get better and stronger,” he continued. “I ended up with a college scholarship for track and field at Northeastern, and I was a two-time All-American there.”

After spending so much time in the training trenches, Anderson became fascinated with finding ways to work out more effectively and efficiently.

Derek Anderson, Force Founder and Northeastern alumnus.

“I learned that I loved training,” Anderson told me. “There are so many different aspects to it, but one of the biggest focuses for me has always been putting in a lot effort and not always having it translate into making you better.”

“So I began to wonder how I could make this process more efficient,” he added. “We only have so many hours in the day to workout, so how can I make the most out of them?”

Resistance rather than weight

There have been attempts to make training activities more strenuous in the past. But aside from being antiquated, previous methods normally entail strapping weights onto the body.

Consequently, these often just make you feel lighter once you take the gear off – not necessarily like a better athlete. And in some cases, weighted components can cause your body to overcompensate and put you at risk of injury.

Taking all of this into account, Anderson turned to another effective training aid: resistance.

“I’ve used resistance bands a lot in my training,” he elaborated. “Many people do. I thought, ‘Why can’t these be integrated into clothing?’ Then we could make it so that they resist your natural biomechanics.”

Force’s Resistance Shirts and Pants are designed with resistance bands that trace the contours of your skeleton, evenly spreading 28 pounds of total resistance across your body. As you workout, Force apparel will engage your muscles from all over as your body goes through different motions. Ultimately, it will increase your physical output, boost calorie burning and help you safely gain strength.

Picking up the pace

It’s taken some time for Force to perfect its product. Anderson explained that in the beginning, making this activewear a reality wasn’t easy.

“In our first attempts, pieces were snapping everywhere,” he said. “It was a mess. But we kept working at it.”

With a viable product completed, everything seems to be falling into place for Force. The startup recently secured gap funding from IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator. Anderson also told me that the company is excited to be having researchers at Mass General Hospital measuring the exact improvements that Force’s products make on an individual’s athletic performance.

And once Force’s seed round fundraising is complete, the startup plans to bring its apparel to market with not one, but two types of gear. Force will be releasing its sports-specific line for people who are serious about training, as well as a line of everyday gear that people could wear under their work clothes. The latter won’t subject people to super intense resistance, of course.

Images via Derek Anderson. Photo credit Andrew Seraphin.