Runners in Ann Arbor are blessed with many choices. Great routes, trails, parks, and paths are all at the runner’s disposal. We also have strong clubs, training groups, competitive teams and shops that help us succeed: P.R. Fitness, the Ann Arbor Track Club, Tortoise & Hare and Elite Feet Brighton to carry the essential gear and Bivouac to keep us running on the trails. I’ve spoken many times about how my involvement with P.R. Fitness has given me the motivation and encouragement I need while allowing me to make great, lasting friendships along the way.
For me, it would be hard to meet my goals without support. If I had only the internet to get my gear and every run was alone on a country road…I would take up something else. Sometimes it is the friendships or the “gang” that gets you out of bed and on the road…and a gang needs a great hangout. P.R. Fitness is lucky to have one of the best in town, the lululemon athletica Ann Arbor showroom.
“Lulu’s” is tucked away on the third floor at the corner of William and State in Ann Arbor. With a non-descript door just past Jimmy John’s on William, you might miss the small wordless sign they have and not even know it is there. Just as an example, a co-worker of mine didn’t even know Ann Arbor had a lulu showroom, nearly a year after it had opened….and she is a yoga instructor (…and lululemon is essentially THE place for yoga gear across North America - she was astonished, and now her wallet is probably a little emptier).
Marie made an early connection with the crew at lululemon and it has developed into an important partnership. The showroom serves as a base of operations for the group’s Saturday long run, and the lulu team is always willing to come in and open up early, watch our stuff for us while we are out and let us mess up the place with our wet sloppy clothes and shoes in winter and the hot sweaty stuff in summer. We are always able to access the restrooms, get water or snacks and take a load off on the couch. The place is as much a lounge as it is a shop. They also have free yoga sessions and activities as part of an extensive community outreach program. We even have a P.R. Fitness chalkboard “wall” at the shop where everyone jots down their goals and races so we can keep each other motivated.
Just two weeks ago I was the last one back after our long run (I am running a marathon in July, while most of the other runners did a spring race…meaning that I am one of the few runners doing 20 mile long runs this month). When I got back, Katie (the manager) presented me with an opportunity to pick out anything in the store and test it out. Given that lulu stuff is premium, it doesn’t exactly come cheap, so this really floored me.
I chose a grey Metal Tech Vent shirt (shown in these stock photos from lululemon…though I wish that was me in the photos…I mean, look at this guy). Designed from the ground up for breathability, flexibility and comfort, it is a quantum leap in athletic wear in my mind. I have a lot of great running shirts, but the texture and feel of this shirt is really unusual. It is paper thin, but strong and durable. It is soft and breathable, but it really holds its shape and gives a flattering cut. It has a great old-school heather grey look to it with some modern touches. A small red thread detail on the shoulder, the techy vents in the back and the shape bring it into the 21st century. It even has a silver compound woven into the fabric, which stops the shirt from taking on any odor after a hard workout.
I can’t say enough positive things about the shirt, and would have the same things to say if I had paid for the shirt myself. In fact, I bought one in an alternate color. That brings up the only drawback, price. The shirt retails for $64. That is a bit expensive, but this is no ordinary shirt and will last twice as long and you’ll wear it twice as much as anything else in your closet, no lie. So far I have worn mine to two separate summer dinner get-togethers, a hard tempo run, the gym, around the house, to the park with Leo, out shopping, to the July 4 parade and to bed. It can do it all.
So do me a favor and stop by the lululemon athletica showroom at 623 East William in Ann Arbor. Take a look around and see for yourself what a great place it is and meet the great group of people that run the shop. You won’t be disappointed.