by Sandy Dover / @San_Dova

In the NBA world, athletes are subject to physical rigors that most laypeople cannot comprehend. For the elite basketball player, his/her body is his/her literal temple and principal livelihood, and while the roughly 400 players in the NBA put their bodies and minds to the test daily and yearly, those outside of that realm (in the so-called real world) also have become just as conscious about their fitness and health. The FIT is a series that will concentrate on the Fuel, Information and Training (F.I.T.) that it takes for both NBAers and laypersons to be at their very best in the world, as well as focusing on the literal Food, Intelligence and Technology that also comes into play in our physical fine-tuning—because after all, without having the vital fuel, guidelines and tech advancements to feed our bodies, help us better absorb and process what’s necessary, and make the labor efficient and effective, we don’t have much to advance our collective health and performance. The FIT is here to bring to light what can make us all the uniquely tuned creatures who we presently are and can continue or aspire to be.

Training for the game of basketball is one of the most physically involved activities a person can do. It requires a lot of physical exertion and mental alertness to gain results, and the body is stressed in unique and challenging ways. In that training, be it strength training, running, or anything else that involves aerobic and anaerobic activity, the last thing you want to be bother with is uncomfortable attire. And if even more, with cross training, having visual cues (like mirrors and/or a trainer) are the guiding lights of your regimen. Fortunately, New Balance has brought forth a new series line to marry both of those solutions in their training apparel, codenamed Align.

What is Align? Per New Balance, Align is a series of workout tops that are designed to:

…Help you work out more effectively, helping you move efficiently and stay comfortable. It’s more than the moisture-wicking and odor-resistant fabric—(the tops) feature unique visual cue overlay tape to help keep you in good form while training, whether you’re into free weights or calisthenics.

Visual cue overlay tape, the contrast vertical and horizontal lines on this training apparel, supplies reference points for checking your muscle alignment; in combination with gym mirrors, these visual cues help you to maintain good form and thereby reduce risk of injury.

Other features of the Align series include New Balance’s Lightning Dry fabric (to wick away moisture), 92-100 percent polyester bodies (depending on the type of top), and logo back neck taping to aid mobility and comfort during activity. Align includes three main tops: the Line Up Long Sleeve, the Line Up Short Sleeve, and the Cool Lines Sleeveless, all of which are semi-fitted, described by New Balance as “a tapered fit with slim construction that’s engineered for performance.”

Over a three-month period, I tested all three Align tops, and by far, they are the best workout shirts I’ve ever worn for training. The knit of the tops are silky smooth against the skin, they have excellent breathability, and have a superior moisture management technology in Lightning Dry that kept me comfortable whether I was weight training, doing sprints, or running on the treadmill. What I also loved in my sessions with the Align wear is the signature guideline tape; the visual cue overlay tape is good for exercises like the upright row (the horizontal stripes across the chest), the military press (the stripes on the sleeved tops) and the bicep curl (the stripes down the sides of the tops), but I found the cue lines to be especially helpful for dips, a favorite exercise of mine for building the triceps and chest. (Also, the Align stripes add additional support to the top, which I appreciated in my testing.)

In addition to the Align evaluations, I also tested New Balance’s Multi-Purpose Short:

A moisture-wicking, breathable combination of knit and mesh, truly lives up to its name. Take it for a spin at your local gym or keep it in your duffel for the basketball game you play with the office crew daily at lunch.

Featuring:

Lightning Dry® fabric wicks away moisture

Side seam pockets for mobile storage

Adjustable drawcord at waist for custom fit

9″ Inseam

Odor resistant

100% Polyester Body

The Multi-Purpose Short provided me great comfort; a great feature of the shorts is that they are lined, which made chafing from any seams a non-factor (!). The Relaxed Fit (defined as “a full fit with multi-function construction that’s engineered for versatility”) made for an easy feel, and the wonderful Lightning Dry fabric kept me dry, particularly in my runs at the gym.

All in all, the New Balance Align series has brought something new and fresh (literally) to present-day athletes that can be appreciated in comfort and better guidance in training. Align is a virtually flawless product and a great addition to the gym bag.

Sandy Dover is a published author, media consultant, and web & print magazine columnist in the world of publishing, while acting as a sports product evaluator and as a wellness & training consultant, advocate, and journalist in the fitness industry (with the two worlds often colliding). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at About Me, Facebook and Twitter.