The Sports Bra That Keeps You Motivated

Photo: Courtesy of KeepBeat.
By Emma Paling Is there a single thing about sports bras that isn’t completely annoying? From awkwardly stretching it over your ponytail to trying to keep your phone in there to finally peeling it off without suffocating yourself, it almost seems like the sports bra was invented to make workouts worse. But, thanks to one British design student, the days of despising your workout gear may soon be over. She’s created what can only be described as the perfect sports bra; it aims to make running easier and more fun (for casual joggers and professional athletes alike) by matching your music to your heart rate. As a fashion school graduate and one of only three students at Northumbria University’s brand new Performance Product Design program, Victoria Sowerby created the Keep Beat bra. It has a back pocket for your smartphone, special conductive fabric that monitors your heart rate, and technology that adjusts your music to let you know if you’re pushing yourself too hard or not hard enough. The whole thing is made with high-performance fabrics that won’t trap sweat or bacteria. Set your target heart rate through its proprietary app, and Keep Beat speeds up your music if your heart is pumping too fast, and slows the music down if you’re not working hard enough. When Beyoncé starts to sound more like Barry White, you’re going too slow. If her voice speeds up so much she sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks? You’re going too fast. Through these cues, Keep Beat lets you adjust your pace and stay on target without fiddling with your phone or any other gadget. And, since you have to listen to music to make the heart monitor work, you’ll actually get more out of your workout — Sowerby’s own research showed that listening to music while exercising increased motivation by 15%. Sowerby was inspired by performance runners in Newcastle, since they always seemed obsessed with checking their heart rates. “They always need to know where it’s at, because if they push themselves too hard in the beginning, they’ll tire themselves out when they’re running long-distance,” she says. There are plenty of other gadgets that measure heart rate, but these athletes told Sowerby that even glancing down at a watch or bracelet kept them from really getting in the running zone. When designing the bra, Sowerby also considered her own workout gripes: “I wanted to make the whole experience where all your stats are within the app, but it also gives you somewhere to put your phone. When I ran with mine in my pocket, it would bounce up and down, and I don’t like armbands because they can rub a bit or throw your balance off,” she says. The pocket on the back of the Keep Beat bra is placed perfectly between your shoulder blades, to keep your device secure and out of the way. Ideally, Sowerby says, users will pair the product with wireless headphones (instead of the kind that too often get yanked out of your ears by accident). The final bonus? Sowerby’s background in fashion means the bra is made with high-performance fabrics and has stylish, printed side panels. “I did my B.A. in prints, so it had to have a print!” she told us. Clearly, she’s as concerned with function as she is with fashion — the polka dot print is reminiscent of city lights, and it's reflective, to make nighttime running safer. Currently, Sowerby’s design is just a prototype. She hopes to make the Keep Beat bra available for the masses and is in early talks with more than one major athletics company. So, the next time you’re fiddling with a sports bra that causes more problems than it solves, take comfort in knowing there soon might be one that changes all that. We’ll be first in line when it happens.

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