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Stretching the Limits of the Commuter Shirt with a Strength Session

The Commuter Shirt. It’s comfortable, it’s versatile and it’s everything but your average dress shirt. It was made to move with you and designed with the same technologies that we utilized to create our best-in-class workout gear. Think of it as the classier, more esteemed brother of your Reign and Swift tees and tanks. And yes, in a pinch, it’ll hold up through even the most brutal workouts (it’s been marathon tested after all). To test out the breathability, flexibility, versatility, and comfort of the Commuter Shirt in a different arena, we enlisted the help of Rhone Ambassador Tracy Farr. From a morning workout to a morning commute to a day in the office to a commute home and playing the role of dad to his daughters, how far can Tracy stretch the limits in the Commuter? Let’s find out.


I remember hearing about the branding of Rhone’s Commuter shirt and thinking it would absolutely be “for me,” because I was by every definition, “a commuter.”  For more than a decade now, I’ve spent more time than I would ever want to calculate sitting on a train commuting in and out of Manhattan. Most of that time, for family reasons, we’ve lived in Connecticut. That means about an hour on the train each way, with a healthy walk or subway ride often involved. 

For context, I began my career in consulting and quickly ended up in investment banking where I’ve been for nearly 10 years. That’s meant I’m often wrapping up final emails or trying to recollect myself before getting home to the family during my commute before or after some very long days. For many years, the job involved a lot of travel, transforming that local commute into a flight, car rentals and hotels. It also meant packing multiple different pieces of gear to ensure I was appropriately dressed for whatever activities the travel involved.

All that to say, after years of being in a variety of dress shirts, it’s easy to categorize the Commuter Shirt as the most comfortable version of a shirt which is acceptable for the average dress code getting you in and out of the office each day. A few years into the pandemic, and now arguably a year into renewed in-person and “hybrid” policies at work, I’d argue that the term “commuting” has taken on a completely different meaning for me; and frankly, the Commuter Shirt delivers an entirely different value to me now.

Let’s contrast my workday before COVID and after, as it is now.

Before COVID, the schedule was relatively predictable. I went to the gym in the morning, then to the office for most of the day, then it was time to head home and try to sign off. It was a much more constant and fixed schedule. For me, the pandemic changed all that. During the pandemic, we became very accustomed to virtual meetings, and since everyone was at home, those meetings could happen almost at anytime doing the day and from anywhere. I was running errands in the middle of the day since work meetings were no longer confined to a standard time and would often bleed into traditional personal time. In short, everything got mixed up. And I think a lot of us experienced that, and are still experiencing that.

Now, my schedule seems to be different every day. At my office, we adopted a hybrid work policy. We are in the office three days a week and work remotely the remainder. That’s meant a continuation of those blurred lines around when meetings often happen; or further, how they happen, whether in person or by video. Some days I have meetings before I go to the gym, while some days I’m able to hit the gym first thing. But in reality, most days I have no idea what’s going to happen. If I still want to get in all the things I used to into my day, I can’t expect it to be nicely partitioned. The gym may need to be late morning or mid-afternoon. Errands will be squeezed in amongst a host of client meetings. Homework support and daddy-daughter check-ins (three daughters) happen with video meetings yet to happen later that night. I’m home more often and it allows me to be more involved with walking and playing with the dogs or running my girls to dance lessons and gymnastics.

All of that means that it is increasingly hard to have my nicely partitioned outfits. I used to get changed when I got home because the workday involving me being presentable was over, and family time was beginning. But it’s all mixed up together now. I need something that is able to handle life as it comes. I need something that can handle a confused and unpredictable schedule. Enter: the Commuter Shirt.

For me, “commuting” used to be define as going to and from the office. But now, I commute from one part of my life to another, and it happens multiple times a day. I commute from fitness life to office life, from dad life to social life, and from community service life to married life. And, as you’re probably catching on, those commutes are unpredictable and never on schedule.  With each minor “commute,” I need my gear and outfit to be able to keep up, show up and look the part.

With the Commuter Shirt, comes the confidence that I’ll be ready for anything. It brings a level of professionalism for the office, stays fresh and unwrinkled when stuffed in a bag longer than I expected and has breathable for any and all types of travel. Perhaps best of all, the Commuter Shirt doesn’t restrict me whether I’m wrestling my dogs or cuddling with my daughters after a long day. It’s stretchy enough to keep up with my active lifestyle and soft enough for my daughters to fall asleep in my arms at night. I’m truly able to stretch my limits in all facets and know I have a shirt that keeps up.

And speaking of stretching one’s limits, you may have heard that Rhone’s CEO, Nate Checketts recently ran the London Marathon in the Commuter Shirt. Well, I had told Nate that if he did in fact run the race wearing it, that I would do a full weight lifting session in my Commuter gear.  Well, lesson learned… don’t bet against Nate Checketts.

For, the past few years I’ve been on a new fitness journey (arguably my first one) after a stressful period of work led me to realize I needed something to help with not only my physical health, but mental health as well. Having never been a gym guy at all and having not really played sports much past the first year or two of high school, the gym was a foreign environment to me. I was 34 years old, 5’11” and maybe 150 lbs without much strength. Pretty sure I got stuck under a barbell trying to bench 115 lbs and I’d never even attempted a squat or deadlift.  Over the past 5 years, I’ve gained 50-60 lbs and now lift 5-6 times a week religiously.

Given the extreme changes my body has gone through, I’ve cycled through pants and shirts at a rapid pace. Now, even at a more stable, likely normalized weight, having more muscle can mean that if I want to wear something that fits nicely, it better be able to stretch. Walking up a few flights of stairs, running for a train, or carrying something heavy (even briefly) can cause muscles to pump up a bit and your clothes need to be able to stretch a bit more. The alternative is to buy clothes that most of the time are just pretty baggy and not fitting well. Fortunately, with Rhone, I didn’t have to settle on that alternative.

The challenge with Nate allowed me to see how far I could stretch the limits of the Commuter line at Rhone, while also having a pretty hilarious social experience. It’s one thing to run past a bunch of strangers in a dress shirt you likely won’t see again. But to go into my normal gym and push through a rigorous workout in a full-on business casual get up, that was truly a sight to see.

Let’s run through the gear lineup. I was wearing Commuter Pants (Slim), a Commuter Shirt (Slim) and Commuter Socks. A pair of dress shoes and belt (formal, not lifting) were in play too. With the goal of really stretching the Commuter gear to its absolute limit, I came up with a fun full-body workout. I did my best to condense a typical 3 day split working chest and triceps, back and biceps, legs and shoulders into a single 75-minute full body session.

Here’s the breakdown:

The Commuter Lifting Session

Chest / Triceps
  • Flat Bench: 3 Sets - 135# x 20 reps | 225# x 8 reps | 315# x 3 reps

    • Between sets: Reverse cable flys and handless cable tricep extensions (light – <20 lbs)

  • Decline Bench: 2 Sets - 315# x 7 reps | 365# x 3 reps

    • Between sets: Cable flys @ 30-45 lbs

  • Overhead Dumbbell Pullovers on flat bench: 2 sets – 110 lbs dumbbell x 7-10 reps

  • Bodyweight Dips: 2 Sets – 10-15 reps

    • Between sets: Pushups 20-25 reps

Back / Biceps
  • Deadlifts: 5 sets

    • Deficits: 225# x 10 reps | 315# x 8 reps | 405# x 5 reps

    • Standard: 405# x 10 reps | 495# x 3 reset reps

  • Cable Rows: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

  • Dumbbell Curls: 2 sets - 50# x 10 reps each arm

  • Pull Ups: 2 sets of 12 reps

Legs / Shoulders
  • Squats: 4 Sets

    • 225# Standard Squat x 10 reps

    • 225# Paused Pulse Reps (pause at bottom, up half way and pause, back down and pause and then back to standing) x 3-5reps

    • 2 sets: 315# Pause Squats (5-10 second pause) x 2-3 reps

  • Dumbbell Reverse Lunges: 2 Sets - 50# Dumbbells x 10 reps (each leg)

  • Barbell Overhead Press: 2 Sets - 95# x 10 reps | 145# x 5 reps

Core
  • Decline Bench Overhead Press Weighted Sit-ups with Russian Twist (hold 45# plate)


So how did everything hold up? Amazing.

Not one tear, no lost buttons, or signs of abrasion.

No loose threads and the seams all held up.

Structurally and from a stretch perspective, I’d be lying if I said I expected both the shirt and pants to survive the strength test. Particularly impressive to me was the deadlifts. I let that barbell press on my shins and legs pretty tight, so I expected the barbell to really wear down the pants and leave some marks. Nothing. Even the chalk I was using just brushed off and you couldn’t see it.

Fun side note – several onlookers also didn’t believe the pants or shirt would hold up and not rip. I heard people even betting on me ripping a hole in the pants on a deep squat… while I was squatting. Not awkward at all, people. Thanks.


TLDR

Three Observations During the Commuter Strength Test

1. Shockingly Comfortable

If you’ve ever worn the commuter shirt, you know how soft it is. But I really thought I would overheat or just feel uncomfortable in the outfit during the workout. While I’ll be sticking to my Reign Tech tops, Mako and Swift shorts for my workouts for the foreseeable future, frankly I was impressed with how comfortable I felt the whole time. On this same point, I was impressed with the fact that I really didn’t feel restricted in any movements during the workout. The amount of stretch in the Commuter shirt and Commuter pants is just unreal. I tested out a pause in a deep heavy squat, and even there, the limits weren’t met. Maybe they have no limits? I honestly don’t know…

2. Lasting Appearance and Sweat Management

I posted a highlight reel on my social media and the most common comment I got back was, “Where is all the sweat?, “How is that shirt not soaked?,” “Aren’t you dying?”. This one I have no answer for. I wasn’t wearing an undershirt specifically because I wanted to see how it would handle sweat during a 75 minute, fast paced lifting session. In all of the content I took during that session, some extremely minor signs of sweat are shown. Frankly, less than your average person walking around New York City in the summer. I don’t know what miracle fabric this is (technically I do, it’s four-way stretch Italian milled fabric with GOLDFUSION anti-odor technology, but it’s still a miracle) and what it does with the sweat, but I don’t need to know. It just worked. And the entire time, I actually was able to look reasonably professional; certainly enough that everyone was questioning what I was doing.

3. Recovery

I didn’t plan this, but I had to run to a meeting with the CEO of a client in shortly after my lifting session. I planned the session mid-afternoon (hoping for an empty gym to save face), but my schedule got tighter than expected. I washed my face and hands and literally went straight to the meeting. In the 15 minutes I had between ending the session and starting the meeting, my shirt had dried with no stains, no wrinkles and I wasn’t overheating. These clothes recover faster than my muscles do post-workout. Science needs to explain this.


We had just a few more questions for Tracy about the versatility and breathability of the Commuter Short:

After all of the hustle it takes to get to your office, how does the Commuter Shirt hold up?

TF: This is what impresses me. I can stuff the shirt in a bag (moderately folded) for the gym, wear the shirt while running for a train in the summer heat, grab a ride on the Metro North Trains commuting in, maybe a subway ride or two, and when I get to the office, the shirt is dry, looks great and it’s breathability allows me to cool down faster than a traditional shirt. What’s really nuts is that if do a second workout that day, the commuter shirt gets put back in the bag (likely next to some sweaty gym clothes from the morning in a plastic bag), and comes back out either when I get home or before I get back on the train. Through all of that, I’m never worried about sweat, wrinkles, or the shirt not fitting because I’m “pumped up” post workout.

Can you speak to the versatility of the Commuter? In our opinion, you can dress it up for work or dress it down for date night!   

TF: 100%. It works for casual errands, the office and your social life. For casual or business casual, it’s a 10.


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