Cyclists often find it difficult reaching that state of tranquility, before a serious sportive event, or race.
However, thanks to a new far-flung hoodie, called the Vollebak Baker Miller Pink Hoodie, cyclists can apparently get away from it all, by simply zipping up into this cocoon like hoodie – and staking out some calm.
According to its London-based creators, Steve and Nick Tidball, the Vollebak Hoodie, is intended to help cyclists (or any athlete for that matter), prepare for endurance events and races. To wit: “it’s built for the high-pressure waiting periods in adventure sports, competition and high endurance expeditions”.
Accordingly, when the pink hoodie is zippered-up it serves to opaque the athlete’s vision, using a crucial shade of pink, which is intended to induce “mind hack”, while also reducing the athlete’s heart rate. Meanwhile, the “mesh visor” is engineered to slow a athlete’s breathing” by reducing oxygen intake. And, while the athlete is able to see out, the mesh visor prevents the world from seeing in.
The design-duo referred to a series of experiments conducted by Alexander Schauss, a Director of Life Sciences at the American Institute of Biosocial Research, between 1979 and 1987, which “demonstrated how just 15 minutes exposure to a color named Baker Miller Pink could suppress violent and aggressive behavior in prisoners and delinquents”.
“Replicating the exact color of the original tests, the Baker Miller Pink Hoodie is built for the high-pressure waiting periods in adventure sports and competition, when the ability to relax can be key to success or survival.”
Additionally, the VolleBak Hoodie also comes with a soundtrack of pink noise, which claims to be able to put the listener into a “meditative state”, while regulating the brainwaves.
Beam, I mean zip, me up Scotty!
Between 1979 and 1987, a series of psychological experiments demonstrated how just 15 minutes exposure to a colour named Baker Miller Pink could suppress violent and aggressive behaviour in prisoners and delinquents, calming their minds and tranquilizing their muscles.
Replicating the exact colour of the original tests, the Baker Miller Pink Hoodie is built for the high-pressure waiting periods in adventure sports and expeditions, when the ability to relax can be key to success or survival.
Fusing colour theory and physiology, the hoodie enhances your parasympathetic nervous system’s ability to help you rest and recover before and after sport. It floods your entire field of vision with pink to reduce your heart rate. A mesh visor is engineered to slow your breathing. Deep Sling Pockets lower your oxygen consumption. And it comes with its own soundtrack composed from elements of pink noise to regulate your brainwaves.
The hoodie also performs like a second skin to help you relax in the harshest environments, combining deep cushioning, water resistance and thermal insulation.
THE DISCOVERY OF P618
Being thrown into a 1980s jail cell with every single surface painted pink may have felt like a government-funded acid trip, but the results were unarguable.
From prisoners to military personnel, the outcome was the same. Just 15 minutes spent surrounded by this colour was enough to suppress all angry, antagonistic and anxiety-ridden behaviour. After six minutes all traces of violent behaviour were gone, regardless of how aggressive they’d been.
After nine minutes, inmates would either assume a relaxed sitting position, or be found lying on their backs looking at the pink ceiling. And by ten minutes, they were all calm enough to return to their own rooms. With the effects lasting for another thirty minutes after leaving the cell, they may as well have been shot with a tranquilizer gun.
The man behind the experiments was Alexander Schauss, a Director of Life Sciences at the American Institute of Biosocial Research in Washington. His field of work was the effect of colour on emotion. Knowing that people’s colour preferences changed as their physiological and psychological states changed, Schauss wanted to see if the reverse might also be true: could colours themselves trigger profound and measurable responses in how people felt and behaved?
In early tests he found that looking at single colours had a remarkably fast and calming effect. After carrying out experiments on himself, he discovered that following intense physical exercise simply staring at a piece of card printed with the colour pink could lower his heart rate and respiration faster than anything else. The closer his eyes were to the colour, the more effective it was.
He continued to experiment with hundreds of shades of pink until he found the one that had the most profound effect. He called it P618.
The colour was essentially a mind hack. It forced every inmate’s brain into a calm and meditative state whether they wanted to be in one or not. And it did it by reducing their heart rate at rapid speed.
In their heightened state of stress, anger, fear or anxiety they would have been in full fight-or-flight mode before entering the pink cell. Their body would have been releasing a stream of adrenaline and noradrenaline making them hyper alert, and ready to dismantle their room with their hands and teeth. These same hormones would have been pushing up their blood pressure, breathing, sweating and critically, their heart rate.
Unless they knew how to control it, as their heart started racing, their breathing would get faster and shallower, stripping carbon dioxide from their blood and increasing any feelings of fear and anxiety. The more they tensed up and harder they breathed, the more oxygen their muscles, tissues and organs would use, and the higher their heart rate would go to try and keep their levels stable.
But when Schauss convinced Ron Miller and Gene Baker to paint a US naval confinement cell pink, he suddenly gave every inmate’s mind and body the chance to fight back. By enveloping them in a colour that reduced their heart rate and breathing, Schauss flicked a switch, redirecting control from one half of their central nervous system to the other.
The sympathetic nervous system, which helps you fight bears, was suddenly replaced by the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you rest. It also lowers your heart rate, slows your breathing and limits the release of stress hormones. Simply by surrounding their field of vision with the colour pink, Schauss gave this second system the upper hand, and let the detainees climb off their merry-go-round of shit.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
Next to the energy bars and spare kit in every pre-race hotel room and base camp across the world, you’ll find this same battle for control between the two branches of the central nervous system.
Your body responds to the fear, excitement and stress of what’s ahead by flicking that same switch. You might want your parasympathetic nervous system to be in charge so you can relax, but before any physical exertion your anticipatory response kicks in and your sympathetic nervous system takes over. Your heart rate climbs. Your breathing gets faster. You feel hyper alert. Your body starts burning energy and oxygen. And your own merry-go-round starts turning.
Thousands of years ago, when man was still on the menu for some animals, this response was life-enhancing. But when it kicks in the night before an attempt on a summit, or in the week-long build up to 10 hours of flat-out racing, it means your body is consuming energy at the exact point you want to be conserving it.
While it can feel almost impossible to stop your brain and heart racing before you put your mind and body on the line, yogis and Buddhist monks have shown that you can consciously alter processes like heart rate and oxygen consumption. By dropping them lower than when they’re asleep or hypnotised, they’ve shown that the parasympathetic nervous system can be activated at will.
With its ability to transform your performance and recovery by helping you conserve energy, the parasympathetic nervous system is one of the most powerful performance enhancers you have access to, and it’s simply lying around waiting to be used. You can activate it on command. And unlike a muscle or ligament it requires almost no training to do its job. So the hoodie focuses on a part of the body few athletes have ever trained, and one that possibly has the largest potential performance gains of all.
ZIP UP AND LIE DOWN
Fusing colour theory and physiology, this is the first piece of clothing ever created to support your parasympathetic nervous system. By flooding your entire field of vision with the same colour as the inmates experienced thirty years ago it enhances any athlete’s ability to relax whenever they need to. All you have to do is put it on and zip it up. Wearing it for 15 minutes is enough to stop your heart rate and breathing spiralling upwards, and slow them back down.
The visor is made from a breathable mesh that allows you to see out, but no-one to see in. So if you want to boil some food on your stove, or set up in transition at 6am, you still can, and the top will still do its job. But to get into the most effective, energy-conserving and recuperative state, you need to control your breathing, your oxygen usage, and your heart rate as well. And this means lying down.
The closer you are to horizontal, the less work your heart has to do, and the easier it is for your parasympathetic nervous system to take control. With your heart rate higher standing than sitting, and higher sitting than lying down, the ideal position is on your back with your feet raised. If you look like someone who’s been carried into the medical tent, this is perfect.
WHY YOU SHOULD BREATHE LESS
Next you focus on your breathing. To have your parasympathetic nervous system regain control, you need to take fewer than ten breaths a minute, which means breathing in and out once every six seconds. The slower you breathe, the quicker you’ll stabilize the carbon dioxide in your blood and reduce the concentration of stress hormones in your body that were pushing your heart rate up.
At the same time you need to try and use as little energy as possible. The less you use, the more oxygenated your blood will be, and the lower your heart rate can stay. If you tense up, your oxygen consumption goes up, and your heart has to start beating faster. If someone comes to check how long you’ve been dead for, you’re doing a good job of doing nothing.
Even the way you breathe has an impact on how much energy you use, which is why the visor encourages you to breathe through your nose not your mouth. You want your stomach to move in and out when you breathe, not your chest, and breathing through your nose makes this easier. This kind of diaphragmatic breathing is simply more energy efficient. It fills the larger, lower parts of your lungs, and doesn’t involve lifting 24 ribs up and down every few seconds.
Two deep Sling Pockets either side of the central zip help you check you’re using your diaphragm to breathe, not your chest. Sliding your hands into these pockets positions your forearms over the base of your stomach so you can feel it rising and falling with each breath.
Engineered exactly like a sling for a broken arm, the two Sling Pockets also help you minimise movement when you’re conserving energy, or make you as comfortable as possible when you’re on the plane home too wasted to even lift your miniature knife and fork.
BUILT FOR THE INEVITABLE
It’s impossible to relax if you’re cold or shivering. So the Baker Miller Pink Hoodie is made from a thermally insulated, deeply cushioned soft shell. Whether you’ve spent too long in the ocean, cold air is being pumped into your plane, or you’ve woken up frozen at first light, encasing yourself in the hoodie will keep you warm.
And whilst it’s specifically designed to be worn before and after sport, it’s inevitable someone will attempt the most relaxed descent in history wearing it. So it comes with high-performance capabilities. The base material is breathable, highly elastic, water resistant, and dirt repellent – useful when your top is pink. The neoprene zips are all waterproof. And the visor gives you about 70% visibility, which means a high-speed run will be great, until you’re hospitalised by a tree at sunset.
THE POWER OF PINK NOISE
Constructed almost entirely from elements of pink noise, the soundtrack induces a meditative state in your brain by regulating and slowing down your brainwaves. Containing every frequency the human ear is capable of hearing, you find pink noise in crashing waves, wind blowing through the trees, and rain hitting the ground.
Used together they are designed to help you achieve a natural state of relaxation before and after sport.
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