War paint – My wanderings on how what you wear can affect how you perform




Celtic warriors

Since the caveman (and we know how much we look to them in CrossFit 🙂 ) men have painted themselves before going into a battle or off to hunt.

The Celts( male and female warriors) used blue woad to paint across their face and semi naked bodies along with spiking their hair to give them a more fearsome appearance and freak out the Greeks and Romans.






The Polynesian people native to New Zealand, the Maori, took it one step further, by tattooing  symbols permanently on their faces and bodies.

In North America, the Native American people used war paint too on their faces and bodies along with those distinctive feather headdresses that we associate with Native American dress.


So religion and visual impact (scare the bejesus out of your opponents) play a role in the why along with in some cases distraction or camouflage.


Celtic Warrior Etain


I also believe the act of painting or dressing a certain way has a psychological impact in preparing for something that otherwise will intimidate and scare you. The preparation is key going into battle and the ritual of painting your face or donning the right armour gets you ready and focussed.


Its almost like a ritual that gets them in the zone and ready to go to war! Preparing their mental state as much as their physical .

This applies to warriors for clear reasons but also to sports people preparing to compete – they have certain rituals , clothing even in some cases still paint that will make a huge difference in how they perform. Different battle same idea. Game face is key.



So where am I going with this in applying to the general lifting ,CrossFitting, gym folk?  Humour me on this little journey; I’m going somewhere I promise! Battles come in all shapes and sizes and I’m going to bring this idea round to our little personal battles.



With my awesome team at the filthy 150

I did my first proper Cross Fit competition at an advanced level in the The Filthy 150 this year and thinking about what I was going to wear was part of my preparation. This was for primarily practical purposes but also how confident I felt out there.  I was intimidated and worried about how Id perform or letting my team down so anything that helped me feel more confident was of benefit.




I see nothing wrong with this as I believe your mental state plays a huge role in training and competing.  I wanted to feel confident and good in the areas I had full control over i.e. my hair, clothes and I’m not embarrassed to say spray tan (there was a run and I wanted to wear shorts and this made me feel more confident  , silly to some but made a difference to me  as I felt out of my comfort zone at this big competition  with amazing athletes left , right and centre)

I remember someone asking me critically if I got a spray tan for the competition and initially I felt embarrassed and like a bit of an eejit .I thought about this afterwards and changed my mind , feck that I needed my war paint!


I was going into what was a little battle for me, I was scared and nervous and the little preparations helped me feel more confident –so who the hell has the right to judge that?

At the competition I saw girls looking glam and gorgeous and girls looking make up free and beautiful ….who’s to say what’s right? Nobody that’s who!

I’m not the only person who has encountered this I’ve heard friends apologetically say they are getting their nails done or lashes done before a competition and I just say, fair play it’s your war paint! Armour takes many forms!  Once it’s not getting in the way of performance ….whats the problem?

Going for a big job interview, preparation is key right ? What you wear plays a role in your mental state and how you feel? So why can’t this apply to all challenges we encounter. It’s about what makes you feel more confident and ready!


CrossFit Games Athlete Stacy Tovar looking fabulous competing.

Your state is huge in training, sleep, food, hydration and feeling confident. These elements will affect your performance.   So I believe that what you wear can affect how you feel and therefore how you perform.  This varies with the individual it can be certain leggings , new lifters, a lucky t-shirt or yes even getting your lashes or tan done! Some people like a certain brand of socks or underwear or like everything to match! Some see the gym as their time to take off their daily restrictive uniform of 9-5 tie their hair in a top knot and not give a shit about make up as that’s cathartic for them!  A release!



IMG_7189 (1)

Matchy matchy me!

I know girls will probably feel this more than guys, but I’m sure a new pair or kicks make a guy feel that wee bit more badass too? Whipping your shirt off mid wod probably makes you feel more primal and free too right? Battle ready!

New gym gear makes you feel awesome!  I remember when I started Cross Fit and was petrified of making a fool of myself , I pretty much looked like Reebok threw up on me for the first 6 months as I thought if I have the right gear I’ll look the part and therefore be able to pull off the workouts …if nothing it made me feel more prepared and therefore yup that wee bit more confident!


I remember the milestone of me finally feeling comfortable wearing shorts at the gym , getting my tan free legs out for the first time , proud of their strength instead of seeing them as just big . This was huge and I actually started to feel they made a difference in how I performed  but it was more how I believed they helped me – a new confidence I didn’t have previously. A mental state! I felt free physically and mentally.


Now I’m not suggesting full make up, hair done looking on fleek to go do your daily training , that’s just impractical. No matter how pretty you are looking at the start if you are going for it panda eyes and the likes are inevitable!  But you do what works for you and makes you feel good and ready to smash it!



We all put ourselves through tough workouts and mental and physical battles every day at the gym; we do this because it makes us feel physically and mentally stronger and drives us to be healthier. So if wearing something particular makes you feel that bit more confident going in , I say whatever your war paint is wear it proudly, stay positive , ignore those who criticize, dont be a critic and battle on with confidence! This is your journey , own it!




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