Desperation and Jock Straps: How the First Sports Bra was Invented

So many great inventions spawned from a moment of desperation. No where is that truer than for athletes and fitness buffs, who so often have had to jimmy together the one thing they need to perform their sport better.

Inventing Sports Bra

Necessity breeds creation and that was what brought about the first sports bra. In 1977, women were still subjected to running, working out, riding horses, and cycling in their plain jane bras. That was until Lisa Lindahl and her sister, Victoria Woodrow, decided to take up jogging. Like most women did (and unfortunately still do), Lindahl just doubled up on regular bras or wore bras a size too small when she went out for a run. Doesn’t it hurt just thinking about it?

What women needed was a jockstrap for their breasts, suggested Woodrow. With that, she and her sister decided there had to be a better way, and they set out to create the first sports bra.

The prototype, called a jockbra, was just that, two jockstraps sewn together and it was the first functional attempt anyone had made to keep women’s breasts from bouncing and jerking here, there, and everywhere during physical activity. The prototypes, created in the University of Vermont theater costume shop by Lindahl and a fellow theater student, are now bronzed and on display near the university, the Smithsonian, and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The real result is worn by millions of women around the world every day, and we’re all eternally grateful to these brilliant, desperate women!

We’ve been there ourselves! Enell was born of the same desperation to keep a pair of large breasts contained during sports activity. Our founder, Renelle Braaten, had had enough of her double-Ds during volleyball and racquetball games. Nothing on the market provided her breasts the support she needed, and she was tired of doing the wear-two-bras thing. Renelle worked with her mom, a talented seamstress, to construct the first Enell sports bra. Finally, something IS available to support, stabilize, and secure large breasts!

Breasts are “a barrier to physical activity participation for 17 percent of women,” found a study out of the UK last summer. The pain, strain, and discomfort that comes from unrestrained breasts during any kind of activity is a major reason women skip working out at all. The result of that kind of stationary lifestyle is a major detriment to women’s health. So invest in the right sports bra and you are more likely to make a physical fitness investment in yourself.

5 Doctor-Approved Ways to Beat Gym Stink and BO

Here’s a fun fact: sweat doesn’t stink. That’s right, the sweat your body produces — especially during a workout — is odorless. That fragrant body smell actually derives from “bacteria that break down proteins into acids, which then give off odors,” according to Jessica Wu, MD, a Los Angeles dermatologist.

5 Doctor-Approved Ways to Beat Gym Stink and BO

Now, all sweat is fair game to this bacteria takeover, but certain sweat zones can be a little funkier. You probably know what we’re talking about, but just in case, Dr. Wu spells it out pretty well. “Apocrine glands, a type of sweat gland found in your armpits and groin, secrete sweat that’s high in proteins. When bacteria come in contact with the proteins, it breaks them down into odor-causing acids.”

And that is how your otherwise odorless sweat can turn into your body’s own version of stinky acid rain! Once those odor-causing acids infiltrate a shirt, bra, shoe, sock, bag, or towel, your best game plan is to always be up wind. The longer you ignore a sweat-stained item, the greater the stench.

“If your sweaty clothes sit around for a while before you have a chance to wash them, the bacteria multiply, and have a longer time to break down proteins—which means a stronger stink,” explained Dr. Wu. Now, your clothes stink and that makes you smell bad!

Here are her four suggestions (plus one of ours) for tackling the funk at the source and before it takes over the locker room!

1. Wash workout clothes (including socks) as soon as possible after sweating. Remember, she said the longer you allow dirty gym clothes to break down those proteins, the stinkier mess you’ve got to work with. Plus, clean fabrics won’t break down as quickly, meaning the investment in nice gym clothes will last longer.

2. Re-apply antiperspirant before working out. Beat the stink before it can start, or at least mask it. Dr. Wu recommends Dove for women or Axe dry spray for the guys.

3. Shave or trim hair in your underarms and groin. Sure, maintained body hair can be aesthetically pleasing, but Dr. Wu says that the longer hairs give bacteria a very plush place to grow. And by now we know more bacteria equals more stink.

4. Use antibiotic wipes to reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin. For some of Dr. Wu’s patients, fighting stubborn body odor requires a prescription for antibiotic wipes.

5. Take a shower. Take a shower at the gym or hit it when you get home, but the sooner you rinse the sooner you’ll clean your skin of the odor-producing bacteria that’s feeding off of your fresh sweat. If you can’t, using the wipes Dr. Wu recommended or a similar product is an acceptable substitution.

Real Sports for Women: Play More Softball for a Total Body Workout

There’s no question in anyone’s mind that softball is a legitimate sport. But do you know how much of a workout both playing and training can be? If traditional exercise isn’t your jam, softball will take care of all of your body’s physical needs, both on and off the field.


Softball is considered an anaerobic sport, it basically involves a lot of stop-and-start action, as opposed to players staying in constant motion during a soccer match, as Kelly Turner, fitness expert for, explained. During an aerobic sport, like soccer, the heart rate stays elevated constantly, while during softball you get bursts of elevation between resting periods.

“Whether you are batting, catching, or pitching, softball is all about quick bursts of speed and agility,” said Turner. The sport requires your total body to play well.

“Producing the power and quickness needed to perform well in softball games requires all of the major muscle groups to work together,” she explained, calling this functional exercise. It’s when the body is called upon to perform real world movements against resistance.

Casey Crozier knows that to be true. The former pitcher for Youngstown State University’s softball team graduated last spring as a legacy, going down as the all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched for her school.

She explained that when she and the team are on the field, they’re using their bodies in every way possible. Split-second agility to throw, make sharp turns, and run are just a few ways softball players use their bodies during a game. “In order to produce first-step quickness, the muscle must stretch before it contracts making plyometric, or jump training, a great way to boost performance,” adds Turner.

Crozier shared some of the ways these players train for wins. At least for her team, they start each morning with a cardio session —which includes swimming or a 1.5-mile jog — and strength training — focusing on body weight exercises that work both lower- and upper-body muscles. This can include squats, pull-ups, and stretching.

For both pitchers and batters, focus on strengthening the legs is key. “Batters use their legs to hit, and pitchers use their legs to generate a lot of power,” explained Crozier. And let’s not forget how sprinting to catch a ball or take a base requires a lot of lower body strength, too.

Last, but not least, is a player’s core. Turner adds that a strong lower body, including the core muscles, are necessary for sprinting, and even diving after a ball. And that, especially is where you need protection beyond what a good workout can provide.

“When girls slide to steal bases or dive to catch, they need breast support,” said Crozier. Don’t forget, Enell likes to play ball, too! Crozier advocates that female players not skimp when it comes to a sports bra. “Your body is in constant movement,” she said. “Having a secure sports bra as you run, bend over, and move in all directions is necessary to be successful on the field.”

“Playing softball will not burn huge amounts of calories, but it will increase the explosiveness of your muscles,” said Turner. If you’re still in school, join your high school or college’s team, either officially or through the many co-ed sport offerings. And those skills will go a little further than, say, your high school flute career. Adult softball leagues are available in nearly every city, through local organizations like the Y or teams through your company. Like we said, if a group fitness class or typical workout scene isn’t quite your scene, a team sport like softball may be just what you need to stay strong and active!

ENELL Founder Named Montana Ambassadors Entrepreneur of the Year

ENELL Founder Renelle Braaten has been named a Montana Ambassadors Entrepreneur of the Year!

Renelle BraatenRenelle created the ENELL bra to solve her own problem of lack of support on the volleyball court, and since 1993, it has been the premiere sports bra for well-endowed women. Today, ENELL bras are available in 500 retail outlets in the United States, Canada, and 11 other countries.

“Braaten credits her success to three values she holds true in everything she does: creativity, surrounding herself with quality people and always providing the best customer service, Montana Ambassadors said in announcing the award” said the Havre Daily News.

Learn more about this award, and read the ENELL story here.

Congratulations, Renelle!

Remember to Take HEART for Better Health

Here’s a pretty sobering fact about heart disease that every woman should know and be mindful of:

It’s the number one killer of women. 

That’s right, heart disease kills more women than any other cause of death. It’s deadlier than all forms of cancer, killing one in three women.

Contrary to popular belief, men do not have the market cornered on these heart-related deaths, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Both women and men can change the impact heart disease has on our lives, and it really only requires some simple lifestyle modifications.

5 steps to HEART health

HHave more sex. That’s right, get it on with your lover more often! That quality, active time together is considered a minimal cardio workout; it’s similar to walking a 20-minute mile. A regular and consistent sex life can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

EEat more heart-healthy foods. A diet rich in foods like nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios), red foods (cherries, tomatoes, bell peppers), fatty fish like salmon, oatmeal, berries, olive oil, and greens (broccoli, spinach) will aid your body’s fight against heart disease. Limiting heart harmers like salt, excessive fats, and red meat is advisable, too.

AAllow yourself to rest. You’ve got to get those zzzs to keep your ticker up and running. It’s recommended to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night to both greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and reduce risk of heart disease-related death. Sleep in a cool room, on clean bedding, with no light (that includes screens!).

RRide a bike. It’s one of the most beneficial ways to exercise out there, and greatly under utilized. German researchers saw a significant decrease in heart attack and stroke for men using a stationary bike just 20 minutes a day. So imagine what logging greater distance and time will do for you over dynamic terrain? Not to mention the overall benefit of the total body workout cycling can provide.

TTest yourself. Get tested annually and know your numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Make waist size one of those numbers, too, as it is more indicative of overall wellness than even scale weight. has a great guide to help you understand what it all means. Between visits, use the HEAR tips to get those numbers to healthier levels. 

HEART will help you remember a few keys ways to make key lifestyle modifications like eating the right foods and exercising more. Consider other important preventive steps you can take like smoking cessation, losing weight, and knowing your family history.

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