I’ve shaved down at least once or twice a year for the last oh, 24 years. Back when I first started, many people asked – “Do you shave your arms and legs?”
Lately, say, last ten years or so, I can’t even remember anyone asking. It’s become rather common.
Many of you have not ever tried to shave your legs and arms, chest, back, neck, face, head, etc. I will say that it isn’t right for everyone. My mom for instance, just would have no moral reason to shave down clean. I’m fine with that. You should be too…
However, if you are an athlete of any sort, you probably need to shave that mess off today. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or you’re working on running your first 5K race. It doesn’t matter if you swim across the English channel, or you swim across your pool 25 times every couple of days. You really need to shave that mess.
Here’s the reason why…
The difference between having hair and not having hair is huge. It isn’t a big deal as far as time splits, unless you’re swimming from California to Hawaii or something else ridiculous, you know, like some of you do.
It has everything to do with the feeling of efficiency that will knock you over when you first shave down clean as a whistle.
Back when I was 24, wow, that was half the age I am now, I was doing a lot of bicycle road racing. I was averaging 30-50 miles a day in the hills of Pennsylvania. I was running six miles a few times a week. I was swimming when I could find a pool. My big thing though – was riding the bike. I was nuts about it.
I have to say, that before I shaved, I never once thought to myself, “Hey Vern, all this hair on your legs, arms, knuckles and front teeth is holding you back. The air resistance is slowing you down by seconds at a time.”
I never thought that. I’d heard it from others, but I knew it wasn’t true. However, I had a bike race coming up and a couple of my friends had already shaved. I don’t know why I first did it, but I told myself it would make me cooler, and if I crashed it would allow me to treat the road-rash more easily, and I had less chance to get an infection.
It took me at least an hour to shave my legs, arms, chest, neck, and back. The rest I left alone.
The transformation was shocking that first time. It made me feel like a shaved hen. A hen is female, right? I felt like a little girl. Immediately I regretted my idiocy and wished I could rewind time and go back to being a hairy ape.
It took me some time to get up the courage to go outdoors and ride my bike, but within a day I was flying down the road on my Cannondale 21 speed I think it was… and my mouth must have been hanging open for the first twenty miles.
The feeling was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I felt so efficient, like I was cutting through the air like an icicle. There didn’t seem to be any resistance at all. I couldn’t feel the wind – AT ALL. Not on my head (I had a Giro racing helmet on), not on my bald legs, and not on my arms. It was so strange because I’d never felt any resistance from the hair on my arms and legs before. And then when it was gone – I REALLY NOTICED the difference. It was the greatest feeling ever.
Well, 24 years later and I’ve had the greatest feeling ever, hundreds, I guess, thousands of times. Exercising without hair helps me feel ultra-efficient. I feel stronger and faster because I don’t feel the air against me. Hair helps us to feel the wind and water resistance. Ideally we don’t want to feel any resistance because it only serves to make the mind more aware of the effort the body is exerting.
So, if you’re an athlete that goes fast through wind or water, you’re going to benefit by shaving the hair from your body. You WILL save seconds off your time because the mental boost you get is worth much more than the simple aerodynamic advantage. You feel faster and you move faster. I think shaving would even be beneficial for those athletes that move some part of their body fast through the air or water. Tennis players, for instance. Ping pong players. Kayakers. Climbers. Racquetballers. Step climbers. Speed chess players?
Give it a try and see what happens. Unless you’re bear-hairy and scary, nobody is even going to notice you shaved.
Let me know what your experience is in the comments – I’d love to hear about the first time you exercise post-shavedown.
Oh, and here’s another article I wrote about the subject of shaving –
5 Reasons to Shave Down – Plus Video!