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Holy Grail or Hoax: Can a hologram make you a better athlete?

I’m wearing this tiny little sticker that makes me a better runner. Okay, it’s actually a miniature CD imbedded with a hologram that carries an energy frequency. It’s called a Power Balance “Quantum Hologram.” It’s imbedded in a neoprene band that you wear around your wrist. According to the manufacturers, this hologram “restores the body’s natural energy field,” which is diminished by everyday objects like computers, fluorescent lights, and cell phones. Once your “energy field” is back in order, your red blood cells move properly and transport oxygen to the body and organs more efficiently. The end result of all this energy field mojo? Better balance, strength, and flexibility.

All from a sticker that costs you just $29.99.

I know. It sounds more ridiculous than the ‘70s pet rock fiasco. But here’s the craziest thing about Power Balance: tons of pro athletes swear by it. Pro surfers Andy and Bruce Irons wear them constantly. Rookie quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford have both been seen wearing them. A handful of NASCAR drivers and golfers endorse the product. Even the U.S. military is testing the tiny holograms; they’re potentially going to sew them into uniforms.

Still, it’s a hologram on a sticker. Can it really make you a better athlete? I’ve been testing out the Power Balance for a couple of weeks in an attempt to find out. Proponents of this sticker say it will improve your flexibility, balance, strength, concentration, focus, and general well being. There’s a core strength test you can do that shows an immediate difference in a person’s strength with the band on. I did the test myself and then tried it on a handful of people. Each time the results were impressive.

But how about athletic performance? This is what I can tell you. Over the last two weeks, I’ve cut a minute off my average mile running pace. My bench press increased slightly, and I’ve been climbing like a champ on my mountain bike.

Now, am I running and biking better because of the hologram or have I been getting more sleep the last couple of weeks? Or more protein in my diet? Are there external factors like weather, hydration, or even motivation that have improved my performance? Or is it completely psychological? Am I a better runner and biker because of the hologram or because I know I’m wearing the hologram?

The beauty and frustration of a product like Power Balance, is that you can’t definitely show cause and effect. There are too many factors to consider, particularly the psychological aspect. The most reasonable assumption is I’m performing better on the trail because I think the Power Balance is helping me perform better. If that’s the case, if the power behind Power Balance is just psychological and it’s simply a matter of positive thinking, then so what? A portion of athletic success can be attributed to the psychology of the athlete anyway. If wearing a hologram “tunes” my psyche for success, then so be it.

The Power Balance might just be a hoax that actually works. Power Balance band

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