Equipment—it's a necessity in sports. Like a microphone for singers or stage lights for theatre performers, professional athletes to high school jocks to your average Joe at the gym need the proper gear to make sure they're taking full advantage of the work they're putting in.
If you're going to get all sweaty and tired, you may as well make sure you're using the right stuff while doing so. There's a reason you shouldn't be doing squats in running shoes, for example. But unlike years past where we were bombarded with with nothing but over-the-top, 10,000 air-pocket canoes for athletic shoes, things have slimmed down now, becoming more advanced while retaining simplicity.
Lighter, faster, better—you're seeing more and more examples of this around the world of fitness and sports.