The other morning, I was training a client in the gym and I overhead a couple of women discussing the workout attire of another gym member. A gym member who was not dressed in brand new, body hugging spandex. A middle-aged woman (as were the two having the conversation), wearing baggy, thread-bare sweat pants, a coffee stained t-shirt, dirty old tennis shoes and very flamboyant socks.
The conversation went something like this;
“Can you believe what she’s wearing? I’d be embarrassed to leave my house dressed like that, let alone be seen in the gym.”
“Obviously, she’s not very serious about exercise.”
“I wish she’d hurry up and get off the bench; there are regulars waiting to use the equipment.”
“Oh, and be sure to wipe off those weights she was using before you pick them up.”
Since when is gym attire an indicator of a person’s fitness? Does it inform us about their dedication to exercise? Does dressing a certain way give one priority access to equipment? Do dirty gym clothes indicate poor personal hygiene?
To say I was shocked would be an understatement.
Yes, the gym that I work at happens to be in a fairly affluent neighbourhood. Participants are more likely to be seen wearing Lululemon than tennis shorts and t-shirts. I myself, like to come to the gym in form-flattering athletic wear (you would too, if you had to wear it 6 days of the week; for me, Lululemon is ‘business attire’).
To suggest that someone not conforming to the ‘dress code’ has less right to be there than those wearing the ‘uniform’ is ludicrous. Perhaps she’s new to exercise. Maybe she had a rough morning with the kids and didn’t have time to change into something else. Maybe she or her husband are out of work and they can only afford a gym membership OR the fancy clothes. Kudos to her for choosing fitness over fashion.
I would hate to think that lack of stylish exercise clothing was keeping someone from going to the gym. In fact, the only rules about dress that we enforce at my gym are those related to safety and health; you can’t wear open-toed shoes and you must wear a shirt.
While I didn’t say anything to the women having this particular conversation (I mean really, what would you say?), I did notice that their workout was a bit ‘light’ when compared to that of the woman whose dress so offended them. Perhaps they should spend a bit less time criticizing the appearance of others and a little more time getting their fancy exercise clothes sweaty!
P.S. I live in Vancouver, home of Lululemon and laid back attire. Ironically, we have been recently tagged as the third worst dressed city in the world, primarily because everyone wears exercise clothes most of the time (and many of those sporting Lulu’s heftily priced clothes clearly don’t spend any time in the gym!).
Do you ‘dress’ for exercise or are you ambivalent about your appearance at the gym?
What’s your favorite brand of exercise clothes?