- The Gym. We love to hate it, but an estimated 45.3 million Americans have a gym membership of some kind. Some of us go to lose weight, some of us go to bulk up, some of us go because our gyms have free daycare, and some of us go because we like to lay by the pool in the summer. Whatever our reasons may be, there are an awful lot of us attending these shrines to sweat.
Since there are SO MANY of us there, it seems only fitting that we establish some kind of etiquette standards for grooming, hygiene, and dress code, right?
The other day I was at the gym, after my workout, getting ready to head to the pool for a little bit of vitamin D and relaxation. I stopped at the gym cafe to grab a protein shake, in my swimsuit, towel around my waist, flip-flops on my feet. I noticed I was the only one in a swimsuit at the moment, so I texted a trainer friend of mine and asked if a swimsuit in the cafe was bad etiquette. He responded, “yes.” I responded with a well-executed huff.
I put the question to Facebook, and instantly I received a FLOOD of opinions about gym attire, pool attire, personal hygiene, and locker room rules. Apparently this is a hot button issue for some! So here is my (very opinionated) take on what you should and shouldn’t wear to the gym. You may agree, you may disagree, but hey! Dialogue is a beautiful thing! Especially when it is of the “monologue” variety, and coming directly from the flickering type of my fingers.
DO: Engage in basic grooming. Wash your hair. Wear deodorant. Trim any intimate and excessive hair that might be on display in regular gym attire. Back hair in the gym? No. Assuming that everyone around you doesn’t mind your personal musk? Also no. NOOOOOOOO. Clean yourself up, just a little, and you won’t be known as the smelly, greasy kid in class.
DON’T: Groom yourself naked in the locker room. If I had a dollar for every time I saw somebody doing something like blow-drying their pubic hair or shaving their legs in the steam room, I’d have TOO MANY DOLLARS. It’s called personal hygiene because it’s personal. Meaning I don’t need to see it. Ever. And if your bush requires extensive dry-time, you may want to invest in EITHER a waxist OR cotton panties that can soak up any excess shower fluid.
DO: Wear clothing that fits close to the body. It can be dangerous to have extremely loose clothing that can get caught on machines, and having clothes fly up in your face when you’re inverted is distracting and uncomfortable for you, and plus I don’t want to see your cavernous belly button. Or your scrotum.
DON’T: Wear clothing that fits TOO close to the body. If I can describe your genitals to a sketch artist, then you need to be wearing different shorts. I don’t care if you’re 100 lbs or 400 lbs, nobody wants to see your labia through white spandex while they’re trying to do push ups. Well, maybe SOME people do, but I assure you it’s not the people you want to be staring at you like that. It’s probably dude with back hair.
DO: Accentuate your best fitness features. Nothing can be more motivating than looking down when you’re doing leg presses and seeing your badass quads staring back at you. Or, if you have fantastic arms, doing tricep dips and knowing that your shoulders look strong and athletic while you work out. Honestly, 2/3 of my workouts consist of just mad-dogging/approving my bits as necessary.
DON’T: Allow other features to dominate you. If you have large breasts, STRAP THOSE PUPPIES DOWN. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen women jogging in inadequate sports bras and tank tops. If your ta-tas are wobbling precariously at the top of your shirt, I’m going to be so concerned for their welfare that it’s a distraction. Also? OW. See our sports bra guide for some good options. On a similar note, men don’t need to be doing bicep curls in tank tops that leave their armpit hair visibly dripping with sweat. I will know that they have biceps, even if I can’t see armpit. Trust me. I have radar for man muscles.
DO: Feel free to sweat! Working hard at the gym is something to be proud of, and being a sweaty mess when you’re done is part of the reward. As long as you don’t smell like a jockstrap, nobody is going to be looking at you with anything other than admiration, regardless of your fitness level.
DON’T: Forget to carry a gym towel to wipe up after yourself. Dripping sweat– yes. Leaving drips of sweat for the next person using the equipment? Totally unacceptable. If I wanted to touch another person’s sweat, I’d either be having intercourse or doing greco-roman wrestling.
DO: Put some effort into how you look. I know it seems completely absurd, but sometimes having a cute gym outfit and lip gloss makes you work a little bit harder. I’m not saying you need to go out and blow hundreds on a new gym wardrobe (like I totally do, but obviously I have no common sense), but don’t show up in sweats with holes in them and an old Grateful Dead t-shirt. If you look sloppy, your form is likely to be sloppy, and you’re less likely to put forth the intensity you need. Plus, and I’m just saying this because it’s true, gym flirting is kinda awesome. Feeling cute and making eye contact with the Ryan Reynolds lookalike on the Smith machine might make you push a little harder. And by you, I mean me. It makes me push harder. Don’t judge me, jerkstore.
DON’T: Be that girl who shows up in coordinating everything, full makeup, and a real “hairdo.” Why? Because this isn’t the prom. Because your trainer is going to ask you on a second date regardless of whether or not you have lightly curled tendrils of wispy, glossy hair trickling down by your eyeballs. You’re paying him $100/hour to ALWAYS want a second date. But also? Because she’s not going to sweat for real, that’s why. A fresh manicure, eyelash extensions, and perfectly coiffed hair (left down, because ponytail holders would ruin the look) on a girl who is BARELY working while either talking on the phone or reading gossip magazines infuriate me. Congratulations on your face. Now do some work or go to a Starbucks and continue not eating actual food items because it’s easier to starve than sweat, right?
I’m still not sure about wearing a swimsuit in the cafe, but I know for sure that a little bit of awareness makes a lot bit of difference. Between all of us, I’m sure we can put an end to the more horrific gym attire, and we can start putting our best, beautifully-sneakered foot forward.