Are You Wearing "Appropriate Attire?"
The Rise of Athleisure Wear
It started with a question. While on vacation, I bought a day pass at a local gym. Halfway through my workout, an attendant approached me and asked, "Are you visiting?"
"Yes" I replied. "Why do you ask?"
"I'm afraid you're not allowed to wear jeans in the gym while working out. It's OK today, but if you come back, we only allow appropriate gym attire."
Now I'm not usually someone who would choose to wear a pair of jeans to a workout. But that particular day, I had driven for 30 minutes to the gym, only to realize I left my workout shorts behind. Rather than waste an hour going back for them, I figured a workout in jeans wouldn't be a problem. Fortunately for me, it was a slow day in the gym and the attendant was willing to let me slide.
But it got me thinking about "appropriate attire."
After my workout, I asked the attendant why the rule against jeans. He quickly replied, "It's a safety issue. Jeans can get caught in the equipment."
So I asked him about the three women working out in sweat pants. BAGGY sweat pants. BIG, LOOSE, baggy sweat pants. "Those are more likely to get caught in something than my jeans. Aren't they a safety issue?"
"I don't really know. I guess so, but they're allowed." he said.
Now I was even more curious. I decided to ask the front desk person in another room, if she knew why jeans weren't allowed. She said, "It's the rivets. They rip the benches."
Once again I thought I would use logic, so I pointed out the jeans I wore didn't have rivets. The equipment would be perfectly safe.
"I don't know about that" she said. "I just know they're not allowed."
Later that day, a friend forwarded me an article written for the Washington Post by Kerry Folan. She talked about how yoga pants or other Athleisure attire should never be worn as daily wear. They should be restricted to the gym or athletic events only because, "It's about manners."
The tragedy she noted was that such clothing makes life easier. We become too relaxed wearing comfortable things and somehow that was bad for society.
What Ms. Folan saw as a downfall, I feel is an advantage. Especially when approached with a little common sense.
When you went to the hospital in the 1970s, male doctors typically wore a tie while making the rounds. Research later revealed, those ties were dripping in nasty germs that often spread from patient to patient. Every time doctors bent down to check something out, those ties would fall forward to spread their nastiness.
They were dangerous remnants of a belief in "appropriate attire." It's taken some time, but as hospitals realize the dangers, ties are being slowly (and mercifully) banned.
All that got me thinking about appropriate clothing for the gym. I believe it should all boil down to what's practical.
Long pants are fine if your gym is cold or you feel more comfortable wearing them. But you should wear shorts if you need to see how the muscles in your legs are moving. Shorts are also a good idea if you're using a physical therapist or personal trainer so they can observe what your body is doing.
Shirts and tank tops should allow a full range of motion doing your exercises. Just how tight or loose they should be is a matter of functionality.
The most important accessory you should bring is a sweat towel. Put it down anytime or place your body is making contact with equipment. You avoid leaving a puddle behind and it protects you against what the previous person may have dripped on the equipment.
Perhaps by saving a few minutes each day putting on comfortable clothing for daily activities, people will be able to schedule more time for exercise. After all, you'll already be dressed for it. Would that really be so bad?
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