By: Rachel Atsma | December 12, 2023
Since the beginning of the semester, those who frequent the gym would most likely have noticed a certain change to their surroundings: a large sign depicting exactly what clothing can and cannot be worn to workout in. The biggest rules surround the use of tank tops in the gym. Though some of the changes seemed minor, it has become a bit of a controversy amongst gym goers, especially the women. I spoke to a couple in particular (both wished to remain anonymous) to figure out exactly what they felt was the problem with these new rules.
Both of these women use the gym regularly (4-5 times a week), and have been doing so since before the dress code rules were changed.
“I never felt uncomfortable by anyone’s clothing choices,” said one. “I never looked at anyone and thought to myself, ‘yikes, I can’t believe they are wearing that at the gym’ or anything along those lines. Everyone at the gym dressed in clothes that I felt were appropriate.”
The other shared similar views. She noted that it would be understandable if the school put the dress code in place to prevent girls wearing only sports bras to the gym. However, they both stressed that for the most part, no one at the gym really cares what other people wear. “We just go to work out and do our thing.”
Both felt that the new dress code has had negative effects on the gym environment. The presence of a dress code has made them more aware, and subsequently more self-conscious, of what they are wearing and how it looks on them. One of the girls mentioned that while she had talked to both girls and guys who disliked the dress code and had been dress-coded themselves, it seemed to be skewed slightly against the women.
“I [know] of more girls that have been dress-coded in the gym than who had not…I am now no longer as confident in the gym and am scared I am going to get dress-coded every time I am there.”
Additionally, they felt that, “It’s unfortunate to have to be feeling these things…instead of focusing on a workout.”
These sentiments would go against one of the listed reasons for the implementation of the dress code, namely to create a welcoming environment for all who use the gym.
“I feel like since we are adults, we should be beyond the point of needing to cover up our shoulders to be ‘appropriate,’ and we as Christian women should be able to decide for ourselves how to dress our bodies appropriately for the gym.”
Christian modesty is a difficult topic to discuss, as there are many different views. While the dress code was perhaps not created explicitly to tackle this problem, this is how many of the gym users have taken it to be.
Also listed among the reasons for the new dress code is hygiene purposes. The materials that tight athletic clothing is often composed of have been proven to contain more bacteria, as the germs cling to the synthetic materials more easily than natural ones, such as cotton.
The girls mentioned that the gym staff seems to be promoting wearing more baggy shorts and shirts, which are more likely to be made from cotton or other similar materials. However, the drawback of this is that while the baggy clothes may theoretically promote hygiene, or even allow for more movement, it simultaneously can make it hard to watch your form when lifting or exercising. It can also make it more hot to work out in.
The new dress code, though perhaps initiated with good intentions, has been met with some backlash. While I will withhold my own opinions, I would suggest that those who feel strongly reach out to those in charge for more information if they wish to make changes or simply understand the situation more.