When you look for a new gym, you would generally just check out their membership plans, pricing models, or even some general rules regarding machine and equipment usage.
But it’s much deeper than that.
Many major gym chains, especially commercial ones, have a specific set of rules and regulations that you need to follow. You might otherwise know these guidelines as gym etiquette.
These cover all aspects of how you behave inside gyms – the way you work out, the way you present yourself to the other members and staff, and even the way you dress.
That’s right. Most gyms in the United States have a dress code. Unfortunately, you cannot just walk into any gym wearing whatever you want.
You have to abide by their rules if you want to work out within their premises.
One of the most hotly contested topics in this regard is whether women wearing a sports bra to the gym is acceptable or not.
More importantly, is it allowed in most gyms? Let’s find out.
Can I Wear a Sports Bra to the Gym?
If you plan on wearing just a sports bra to the gym, you might have to consult the official policy and dress code of the gym where you are currently working out.
In other words, it completely depends on whether your individual fitness club allows it or not. As far as personal experiences go, most larger chains that focus on the commercial aspect of the fitness industry do not allow members to come to the gym wearing just sports bras.
This is because most of these chains are family-friendly and have laid out specific guidelines to make all members comfortable while working out with each other.
In some cases, members even report that their gyms have restricted the use of sleeveless shirts and cut-offs in an effort to maximize modesty within their premises.
On the other hand, gyms that focus more on fitness, powerlifting, or bodybuilding are generally more casual about such restrictions and regulations. In such clubs, you would find many members wearing just tank tops, sports bras, or even working out shirtless.
In the case of big chains, it’s important to consider that checking out their official policy might be insufficient.
That’s because most of these chains operate on a franchise model. So, each of their gyms is owned by individuals who might have different rules and regulations for the gym that they are managing.
So, it’s best to apply a door-to-door approach while finding out the dress code of each gym where you would want to work out. Not doing so can lead to complications. If you don’t agree to their terms of service, the gym would have all the rights to suspend your membership without initiating any refund.
Why Did Planet Fitness Ban Sports Bras?
One of the most prominent gym chains that banned sports bras is Planet Fitness. The franchise also houses some of the most accessible fitness studios in the United States of America.
With more than 2,300 clubs across the country, members often line up to purchase the highly affordable Planet Fitness memberships.
The only problem with Planet Fitness, however, is that they have some strict rules and regulations about how their members should behave within the premises. And usually, they are pretty strict about enforcing these rules.
Fortunately, Planet Fitness has not made a general statement about women wearing sports bras to their gyms. But mostly, you’re very likely to be stopped by the staff at the front desk if you show up at their club with only a sports bra covering the top half of your body.
Planet Fitness follows a stringent dress code routine. In some places, men cannot even wear tank tops because beginners might feel intimidated seeing well-built men wearing sleeveless apparel. Ornaments and toe-revealing footwear are banned in all their studios as well.
So, it’s no surprise that most of their clubs would not allow members to show up wearing only a sports bra. However, that is not always the case.
Some Planet Fitness gyms are more relaxed and might be more lenient and allow members to wear sports bras that cover a good part of their midriffs.
Ultimately, it’s up to us to understand that Planet Fitness prides itself on being a judgment-free zone. So, enforcing these dress codes and regulations is part of their efforts to make all of their members comfortable under the same roof.
Why Do Some Gyms Not Allow Sports Bras?
In today’s age, even globally acclaimed gym chains like Planet Fitness cannot prohibit members from wearing a piece of clothing without following up with some appropriate reasons.
As such, a lot of gyms that have banned women from wearing only a sports bra have issued statements where they have cited different reasons as to why they enforced such a rule.
Here is a rundown of some of the primary concerns that these gyms had that compelled them to ban wearing just a sports bra to the gym:-
Dress Code Policy
Almost all modern gyms have a specific dress code that all members need to follow. Depending on the size and nature of the gym, these restrictions can be light and casual.
For example, many fitness clubs focusing on professional bodybuilding have little to no regulations about what their members should wear. However, their dress code requires that members at least not wear anything indecent, offensive, racist, or illegal.
On the other hand, larger chains that are more inclusive in nature have stricter dress codes. There, you’ll have rules on what kind of footwear you should wear, what kind of pants you should wear, and even the kind of shirt you’re allowed to wear. For example, some local gyms don’t allow cut-offs or sleeveless t-shirts for various reasons.
Mostly, these dress codes have been designed to ensure that all the members dress up modestly and decently while working out. As larger chains are open to everyone, including families, clothing items like sports bras might be considered too revealing and are therefore banned.
Many commercial gyms, including the likes of Planet Fitness, are considered safe havens for beginners who have just started their fitness journey. That’s because these gyms make maximum effort to ensure that newbies don’t feel uncomfortable or intimidated by seasoned bodybuilders.
Rules and regulations are designed to ensure that jacked-up gym bros do not scare off potential new clients. Men might become uncomfortable seeing other well-built topless men working out with huge weights.
Similarly, women reportedly also get uncomfortable when they see other women with slim and healthy physiques wearing only a sports bra. They might face body image issues and start feeling insecure about how they look.
As such, gyms like Planet Fitness have rallied to their support by banning such clothing items, including sports bras.
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Some popular gym chains have reported that while wearing a sports bra can be comfortable and practical for women who want to work out conveniently, doing so can also lead to body shaming or negative comments from other gym-goers.
This includes unacceptable comments from women wearing sports bras to other women, leading to a toxic environment. This might also include comments on the women’s choice of clothing from other members.
Some people might shame them for wearing outfits that are too revealing, leading to a highly uncomfortable environment within the gym.
While staff members are ever-present to deal with and diffuse such situations, it’s also a good idea to prevent a confrontation altogether by restricting the use of such clothing items.
Health and Hygiene
Wearing only a sports bra while working out can also lead to several hygiene issues, both for the gym as well as the individual.
When you exercise, you are bound to sweat. And these sweat droplets often mix with certain oils, dirt, and bacteria on our skin. This leads to an increased risk of bacterial growth and unpleasant odors.
Now, if you are only wearing a sports bra, sweat will get accumulated on the bra as well as on the skin. Thus, the risk of bacterial growth and odor is increased.
Similarly, if the sweat droplets manage to penetrate through the fabric of the bra, then it might be difficult to wash off thoroughly. The next time you wear the same bra to the gym, it might radiate even more odors, ultimately making other members uncomfortable.
Lastly, if you wear only a sports bra, it will expose more of your skin to gym equipment, something that the management does not like. So, you’ll be more prone to transferring your sweat to equipment like benches or mats, which can lead to the growth of bacteria and germs. So, other members will also be exposed to the risk of infection or illness.
So, there are multiple health and hygiene-related issues due to which many gyms have banned the concept of wearing only a sports bra to the gym.
Sports bras offer a lot of comfort and convenience to women while they are working out. As such, it is a preferred piece of gym clothing for them.
However, many gyms have restricted members from wearing only a sports bra due to various reasons.
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When looking for a place to work out, it’s best to contact each gym personally to find out if they have any specific dress code policy about women wearing sports bras within their premises.