What NOT to Wear When You Work Out

what not to wear
Most fitness fashion articles focus more on fashion sense than common sense. Unfortunately, being fashion forward sometimes becomes fashion awkward – to everybody else around you. While fitness fashion should be functional, comfortable and not jeopardize your safety, I’ll take it one step further and argue that if you work out in a public setting – say, at a gym or at a group fitness class, then the public health of those around you should be considered as well. In the name of public decency, as well as consideration for the mental and ocular health of those around you, I’m begging you to read this and change your wicked ways.


If you’re leaving the house in short shorts without underwear, slow your roll, Anthony Weiner. Maybe you’re trying to avoid the dreaded VPL (visible panty lines) or maybe your boxers briefs are too long – whatever. Bottom line: You’re THAT a-hole who traumatizes dozens of strangers in a mirrored room during leg lifts and give V-sits a whole new meaning.

Maybe you have no shame, but think about your unfortunate classmates or fellow gym goers. Most of us aren’t professional bikini waxers or medical professionals and we’re simply not prepared to see all that you have to offer.

Not to mention the snail trails and sweaty cheek prints you leave behind when you sit on shared benches or equipment. Most gyms employ a cleaning crew, not a Haz Mat team. So keep your coochie cooties to yourself.


Even if you are wearing underwear, why would you do this!? During a Barry’s Bootcamp class, I once spotted a fella wearing white dolphin shorts on the bench directly in front of me. Considering it was Legs & Butt day, I knew this wouldn’t end well, so I turned to my workout buddy and said, “We should move.” She just laughed at me and waved as I moved to the other end of the room, but she stayed put. She wasn’t laughing by the end of class. “It was awful!” she wailed, ashen-faced. As soon as he started sweating…” she trailed off, too overcome to continue.


Those cheap, comfy leggings from Target or Express are great for street wear. But they are simply not equipped to handle the pressures of a gym or yoga class. Downward dogs are like butt x-rays. There’s a reason why women drop the $$ on yoga pants with fancy technical fabrics – they keep your asanas covered.


Gentlemen, shirts may feel like a nuisance when you’re hot and sweaty, but they function as a useful splashguard and nobody wants to get sprayed with your DNA every time you raise your arms.

If you need to wear a sports bra to support your chesticles I’m begging you, do not take off that shirt. Also, if your chest and back hair is plentiful enough to require shampoo and conditioner and you have no interest in manscaping, KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON.

*Hot guys: feel free to go shirtless.


Fellas, if you must be shirtless [see #3] and you wear one of these around your torso, it looks suspiciously like a black bandeau bikini top from behind. I suspect this is not the look you’re going for.


Add a little body heat, along with bottom notes of B.O.  and top notes of Axe Body Spray, and you turn into a human aroma diffuser. For the rest of us who are forced to suck down extra oxygen during cardio, this is a headache, literally.


Here’s the thing, it jingles, clinks and clatters and has major snagging potential on moving equipment and yoga mats. If your workout involves any partner work, it can scratch, or worse, get caught on them. I once forgot to take off my diamond wedding ring while sparring in taekwondo and my ring got caught on the hem of my partner’s karate pants. I almost ended up amputating my finger, while my partner’s foot ended up with multiple lacerations. Blood and gore everywhere. The moral of the story: A little bling is a dangerous thing.


Lots of women wear sports bras as their workout top because most are designed to function as outerwear. But please save those lacy brassieres from Victoria’s Secret for your significant other. They’re really not supportive or appropriate to wear as a stand-alone top at the gym. And yes, I’ve seen women wearing nothing but a black, lacy bra with their cups overflowing and what can I say? Headlights can be distracting to onlookers.


If you’re displaying a message on your butt crack, you’re probably okay with everybody staring at your ass. I’m not okay with trying to decipher that message – backwards in a mirror, in a dimly lit room, while we’re both moving. Clearly, you’re trying to get us all killed.


Minsun Park


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Minsun Park is a blogger, writer and a black belt in taekwondo who gets her ass handed to her daily by her two sons. She’s written for iVillage, SheKnows, ePregnancy and is featured in “The Hot Mom’s Handbook” by Jessica Denay. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter