The short answer is: Whatever the heck you want!
But really, it isn’t that black and white, right? We see what everyone else is wearing. We worry that we don’t look fashionable, or that we look awful in yoga pants, or that we can’t find the right sports bra that supports and hides the unsightly nipples. (Heaven forbid people know that we have nipples!)
So how do we work through the roller coaster of choosing, buying, and wearing clothes to the gym?
I have noticed that there is a fairly new trend to buy and wear extra cute and fashionable workout clothing. I honestly have no problem with this. I think it is fun when women feel good in their clothing and show up at the gym feeling confident. On the other hand, if you only have 10-year-old baggy sweatpants from high school and an old t-shirt to work out in, I have no problem with that either. Rock the sweats! It’s your body! Wear what feels good!
But I didn’t always think that way. I used to wonder why people would choose the clothes that they did. Why did they choose the torn up tank top, sports bra, and booty shorts? Growing up in a culture that seems to perpetuate shame based on what we wear made it hard for me to see outside that lens. I would get offended when women would wear something “immodest” to the gym. Then I became a Beachbody coach. I was completely appalled at the teeny clothing some women would dress in for the videos. Then I had a friend give me a reality check. She told me that if she could, she would work out naked.
She said it was because she thought her body was miraculous and that she loved seeing how her muscles moved and worked together. She marveled at the human body and it’s abilities.
It took me a looooong time to come around, but I finally began to see her point. Our bodies are AMAZING!!!! And it doesn’t matter what we wear when we workout. We are there to celebrate the movement of the body and build strength and endurance. It’s not about what we wear. It never was.
So if wearing an oversized t-shirt and sweats makes you feel free and helps you let go of the judgment you have on yourself, wear it! If a sports bra and booty shorts make you feel awesome as you celebrate your body, wear those! Just be aware of WHY you are wearing what you are wearing.
It’s not about the clothes. It’s about WHY you are wearing them.
Wear what feels good and let go of the rest. Don’t judge yourself on what you wear to the gym. It’s not a fashion show. We go there to sweat and work. It’s normal to look at everyone else and compare what we wear, but as soon as you catch yourself saying “I should”, as in “I should be wearing cuter clothes”, or “I should buy clothes that fit me like that”, then catch those thoughts, tell yourself they aren’t true, they are social conditioning, and then let them go.
Exercise has no special wardrobe. I often go walking in whatever I am currently wearing. I just throw on some comfortable shoes with my jeans and top and I go. If I don’t want my clothes to get sweaty, I find something that I don’t mind sweating in, like a tank top or loose fitting t-shirt. If the weather is warm, I make sure that I am wearing appropriate clothing so I don’t get heat exhaustion. If the weather is cool I make sure I wear layers so I can adjust to my body temperature. If I am in a class with 20 other people, I know it’s going to get hot in there, so I dress accordingly. Layers are always a good idea. Wear what you can move in. Don’t restrict yourself just so you can look sexy in your gym clothes, because that kinda defeats the purpose of being at the gym. But, as I said, it’s your body and you get to choose.
We have to practice massive amounts of self-compassion at the gym because it can a breeding ground for judgment. It is a place where we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and it can be hard.
Remember that you are worthy of love and belonging no matter what you wear. You are enough. Whatever you are wearing, you are always enough.
Sending you love and light,