We Can’t Keep Arguing About What Women Should Wear to the Gym


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Gorgeous Caucasian sportswoman weightlifting while looking straight at gym during cross training

Just when you thought you’d escaped the confusing confines of your high school dress code, the gym proves you wrong. In 2024, women are still sharing horror stories about their gym memberships getting revoked due to issues with the dress code. Certain gyms now consider sports bras — commonly used for comfort and support — inappropriate attire without additional covering. And gym-tok still seems to be harboring some intense feelings about what women wear to the gym. It’s a conversation we thought we’d outgrown, but critics are louder than ever, inexplicably fed up with women who just want to work out (and look cute doing it).

The gym outfit discourse seemed to rev up after a TikTok claiming that “gym outfits are out of control” went viral. The clothing is reportedly, “so revealing, there’s nothing left to the imagination,” according to the video’s creator (AKA a man who should have no opinion on the matter). The video has racked up over 600K likes, with several commenters agreeing that women should dress more modestly at the gym. “Please have some more dignity for yourself and what you’re sharing and how you present yourself,” the original creator said. “It’s this and it’s this, and it’s so skin-tight that it’s all kind of there,” the creator continued, attempting to describe the kind of no-go clothing in question. Unfortunately, this is not very comprehensive criteria.

All this pent-up energy spent worrying about what women are wearing at the gym could actually be very productive if harnessed for actual exercise.

These concerned gym-goers might not be able to tell you exactly where the line is drawn, but they swear you’ll know it when you see it. If all else fails, try thinking like a man. In one critique of women’s “skimpy gym outfits,” a creator went so far as to inquire about the inner workings of the male mind. “I want to know, when a guy sees a girl in — pretty much [her] underwear and bra — working out, what are they thinking?” she asked. “Are they thinking, ‘Oh, she’s probably easy?’ I just think there’s nothing left to the imagination, at that point.”

What this creator might not have considered is that dressing for the male gaze is gross. And to be frank, it’s not a priority for many of the women trying to get a workout in while wearing something that makes them feel good. “Not once have I bought a cute gym set thinking ‘hmm will the boys like this?'” one commenter pointed out. Others explained that “skin-tight” activewear isn’t just a confidence boost, it’s also helpful for seeing your form and staying cool during a workout. All this pent-up energy spent worrying about what women are wearing at the gym could actually be very productive if harnessed for actual exercise.

Instead of trying to understand what men are thinking, or wondering what they’d prefer to see at the gym, the simple answer is for women to work out in whatever makes them feel most confident and comfortable. The basis of a gym dress code should be to keep members safe (and we’re happy to report that a Gymshark sports bra has never hurt anyone). If you find yourself getting easily distracted, consider adding some more weight, cranking up the music, and minding your own business. Or better yet, find a cute matching workout set of your own and see why the gym girlies love them so much.

Chandler Plante is an assistant editor for POPSUGAR Health & Fitness. Previously, she worked as an editorial assistant for People magazine and contributed to Ladygunn, Millie, and Bustle Digital Group. In her free time, she overshares on the internet, creating content about chronic illness, beauty, and disability.

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