Cheap and slinky: Hey, look! I’m working out!

It’s just so tawdry: all those cheap-looking women in their slinky tops and their short, shorts. And the men too! It shouldn’t be allowed.

After all, who wants to see a bunch of disgusting tramps and vulgar guys sweating?

But that’s exactly what’s going on at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax – and, in its infinite wisdom, managers at that facility have decided to crack down on the visual obscenities corrupting innocent individuals.

Yes, the clothing police have arrived at your local gym.

CBC News reported this week that the centre is “enforcing a dress code for its members that includes a ban on tight shorts and slinky tops.”

The broadcaster quoted a woman named Hazel Gaudet (presumably a patron, but she wasn’t identified other than by her name; perhaps she’s ridiculously famous in Halifax – Look! It’s Hazel Gaudet! – and I’m the last to know), who said she favoured the clothing ban on short, shorts.

“I feel like it makes a woman look like she’s cheap,” Gaudet pronounced. “Makes you look right cheap, like you know she’s not worth nothing. I don’t like the look of it. I find it very degrading for a woman.”

I would suggest that the woman in the mid-riff top and short, shorts, who is maybe bench-pressing weights, using the elliptical, doing core work or whatever else actually values herself enough that she came to the gym in the first place to improve her health and herself. What’s so degrading about that?

And why is she or he wearing the mid-riff top, singlet, or shorts? Because they’re hot – and I mean that in the temperature sense. Anyone who’s ever worked out in a gym knows your core temperature quickly rises indoors and anything you can do – including wearing “slinky” clothing – to alleviate that problem is a help.

The centre’s dress code says shirts must cover the body and shorts must be mid-thigh or longer.

The centre also posted this odd statement in response to the news story: “This was a light-hearted take on an internal awareness campaign of our existing Fitness Centre dress code. This is not a centre-wide dress code policy. It isn’t intended to target any one particular demographic.”

There’s nothing “light-hearted” about it. I actually first heard about this roughly three weeks ago when a friend on Daily Mile posted that she’d been told to “cover up” or leave. I thought the incident was bizarre, but didn’t pay too much attention.

It’s true that the centre accommodates people from a wide variety of cultures. Perhaps, if some individuals are that uncomfortable with what people wear to workout, a time could be set for more moderate clothing, an hour a couple of times a week where “slinky” tops and “cheap” clothing isn’t allowed.

As it is, the ban applies to the fitness centre only; so runners are allowed to wear singlets and shorts on the second-level track. That’s all fine and good, but what if they want to do a weight workout after their run? Does that mean they have to change into a new outfit?

But as Canadian Running Magazine reported, the centre is home to many top athletes such as 800 m Olympian Geoff Harris.  Canadian Running  noted Harris wrote on his Facebook page: “The Canada Games Center is home to some of Canada’s best athletes in multiple sports and the focus goes to whether someone’s short are not past there mid-thigh. I can say none of my Nike Team Gear would pass the test, does that mean I won’t be welcome to train at the CGC?”

I have taught spin cycling at six different, major gyms across Atlantic Canada, and I’ve never heard of such a rule before. Jokingly, someone on Facebook suggested that along with the ban on clothing at the centre, censored behavior would include “grunting and farting.”

Quoting directly from the centre’s regulations, someone else pointed out that the safety standards state: “Please do not disrupt or interfere in another member’s workout.  Profanity or excessive grunting is not allowed.”

Got that, weight-lifters?

I would suggest that strict enforcement of the clothing rule is liable to cause a severe drop in the centre’s enrollment and subsequent revenues. Patrons who seriously want to work out will look to other gyms, including private options such as Goodlife, where they can dress, sweat and grunt without worry of censure.

Runners, cross-fitters, spinners, swimmers (what about those bathing suits, eh?), the last thing they want to think about when they do their workout is what they’re wearing.

Now excuse me: I’ve got to put on some slinky, cheap running gear and go for a workout.


About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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11 Responses to Cheap and slinky: Hey, look! I’m working out!

  1. Deborah Jones says:

    This is hysterical. There was a huge controversy in … was it Toronto? Montreal? … about a Y with windows on its gym that overlooked an Orthodox Jewish facility. The religious authorities protested, and there was a brief attempt to either cover the windows or cover the bodies. It blew over.

  2. Rob Jackson says:

    Whenever I wear my short shorts at the gym I get so many stares that clearly send the message: “You are an object of my desire” and “My God! Please wear those shorts more often; shorter ones if you have them.” It’s an unfortunate reality, but something I’ve had to accept.

  3. Grace says:

    That is crazy! When it’s snowing outside and I have to do 32K on a treadmill in a hot gym, it’s shorts and a sports bra. Next time I’m in Halifax I’ll throw in some fishnets for Hazel.

  4. nscoach says:

    In fairness to the Canada Games Centre. The club I coach at: YHZ Track and Field Club has been training at the Canada Games Centre for the past 2 winters. We have never had an issue with the dress code. Nobody has come to us after the fact and said “we need you to go to the change room and cover up”.

    Perhaps members complain to staff and then we hear about it in a roundabout fashion, however the complaints we do hear about are from members who are using the lanes that we have rented out, and the signs are also clearly marked for them to see when they set foot on the track. The staff has to play the heavy and politely ask them to move, which they do a marvelous job of; the staff is genuinely friendly and they often go over the top to accommodate our training group.

    • subthree says:

      Maybe so, but someone else on my Facebook, who has a child in YHZ reported that, in fact, they were warned about the dress code. Conflicting reports here, I’m afraid.

  5. Kevin Tulloch says:

    So does this mean that I can’t wear my trendy new Lululemon “past my mid thigh” yoga pants that show my ass when I bend over??? Just looking for clarification ;o) get your sack cloth here!

    • subthree says:

      Are those the ultra-trendy Lululemon yoga pants that are being recalled because they’re too sheer? Let me know when you’re working out at the gym, so I can avoid it, okay? Haha

  6. Samantha says:

    This policy makes me so mad. None of my shorts even attempt to reach my knees, but theyre still not revealing any private areas or anything. I’ve just gone on wearing my short shorts, and occasionally gotten warnings. But today was ridiculous, I went in and they told me I had to leave, immediately, and couldn’t finish my workout. This is such a bullshit policy. “Hazel Gaudet” gets to wear what she’s comfortable working out in, probably sweat pants and a hoodie, why can’t I wear what’s comfortable for me to work out in? One set of dead lifts in, I’m sweating up a storm and no way in hell could I be wearing much more clothing than I already do without getting uncomfortably warm. Thanks Hazel and co. for ruining my gym experience. I’m going to find another gym that actually lets its serious members work out in serious work out gear.

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