If you’re “intimidated,” you aren’t working hard enough.

Fitness and athletics have been a part of my life for more than 20 years, dating back to when I had a plastic basketball rim in my family home in South Brewer, Maine.

Those were the days where sports were actually fun, and little things weren’t taken out of context and found to be offensive.

Unfortunately, that’s a great part of the society we live in today, from fields, courts and rinks of professional, collegiate and high school athletics, all the way down to fitness clubs.

This topic has generated a great deal of discussion among my group fitness brethren over the last couple of weeks, as two young women have been asked to leave their gyms – Planet Fitness in each case – due to outfits that were found to be “too revealing.”

The clients in each case – one in Michigan and another in California – were wearing workout attire that you see in fitness clubs around the globe: Tank tops and yoga pants.

However, in each case, other members found the outfits to be “too revealing” and “intimidating” to other members, and the clients were asked to leave. Both times, the clients got their money back and took their business elsewhere.

As a fitness professional, these two women deserve a great deal of applause for standing up for what they believe in.

I will say that I have no problem with people who choose to take their fitness business to Planet Fitness. Some of my closest friends do so. If that’s the facility they choose to work out at, then that’s OK. I’m all for it, as long as good health is the top priority for them.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the chain’s policies. A lunk alarm sounds if weights are dropped on the floor of if grunting ensues during a set. There is a dress code designed to make everybody feel comfortable.

In each case, both of these women felt judged in what is described as a judgement-free zone. Because other members were intimidated by their choice of workout attire.

This begs the question: Is there a legitimate “intimidation factor,” or is it jealousy?

I will say this as a fitness professional. If you spend your time in the gym feeling intimidated by what other members are wearing as opposed to focusing on your own workout and goals, then it’s likely time for an attitude change. I see guys at my own facility wearing “muscle shirts” all the time. Do I care? No. I’m there to teach classes and to train, not focus on what others are wearing. I have seen Les Mills tanktops that are more revealing than the outfits each of the aforementioned women were wearing. In the case of the Michigan client, a teenager, the top was parent approved. Before my BodyPump days, I spent many a day running around the streets of my hometown in nothing but a pair of running shorts. And not one person would say a word.

Instead of being “jealous” of somebody in terms of what they’re wearing in the gym, try doing something about it. And it’s called working harder. You aren’t going to get anywhere by complaining about what other clients are wearing to work out in. What they choose to wear to the gym isn’t anybody’s business but their own. You aren’t their parent, spouse, whatever.

Whether people choose to come to the gym and work out in a tank top and shorts or a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants, I by no means whatsoever judge them. They’re there to get their workout in and go home to their families. In the case of teaching group fitness, I’ll greet them with a smile before class, lead them through an awesome BodyPump workout, congratulate them on their efforts and fitness progress, and say “see you next time.” My clients are like family to me, and that’s exactly how I treat them.

So, stop focusing “intimidating” outfits and focus on reaching goals and working hard. It just may work out good in the long run!

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

Ryan McLaughlin is a top-notch BodyPump instructor, who teaches at Union Street Athletics in Bangor. A fitness freak and longtime competitive runner before he got into group fitness, Ryan enjoys helping his participants reach their fitness goals, and motivating them with every class.