That’s Life, Gym…. But Not As We Know It.

I am sick and tired of being out of shape. Yeah, we all know I don’t need to lose weight, but I lack definition and tone, and I could really use the extra energy that working out can bring. So I have decided to join a gym. It’s been about 8 years since I last set foot in one. Not sure where or what yet, and it will probably be something like Planet Fitness that has a $10 a month promotion. However, by the first of the year I want to be enrolled somewhere.

So here is the question – if you are an Orthodox woman and you go to a mixed gym – what is appropriate and safe to wear? I have no issue with wearing a bandanna to cover my hair, I wouldn’t want my hair in my face anyway. Wearing a skirt to work out, well, it just doesn’t sit right with me. (Apart from the fact that those ankle length skirts can hamper you when doing the stairmaster and / or get caught up in the machinery). Do you wear skants? (skirt over pants?) If so, does that not lead to overheating? Or do you pay more so that you can go to women only hours at a gym that provides that service? (Not an option for me – I need cheap and functional).

I have friends who say that if guys want to ogle us when we are working out, then it is their sin not ours, and if we just go in and do what we need to do without acting in an attention seeking manner, then who cares what we wear?! The guys shouldn’t be looking anyway, right, if they are so frum?!

What are your thoughts? What works for you?

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  1. When I was living in Connecticut and going to a Planet Fitness, I was probably the only Orthodox Jew (and maybe Jew) in the entire gym at any given time. My policy was a bandana, baggy 3/4-length shirt, and loose workout pants.

    I wear the skirt over pants when I go to physical therapy, but it’s kind of a pain in the tush, and I usually remove the skirt when I get there because it’s too hard to do stuff otherwise.

    (Note: My gym opens January 11, so I’ll be faced with this again, especially in Paramus, NJ!)

  2. le7 says:

    I have a tissue thin, stretchy cute short skirt from Target that I wear over pants. I don’t even notice it unless I’m doing elaborate stretches. I feel like there are definitely comfortable solutions.

  3. Sophia says:

    When I was last using a Gym it was at my rowing club and I did wear form fitting kit, mainly did my weights on the girls night, but to be quite honest the men using it were more interested in their own thing than anything else. As I was unmarried at the time hair covering wasn’t an issue.

    If I were to start using a public gym I would probably go with the bandanna, long t-shirt and yoga pants look. What I actually do is Pilates and I have a private woman teacher who comes once every 3 weeks @ £45/hr (cheap for London where I live – my nearest gym would cost about the same per month). We do the work out in my sitting room, so no tznius issues for me and then the rest of the time it is up to me to do my workout 3-5 times a week.

  4. Why not go to one of the many “Kosher Gym”s in the NY area?

    • Mark says:

      Because:

      1) They are probably 4-5 times the price of the local one with the sale going on.
      2) It’s probably a longer drive (and it has been proved that the longer the drive to the gym, the less often you go there).

  5. Elle says:

    I went to a gymn a while ago which had a women’s area that I always used. Gyms run the chance of being much like a bar – guys checking out girls, girls checking out guys. everyone checking themselves out in those big old mirrors. *eyeroll*
    Which of course brings up another thing that always bothers me – why is it not considered immodest to see men working out? I surely don’t want any men looking at me… but I also don’t want to be looking at other men. maybe you’re a saint – but a guy sitting next to me all sweaty and buff is not a wise decision in my opinion! pheromones work both ways, ladies. We aren’t immune like we pretend to be! That’s a dangerous ideal we like to hold up – thinking that wandering eyes are only a male problem.
    Either way, I don’t buy that whole “if a guy checks a girl out when she’s working out then it’s his problem” thing. No offense, but if that were true then women wouldn’t need to dress modestly to begin with. If it’s an non-kosher gym (or co-ed gymn) you better be believing guys will be checking you out… that’s up to you to decide how you feel about.

  6. anon says:

    i used to wear a loose knee length skirt over my yoga pants – I have been in major weight loss mode the last few months (and lost over 35 lbs) and just started wearing baggy/wide leg pants and a loose t-shirt and going to a gym that I know doesnt have many frum ppl from my community.

    end of the day – you have to wear what makes you comfortable and buy special light workout clothes.

  7. Rubyv says:

    I used to work out at a coed gym and honestly never noticed people checking each other out. For the most part people were just there to sweat and work. Yoga pants,

  8. MelissaSG says:

    I just joined the JCC gym, so we’ll see what happens there, however to date I’ve been utilizing my apt gym, and there only other Jews in the building are very close friends who I know work out elsewhere ;-)
    I tend to wear bike shorts under a knee length jersey skirt and a 3/4 sleeve top. I have a wicking snood that I wear, or just a baseball cap. I find that it doesn’t get in the way of any activities any more than baggy pants would.
    I’m planning to wear capri yoga pants, though koshercasual has a skirt/pant thing designed for working-out which I may look in to.

  9. Yonitdm says:

    If I had to go to a mixed gym I’d go for the 3/4 sleeve t-shirt and stretchy skirt route, but I’d also have to tailor my workout as I wouldn’t use the thighmaster in mixed company, ya know?

    Really I’d much, much rather take a class: dance, pilates, what have you so I stick with women’s gyms (in the theoretical these days) for that reason.

  10. Drew says:

    The frum women who take yoga where I work tend to stick to wide legged yoga pants that don’t show any outline of the upper thigh and a 3/4 or full length short made of wicking materials (That’s the key to any modest workout wear) According to most, this is acceptable. We also offer an all womens class and occasionally get someone who comes in with a skirt over her pants however extra fabric is warm and it will constrict your movements. If you’re just getting on an elliptical look into pants like Lululemons Stills or Be Stills, they’re wide legged and they will hem them to the perfect length for you so it doesn’t get caught in the machines.

    Glad you brought this up now, I’ve been trying to figure this out myself.

  11. Ariela says:

    The only time I worked out in a gym was the three years we lived in Seattle – at the UW gym. It is a huge gym. There were only three types of guys that worked out there: 1. gay men 2. Middle age guys who were told by the dr. that if they didn’t start working out they would die and 3. weight trainers – this group is not mutually exclusive with #1. In other words, the men went there to work out and get in shape – not pick up women.

  12. Ariela says:

    Although many of them went there to pick up other men.

  13. Z! says:

    because my love is for the treadmill, I just wear any old 3/4 skirt and 3/4 sleeve top!

  14. batya from NJ says:

    I’m a fan of exercising in the privacy of my own home while watching TV…

    • batya from NJ says:

      …On the elliptical, i should add. There are also many $15 exercise videos out there. Check out http://www.collage.com or you can even borrow from the library. Then again, some ppl. need to leave their houses in order to be motivated to work out but thankfully i am motivated enough to exercise at home whenever i have the chance.

  15. fille says:

    Since when do you have to wear a skirt when working out?

    Isn’t it agreed that sports is sports and one should be dressed adequately?

    There is nothing as ridiculous as women skiing in skirts,. apart from the danger involved when the skirt dangles up in the skilift.

  16. G6 says:

    I’m no posek, but if you’re asking my personal thoughts, I wonder if wearing a skirt over pants doesn’t draw MORE attention and ogling than simply a long, loose t-shirt over pants might.
    I’m not advocating sexy workout wear, but my guess is that if your the one in the long baggy shirt over pants, the guys will pass you over for the more provocatively dressed patrons.
    Just do your thing, get healthy and head for home.

  17. Bracha says:

    I agree completely with G6. Why stand out in a ridiculous skirt/pant getup when you can be modest enough with baggy pants and t-shirt?

  18. fille says:

    By the way: I do not understand this new rule about “separtate gyms” either. I thought that “separate” was only required when some degree of nudity was involved, like swimming.

    I suspect that separate gyms are the first step to separate busses and separated SIDEWALKS as they did over Sukkot in Meah Shearim.

  19. e says:

    I don’t feel comfortable exercising in front of men, so I love Lucille Roberts. Do you have one near you?

  20. Dan says:

    You do what you gotta do to stay healthy. No reason to get all litvish. In Gateshead the girls go swimming in bathing suits and are watched by a male lifeguard. It is a whole sugya in misasek, but the point is that nobody is interested in you at the gym. We all go to work out and there is a way to dress modestly when workign out that allows you to exercise and not overheat. Light sweat pants.
    Also the JCC rockland has a state of the art gym with a women’s only workout room. You should check it out. Near the palisades mall.

  21. motherof4 says:

    If you just want to get into shape, check out dustinmaherfitness.com – I divide it into 30 min workouts, have lost no weight but am much stronger, have more energy and look better.

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