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By: Emily Current
If you’ve been to the Pulse then you might have noticed one way in which it differs from other gyms: nobody wears a tank top when they work out. This is because The Pulse has a “no tank top” policy in place.
When I first started going to The Pulse I felt that the policy was a terrible one with no legitimate basis. I thought that if people were bothered by bare shoulders, they simply needed to get over their issue. However, upon investigation, I’ve changed my mind.
The rule was actually implemented because of a study found by a McMaster kinesiology professor, which has shown that there are people who are more comfortable going to the gym if everyone is dressed similarly. The Pulse banned tank tops in an attempt to create a more inviting environment for people who might otherwise be uninclined to go.
This ban helps to combat the lack of bodily diversity in the gym. The gym should be a welcoming place where people of all physiques and fitness levels feel comfortable, a place that emphasizes fitness for the sake of health and well-being, rather than for an aesthetic aspect. If having people dress uniformly can make other people feel more comfortable, then that makes this policy valuable. In fact, the aim is so worthwhile that I believe other gyms — especially those at other universities or colleges — should consider implementing similar dress codes. If you can take a small step towards making people feel welcomed, then why wouldn’t you?
Although I still feel a little selfish frustration that I cannot wear some of my favourite exercise shirts when working out, overall I am now in favour of the rule. I think that it is important for the university to be as inclusive as possible and everyone should be willing to make the necessary small amount of personal sacrifice to help.
While I agree with the policy, I believe The Pulse needs to be much clearer about the rationale behind it. Without knowing the reason for the rule, it would be easy to assume that it is based on misguided ideas, such as the belief that people, especially women, shouldn’t wear revealing clothing when working out lest they distract others. Rather than fostering a welcoming community, this could leave people feeling uncomfortable about or even ashamed of their own choice of clothing.
There is no information about the “no tank top” rule posted at The Pulse, nor is there anything on their website, and this is definitely a problem. Not only is the lack of clarity over why this dress code is imposed frustrating, but it is also troublesome that there are misinformed rumors about the rule going around. Rather than having irritatingly limited information available about their rule against exposed shoulders, The Pulse should be promoting the fact that they seek to create an inviting environment.
The Pulse is making an admirable effort towards making people feel welcome, but there needs to be more clarity about why the policy is in place. The rule itself is a step in the right direction and other gyms should definitely consider adopting it.