C/O ŞULE MAKAROĞLU
A new dress code for the Pulse Fitness Centre now allows students to wear tanktops and sleeveless shirts.
Each year, students at McMaster University pay an annual fee for membership to the Pulse Fitness Centre. At the Pulse, students have access to a wide range of fitness equipment and recreational programming.
In the past, to enter the Pulse, not only was membership required, but students also had to adhere to other rules and regulations of the centre. This included wearing proper athletic footwear and a full shirt with sleeves.
However, on Aug. 25, 2021, the Pulse announced that the centre’s dress code is being updated. Students are now allowed to wear sleeveless shirts and tank tops.
In previous years, the dress code at the Pulse has been up for much discussion amongst students.
Lee-Anne Wilson, wellness and fitness coordinator at the Pulse, said that following complaints, petitions and student feedback that the staff members have received over these years, an update to the dress code now felt like the right time.
Wilson explained that the school had initially decided on the previous dress code due to findings from an old study that dates back over 20 years. The study noted that people tend to be more comfortable in the gym when other members are dressed more conservatively. This was especially the case for novice exercisers or those who are new to the gym and may be feeling more uncomfortable.
With the welcoming of students back on to campus following school closure in March of 2020 due to COVID-19, McMaster now faces two cohorts of undergraduate students who are unfamiliar with campus facilities. In addition to all the previous concerns students had expressed in the past, Wilson explained that the centre felt this was the perfect opportunity to implement a new dress code.
“It felt like this was a good time to do something that student members in particular would be happy about,” said Wilson.
Aside from consulting with other staff members within McMaster, Wilson said that the centre also conducted research into other university gyms and commercial gyms to compare the school’s dress code with others.
“I went out to other universities in Ontario to find out if there were anyone who had a dress code that was as strict as ours and at this point, we were the only one left, so that tells you something,” explained Wilson.
Victoria Cirone, a fourth-year kinesiology student and fitness instructor at the Pulse, said although the previous dress code did not cause too much of a hindrance for her, she is glad that it has been changed.
“I didn’t mind having to wear a t-shirt . . . It really [came down to] when I was really sweating and working hard sort of thing, where I felt it was physically uncomfortable,” Cirone explained.
As of now, nobody has expressed negative concerns about the dress code change or a desire to keep the previous dress code.
On the other hand, Wilson and Cirone both said responses to this change from students have been extremely positive.
Students have already begun considering the new dress code as they arrive at the gym in their workout attire.
“Some people are wearing t-shirts. Some people are wearing tank tops . . . It’s a mix, but it feels like people are wearing what they want to wear,” said Wilson.
Aside from the new dress code, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pulse has also been operating with a different set of protocols. Students who want to use gym equipment at the centre need to sign up for a one and a half-hour time slot at one of three locations. This includes the Sport Hall Pulse, Pop-Up Pulse and Track Pulse.
Sign-ups open 48 hours ahead of time and students are required to always wear a mask indoors.
Although wearing a mask during workouts might not always be comfortable, Cirone expressed that she is in agreement with the protocol as she understands it helps keep everyone safe.
“My thinking is, if this is the way I’ll keep myself and other people safe, so be it,” explained Cirone. “[I]f it’s what we got to do to prevent outbreaks and covid and that sort of thing, I’m all for it.”
Cirone also suggested that students can consider bringing an extra mask to change during their workout in order to feel more comfortable if their masks get too sweaty.
Currently, Cirone has been teaching fitness classes virtually but has also taught outdoor classes during the summer in person.
For Cirone, both in-person and virtual classes have their own set of benefits.
“[When you’re in-person] you get to actually see people face-to-face and there was more engagement and feedback . . . Whereas now, virtually, I get to join people at home where it might be a more comfortable setting for different folks,” said Cirone.
Although navigating fitness programs and other services offered at the Pulse has not been easy with the ongoing pandemic, Wilson expressed that she is most thankful for how cooperative and patient students have been.
“I really [want to] say thank you to the McMaster community and our student members who have just been so fantastic, understanding and accommodating. We’ve been working really hard. It [hasn’t] been easy for anybody in a [public service] business to get through this,” said Wilson. “It’s been a joy to see everybody back in the gym, being active and being able to have that outlet while they’re on campus.”