Five years ago, I had never heard of Planet Fitness. When I read a story about a woman who got shamed for being too buff. I wrote about it on my old blog. Apparently, at Planet Fitness, members aren’t allowed to show off. There’s a dress code that is supposed to prevent fitter members from intimidating less fit members. And Tiffany Austin, the subject of my first post about Planet Fitness, got a talking to for wearing a tank top with spaghetti straps that showed off her “toned” body. People complained, and a staff member asked her to cover up. While she was waiting for a t-shirt, another staffer approached and asked her to cover up. Naturally, this annoyed Ms. Austin, who went to the media with her concerns and canceled her membership.
Planet Fitness, the gym that allegedly focuses on “not judging” other people, is giving people something to talk about again. This time, I ran across a viral post on Facebook written by Diane Newberry, of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Ms. Newberry shared a picture of herself in a tank top. She’s not wearing a bra, but she’s quite slender and probably doesn’t even need one for support. She’d only need it to cover those “obscene” nipples of hers.
Apparently, while she was working out at Planet Fitness, a manager approached her and said there had been “many complaints” that Ms. Newberry wasn’t wearing a bra while exercising. Newberry asked the manager if she was breaking a rule by not wearing a bra. The manager admitted there wasn’t a rule about bras, so Newberry brushed it off and went home. On her next visit, she told the manager that she thought it was inappropriate for staff members to shame women for not wearing bras. The manager replied that this topic had been one of discussion lately and they were looking into seeing if their dress code was specific enough. Newberry responded by canceling her Planet Fitness membership and joining the YMCA, where bralessness isn’t an issue. I’d say that was the right response on Newberry’s part. Planet Fitness obviously isn’t for her. I’m glad she found a place where she can wear what she wants, and truly has the freedom to work out the way she wishes.
Naturally, Planet Fitness is a private business and the corporate powers that be have the right to set rules regarding dress codes. However, while women are expected to wear bras to cover up their nipples, men also have nipples, and sometimes they even have breasts large enough to rival those of women. We don’t expect men to cover their nipples; why is it considered immodest when women don’t cover theirs? What is so obscene about a nipple? It’s got a purpose– primarily to feed babies. What’s the big deal if you can see the outline of them under a shirt? I think it’s time Planet Fitness and society at large take a look at this attitude and consider changing it.
Clearly, Newberry is guilty of breaking a social more. It’s a more that probably should be challenged, especially in this age of women fighting to be able to breastfeed at will. It’s ridiculous to be alright with a man showing his boobs, but not a woman. I understand that men find boobs sexually exciting, but that’s really their problem, isn’t it? Breasts were not meant to “titillate”. They were meant for feeding babies. And I see no reason why a nipple should be offensive, in any case. It’s just a little piece of darkened skin with a knob on it. Big whoop.
While I’m all for not “shaming” or “judging” people who are trying to get healthier through exercise, it seems to me that Planet Fitness is hypocritical in its advertising. They claim to be a “judgement free” zone (and they spell judgment the British way, which makes me judge them), yet they have a “lunk alarm”, which is a siren that staffers set off when people do something against the rules.
I guess this business model works, since lots of people still work out at Planet Fitness. It has cheap membership plans at just $10 a month. But who wants to be lectured about their workout attire? They claim to not want to intimidate or judge people, but I think I would be mortified if someone on staff complained about my workout attire, especially involving undergarments. For a “judgement free” zone, that seems awfully judgmental.
I get that Planet Fitness doesn’t want people to feel ashamed or intimidated, but they seem to be violating their own policy when they insist that women wear bras, but they don’t ask men to wear them. Reminds me of that cute comic by Scott Metzger, starring topless Helen and her equally endowed husband, who tells her it’s obscene to go on the beach like that. Why is it okay for him to show his manboobs, but Helen has to cover up? Makes no sense.
Anyway… I prefer to get my exercise climbing up church towers and walking my dogs. It’s done nothing to slim me down, but I did learn that my heart still works yesterday as I ascended 328 steps at the church tower in Frankfurt. On the other hand, I was also reminded of a certain scene in In Bruges.
Well… after that humbling experience, I suppose I’d better make a point of walking the boys today. But I’ll wear a bra, because after you hit your 40s, gravity kicks in.