Category Archives: Policies & Rules


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Is that a shirt or a really wide necktie?

HealthQuest is making some minor changes to our dress code policy.  It hasn’t been updated in the past 25 years and it’s just not keeping up with the times.  The new rules will be slightly more flexible in what is permissible as footwear and slightly more restrictive in what is allowed for clothing.  These changes will have no direct effect on the vast majority of people using the Club.  It is intended to simply set some limits and provide some guidelines so that everyone can know what is acceptable in terms of workout clothing.

Our old policy was very basic: “Shirts and shoes required.  No clothing with rivets. No sandals or open-toed shoes allowed in the workout areas.”    For the most part it’s been adequate, but lately we’ve found ourselves dealing with more dress-related issues.  It became obvious that we needed to expand the rules to deal with the various dress-related conflicts that were arising and to get clear rules into place before things got out of hand.

On the footwear side we were dealing with “five-fingered” shoes and studies showing that in some instances there is a benefit to barefoot training.  On the dress side of things we’ve been having problems with overexposure.  We’ve got people coming from warehouse-based gyms that don’t require the men to wear shirts at all, and clothing is being modified to cover less and less of the body.  Clothing with profanity printed on it is becoming more commonplace.  The new code is intended to clarify how we treat all of these issues.

The footwear issue is relatively simple.  We’ve clarified that athletic shoes are required, so no boots, sandals, slippers, etc.  We’ve allowed the fingered shoes from the very start and won’t be changing that.  We also recognize that competitive athletes might benefit from doing some exercises barefoot, so that will be permitted in very restrictive circumstances.  The new policy states:

We realize that there may be certain exercises where being barefoot may be beneficial.  We also know being shoeless is inherently risky and we strongly discourage doing it here.  If you choose to ignore this warning, we ask that you keep your shoeless time to an absolute minimum. You may take your shoes off to perform specific exercises and classes, but it is unacceptable to walk around the facility barefoot.

The dress part of the equation proved to be much more difficult to formulate.  The divide between what people consider appropriate has widened and there are big differences of opinion on what is appropriate based on age, gender, and culture.  Society in general is becoming more lax about clothing, but certain segments remain quite conservative.  This is creating conflicts, and for that reason we felt that it was necessary to set some limits.  The policy we came up with was developed to be as permissive as possible while still trying to maintain a level of decorum that most people would consider tasteful and appropriate for a facility like ours.

As we researched this issue we found that many colleges appeared to be struggling with the same issues we were. The University of Oregon has signs throughout their student recreation center proclaiming their “3B Rule….Bare no belly button; bare no breasts; bare no buttocks”.  Their shirt policy states that you can wear a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or a full tank top, and that nothing exposing the chest or abdomen is allowed.  As we researched it more we found other schools that were even more restrictive, with only full t-shirts (no tanks or sleeveless shirts) being permitted.

It is an odd juxtaposition; while we often associate universities with more liberal policies they seem to be taking the lead when it comes to enforcing a more conservative dress code in the gym.  The stated policy is always that they are trying to create a welcoming environment.  One way to help accomplish this is by making sure no one’s clothing makes others around them feel uncomfortable.  While it may not be the intended effect, clothing that is overly revealing can be intimidating; it can also be sexually suggestive.  These rules are formulated to help curb those kind of reactions.

While we knew that we wanted to put some additional limits on the type of clothing we would allow, determining where to draw the line proved to be incredibly difficult.  Balancing comfort, appropriateness, and personal freedom into a gender-neutral formula that is easy to understand and simple to enforce is not a simple task.  We spent several months getting additional opinions from members, speaking with health care professionals, and mulling over all options before finally adopting our new code.

Dealing with the lower half of the body was fairly straightforward.  The new policy states that workout pants and workout shorts of reasonable length are acceptable, while slacks, pajamas, cut offs, jeans, cargo pants or just your underwear are not.  It also notes that any shorts that expose the buttocks or genitals are not allowed.  One would think that listing some of those things was unnecessary, but alas it is not.

Defining exactly what that limit will be for exercise tops proved to be much more challenging.  How much can you cut or tear off the sides or the bottom of a shirt and still call it a shirt?  Should there be different rules for men and for women?  We wanted to be tasteful yet minimally restrictive, while also being easy to define and simple to enforce.  Coming up with something that covered all of those bases was tricky.

The most simple to define and enforce, a full t-shirt, we felt was much too restrictive.  If we expand to “full” tank tops, what exactly does that mean?  Will we be measuring strap width and armhole sizes?  What if a “full” tank is 2 sizes too big or too small and end up showing off everything anyways?  That would be nearly impossible to police.  Instead we’ve decided to take our lead from the U of O and predicate the policy more on what is being exposed versus what is being worn.  While “no boobs or bellybuttons” is catchy and concise and gets the main point across, requiring a full tank top was just a bit more restrictive than we wanted to be.  Our new policy as currently written will still allow muscle tanks and modified shirts, but only up to certain point…it states that shirts may not expose the bare chest or abdominal area.  This means that wearing just a crop top or bra top is not allowed, nor are shirts with the armholes torn completely out.

We realize that making our policy this liberal leaves a grey area where what is acceptable and unacceptable meet.  We are going to use the following criteria for making this judgement.  To ensure that the abdominal area stays covered, armholes should not be cut down lower than the top of the elbow (with arms at your side).  The size and cut of the shirt will need to cover the majority of the chest, and nipples may not be exposed at any time.

These rules are not perfect and 100% clear-cut, so there still may be times when management has to make a judgement call.  That is less than ideal, but it was the only way we could allow for some personal expression.  We want you to be able to tear the arms off your favorite t-shirt when it starts to come unraveled.   But you also need to realize that there is a limit and if it becomes more rag than shirt it will need to be retired.

As stated earlier, there are very few of you that these rule changes will affect.  We’re simply trying to reign in the handful of people that are pushing the boundaries of conformity.  These new rules will give us the authority to step in and do something when someone has clearly crossed the line.  HealthQuest is an upscale fitness center and we feel that the majority of our members are looking for a workout experience that is both classy and comfortable.  It is our hope that these dress code changes will help achieve that goal and have an overall positive impact on your enjoyment of the facility.

Below is an actual copy of the new code:


HealthQuest strives to create an inclusive workout environment where all of our members can feel comfortable and welcome.  Members and guests are required to wear exercise clothing that is neat, clean, and reasonably modest.  One of our primary goals with this code is to eliminate clothing that might be considered offensive, suggestive, or overly revealing.

Because our members vary widely by age and cultural background, so too do opinions on what is considered modest.  Clothing that might be just fine for working out at home or with a group of people you know may be less suitable in an environment with more people and mixed ages and genders.   These guidelines are designed to be as liberal as possible while still maintaining an acceptable degree of decorum.

Our dress code was designed so that it can be applied to equally to everyone who used the Club.  While we recognize that there are traditionally some slight differences between what men and women wear when they work out, we live in a time where genders are no longer confined to two distinct and easily separated roles. Our policy is gender-neutral so that it can be enforced without bias or discrimination.

Acceptable*           T-shirt, sweatshirt, full tank top, any exercise wear that covers the entire chest and abdomen
Unacceptable      Underwear, mesh or see-thru tops, bra top only, clothing with anything vulgar, offensive, or profane printed on it, any top torn or constructed to expose the bare chest or abdominal area

Acceptable*            Workout pants, workout shorts of reasonable length**
Unacceptable        Underwear, slacks, pajamas, cut offs, jeans, cargo pants (no belts, buttons, zippers, etc.) any shorts that expose the buttocks, genitals, or underwear


Acceptable*          Athletic Shoes (closed-toe), 5-Finger Shoes
Unacceptable     All other shoes; such as dress shoes, sandals, & boots
We realize that there may be certain exercises where being barefoot may be beneficial.  We also know being shoeless is inherently risky and we strongly discourage doing it here.  If you choose to ignore this warning, we ask that you keep your shoeless time to an absolute minimum. You may take your shoes off to perform specific exercises and classes, but it is unacceptable to walk around the facility barefoot.

*HealthQuest shall be the sole arbiter of what it deems acceptable.  If you wear something we determine falls outside our accepted guidelines you will be asked to change your clothes or to leave the facility.

**Shorts should have a minimum inseam of 2”.  While a short of this length may be suitable for running and other upright activities, it may be too revealing when doing exercises seated and lying down.


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