Women’s gym wear: Is it style, or is there more to it?

What you need to know:

  • Some women are usually on a mission to snag themselves a loaded man, and their skimpy workout gear is just a clever ploy to get the rich guys' attention

On a recent Sunday evening, as my friends and I relaxed in the sun-kissed views of Mbezi Beach, a young lady in a figure-hugging outfit that left nothing to the imagination passed by, prompting an interesting discussion.

How women dress in gyms was the topic. We wondered why, on earth, some women go to the gym dressed as if they were going to a nightclub.

The ‘provocative’ gym outfits include hot pants, skin-tight shorts, yoga pants, and leggings, to mention but a few. Some women wear sports bras in place of tops with nothing to cover the rest of their bodies.

“Gym attire is getting out of control these days. At the gym, you will see different types of women, and their outfit choice says more about them than they realise,” said one of my friends.

Another one chipped in, stating that some women dress nearly naked. He compared some of the clothing at the gym to lingerie.

“Some ladies work out in what appears to be their underwear and not gym clothes. Wearing such clothes in shared places is inappropriate,” he said.

Another one said such women do so to draw men’s attention. “I pay no attention to women when I am training. They are a distraction, and when I am at the gym, I’m there to sweat and burn,” said our friend, admitting that women look good in athletic apparel.

Bob, another friend, came up with a revelation that had us in stitches. “I go to the gym every day just to see the ladies in their revealing outfits. They look sexy in those clothes, which motivates me. Their sight makes me work even harder,” Bob said amid laughter.

Bob, an IT professional, mentioned that he was considering becoming a gym trainer so he could hang around with the attractive women all day.

The juicy discussion at the beach led to some interesting revelations, which I thought were worth following up.

Strategy to catch prey?

It emerged that these sultry attires that some women wear at the gym aren’t just a coincidence; they’re a calculated move to attract wealthy men.

Kim, a fitness enthusiast in Sinza, shares that some ladies are usually on a mission to snag themselves a loaded man and that their skimpy workout gear is just a clever ploy to get the rich guys' attention.

“Let’s be real, guys; there's a time and place for everything, and the gym is not a runway. From the way these women dress, you could be forgiven for thinking they were on a mission to find their next rich boyfriend," Kim shares, adding that trying to get in shape is used as a cover-up here.

Deogratias Kanana, a trainer in Mikocheni, concurs, stating that he knows women who typically check to see if there are wealthy men around before determining whether or not to work out.

"Some women skip a certain day's workout because there aren't any wealthy men present at the gym. When they are certain that rich guys will be present, they dress provocatively, ready to catch their prey. Indeed, some women visit the gym more to court wealthy men than to work out."

Deo says the gym is a place where people connect and network, so some ladies go to the gym to look for wealthy men.

David Mlope, a personal trainer at Zola255 with over 25 years of experience in training people all around the world, shares a different opinion.

It's no women's fault

He says people need to understand that workout attire is typically form-fitting and that it's no one’s fault that it’s designed that way.

“Gym attire is usually stretchy and tight because it is sports clothing. People find it sexy because they aren’t used to such outfits.”

The trainer says one of the reasons this type of attire is recommended is because it’s comfortable and shows progress when you're sweating during a workout. It also drains away the sweat.

Loveness Bakari agrees, saying that since they are stretchy, women's workout clothes tightly follow the contours of the women’s bodies, making them look attractive.

“Men need to bear in mind that our gym clothes are specifically made that way for comfort purposes. Even though they appear tight to you, they are actually comfortable for us, and that’s why we wear them,” she says.

Patricia Temu shares the same sentiment, saying there’s no harm in staying fashionable while working out, which is why she makes sure she buys stylish gym wear so she may look good even when she's working out.

Kawe resident Gerald Thomas thinks that women need to stop their excuses about comfort when it comes to gym attire.

“We are not stupid, ladies. Let’s be honest here: what you call comfy makes you feel sexy, which is your goal. Sometimes you wear those skimpy dresses to seduce the guys you find attractive at the gym. I think it’s time you stopped playing games,” he notes.

Gerald says he’s noticed that some women dress the way they do deliberately. “What comfort can someone have in wearing a top that exposes their boobs?"

“Some women wear workout gear that is so revealing that you feel uncomfortable looking their way. They usually have everything supposed to be private on show,” he shares.

Losing focus and concentration

Daniel Victor, another gymgoer, shares that the kind of clothes that women wear to the gym sometimes make him lose focus.

“Imagine a stunning lady walking by, flaunting her curvaceous figure in her tight yoga pants as you are lifting a heavy weight... I don’t understand the kind of comfort people are talking about here because there are loose, comfy clothes that are suitable for exercising,” says Daniel.

According to him, the so-called comfy clothes are sometimes worn outside the gym as casual wear, which he thinks is not a good idea because they’re specifically designed for exercise only.

“Tights designed to be worn outdoors during workouts may not be the ideal choice for a casual trip to the mall or work, unless one is an athlete or coach. They are well-suited for gym sessions, where their functionality shines,” he adds.

Yusuph Yassin, a resident of Makumbusho, says, “Sometimes we fear bringing our spouses here because of this. I once came across a girl wearing the tightest yoga pants I had ever seen, which clearly showed her body contours. I consider this immodest."

His message to women; “We, men, love you so much, and we agree you should wear comfortable clothing, but don’t get embarrassed if men at the gym stare or wink at you.”

Yusuph is sure not all women at the gym dress the way they do to get men to notice them; therefore, some may find men’s stares offensive.

Salma Abdallah thinks what women wear during exercise is meant to draw attention, as she sees no reason why women need to wear sexy clothing to the gym.

“I think it’s natural for women to crave male attention; we want to show them how we are blessed with beautiful bodies. I believe you can wear sports outfits that are comfy and don’t display your body that much. I pity men,” says Salma with a chuckle.

If you've got it, flaunt it 

A student at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Rosemary Hafidhi, says she doesn’t care what people think about her sexy gym wear. She feels proud to show off her toned figure, having shed a lot of weight through exercise.

“I usually wear stylish gym attire to show everybody how proud I am of all my hard work. I look much better now compared to when I started working out two years ago. If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” explains Rose.

Jenny Jackson, also a UDSM student, says it’s all in the men's minds; when men see something, they always want it.

“Women should wear what makes them feel good. If we are all at the gym to work out, why should someone feel they are being seduced? If you have a problem seeing women’s clothes, then consider exercising at home, period,” she advises.

Witty Mdigo, a fitness enthusiast at Ukonga Mombasa, says tight outfits show how one is progressing. “So guys, if you enjoy looking and the ladies enjoy wearing that and nobody is getting hurt, then it shouldn’t matter at all.”

While David Mlope, the trainer at Zola255, advises gym-goers to get used to this type of clothing, he also recommends that women always consider the environment when choosing what to wear for a workout.

“Considering the environment you are in is crucial because there are workout clothes designed for indoor and outdoor use. Often, indoor attire may appear more revealing, giving off a sexy vibe, but in reality, these are the appropriate workout clothes.”

He says there are women-only gymswhere women are free to wear whatever they want. “I understand it’s not our culture, but our women have adopted this from abroad due to increased fitness motivation locally,” he explains.

David says women need to be more serious instead of going to the gym to show off.

“Imagine a lady going to the gym with full make-up, and you wonder why that is necessary. I think people need to consider taking their workouts seriously,” advises David.

The gym attire debate raises questions about cultural differences, motivations, and perceptions.

While some view it as a move for personal gain, others argue that it’s for comfort, self-expression, and the right to wear what one pleases in a fitness setting.