Saturday, February 8, 2014

The concept of "Workout Wear Fridays"

I recently came across an interesting article from the Wellness section of the Washington Post that was written about a month and a half ago. The article, entitled "The Case For Workout Wear Friday", was written by Vicky Hallet. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, it can largely be summed up to this:

"The basic premise is that people in fitness gear are more likely to exercise — or at least to think about it."

I also came across a cheeky rebuttal to the idea of workout wear Fridays written by Jessica Grose for Slate Magazine. Her opinion is as follows:

"It’s Friday! You know, the workday that lies between you and a full 48 hours of leisure. And the day that you wear yoga pants to work, exercise with your colleagues, and then sit in your stanky workout clothes until you clock out at 6."
Photo Credit: Betabrand

I'm of two minds about this concept of workout wear Fridays: I like it in theory, but not as much in practicality. I'm all for promoting better health and increased exercise. In that respect, maybe this isn't such a bad idea. One major argument for this idea is that healthier people use their health insurance much less often. This could lead to companies saving money.

The article from the Washington Post quotes fashion consultant and author Lauren A. Rothman:
"But on the off chance that Workout Wear Friday gets the go-ahead, she’d want to establish some ground rules. For starters, nothing ripped, faded or stained. If you’re wearing pants that are tight around the crotch or backside, you’ll also need a looser-fitted cover-up, such as a jacket or sweater, she says. And please don’t show too much skin. Any exercise attire for the office has to be an upgrade from what you’d throw on to go to cycling class. “Match your shoes to the outfit. It should almost be equivalent to a suit. Don’t just hodgepodge it,” Rothman decrees. Even tiny details matter. (“An ankle sock is best — there’s no need for excess sock,” she opines.)"
Photo Credit: The Washington Post

Hrmm, office dress code for active wear. Okay then, that seems reasonable enough. But there are a lot of workplaces where workout wear Fridays, even with a dress code, would not be accepted. Some examples include... Any place with a strict professional dress code such as law firms, banks, and political offices. Any place with a dress code that requires safety considerations like construction sites or burning buildings. Any job that requires a specific uniform like police officers. If you think the above picture is a little silly, try to imagine your lawyer defending you in court in sweat pants because it's Friday? Or how about the firefighter rescuing you in sneakers because it's Friday?

Frankly, I don't think the idea will take off (even with the potential to reduce health care costs). Of course I could be wrong, I'm sure the same was thought of casual Fridays when that idea was first introduced and it's pretty standard in offices these days. Even in schools. When I was working as a teacher, if you put a dollar in the jar in the office on Fridays, you could wear jeans and sneakers. Okay, so I'm picturing myself down the road...back to work, with both my kids in school full time...and workout wear Fridays is a thing at that point. workout wear is a lot of neon and dangling ribbons. That probably wasn't what the fashion consultant was thinking of when she came up with her idea of a dress code. Then again, she doesn't expressly say it has to be lots of black... Let's review:

1) "nothing ripped, faded or stained" I wouldn't show up to Zumba (much less to work) in anything faded or stained. I mean honestly! Ripped though...Well I guess that would rule out shirts that are specifically cut up for Zumba. I have a couple of those, but personally, I have to be in the right mood to want to wear one so that restriction wouldn't be a problem for me.

2) "if you’re wearing pants that are tight around the crotch or backside, you’ll also need a looser-fitted cover-up, such as a jacket or sweater" Okay, the pants part of this absolutely wouldn't be an issue for me since I'm not one to wear leggings to Zumba. I'm a cargoes girl through and through. But I think the cover-up idea would be necessary just the same since schools (like most workplaces) don't approve of the sleeveless tops I tend to prefer.

3) "please don’t show too much skin" Sleeveless tops, you see? But the real meaning in that statement is no bare mid-drifts. I couldn't agree more, it -is- a workplace after all. There are women out there who would wear a sports bra to Zumba with nothing over it...but I don't happen to be one of them.

4) "any exercise attire for the office has to be an upgrade from what you’d throw on to go to cycling class" This one would be tricky. There's no such thing as "dress cargoes". As if there's such a thing as "dress yoga pants"? Actually yeah, there are...refer to the first picture and have a look for yourself. Those have a faux zipper and faux pockets as well as real belt loops. Oh, and they cost nearly $80 (sold here).

5) “match your shoes to the outfit. It should almost be equivalent to a suit. Don’t just hodgepodge it” Neon cargoes? Neon shoes. No problem.

6) “an ankle sock is best — there’s no need for excess sock” Agreed. Especially with capri length pants.

Given that it (mostly) adheres to the dress code, would it be practical for me to wear Zumba clothing to my day job as a teacher? No, probably not. Ribbons are awesome for Zumba but you know what? They get caught in car doors. They also accidentally get wet when they slide into the tub while you're giving your two year old his bath. You know what else? Cargoes aren't warm! I'm sure, dear readers, that you are all going "Duh! How many times has she said 'cooler is better when it comes to Zumba clothes'?" Okay, fair enough. But when I said that I was talking about when you are in the process of actually dancing! I've learned this year that the same thing that keeps me from overheating while dancing is the same thing that makes me freeze when I'm standing outside. On nights I go out to class, I change for Zumba before I go get our oldest son off the bus.

***Side note: Should I open a betting pool for what age he'll be when he finally asks me to stop coming to the bus stop dressed for Zumba? I've got dibs on 8. Heh.***

I always take the car to the bus stop if it's cold and snowy or raining so I can wait inside, but I have to get out to meet him. It seems to take a kindergartener five minutes (from the time the bus stops) to collect his things, then climb down, and then finally cross the street to me. It might not seem like a long time, but that's five minutes of the wind whipping my ribbons around and cutting right through the fabric of my cargoes. When you're used to only being outside in winter for just a minute between your car and the studio/gym/school/church, five minutes seems like a really long time. So even just thinking about having to do recess duty on the schoolyard in cargoes in winter makes me shiver. Never. Going to. Happen.

Question: If your workplace decided to try out the idea of workout wear Fridays, would you do it? For me, as much as I love (and I mean really LOVE) my Zumba clothes, it's a resounding no. As an elementary school teacher, it just wouldn't be practical.

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