Naked Fitness Pros and Cons

Would you strip down to your birthday suit?

View of man practicing yoga from behind
amana productions inc/Getty Images

Believe it or not, there's a CrossFit gym in Denmark that offers a nude CrossFit workout session, Frankly, this sounds risky—just think of all the things that could go wrong: a poorly thrown medicine ball, a barbell yanked up at the wrong angle...and all those jump rope double-unders. Yikes!

Truthfully, naked CrossFit probably won't catch on. CrossFit athletes add tape and guards to their hands, shins, and forearms to help prevent injuries, so it's fairly impractical to strip down before such a workout.

That said, naked fitness has been around for years, and it's a concept that's growing in popularity, mostly for its shock value.

Naked Swimming

Swimming naked at a public pool might raise eyebrows today, but until the 1960s it was commonplace and even required for men to swim in the nude at swimming pools. The original requirements were based on function and cleanliness—the wool fibers of swimsuits would quickly clog the old-school filtration systems, so going without was better for facility maintenance. And later, before the widespread use of chlorine and UV to sanitize the water, men would undergo a total-body physical inspection to ensure they didn't have any skin diseases or open sores that could spread disease among swimmers.

When fabrics and sanitation systems improved, the requirement to swim naked was lifted, leading to today's rules requiring swimmers to wear appropriate swim apparel at all times.

That said, swimming is actually one of the only naked fitness experiences that actually makes some logical sense. When swimming, you're not using (or sweating on) shared equipment and the very nature of water reduces the likelihood of injury. It may be difficult to find public swimming pools that offer naked swim sessions, but if you have access to a private pool and you're interested in giving naked exercise a try, why not dive right in?

Naked Yoga

Naked yoga is another nude form of exercise that seems to be growing. From a functional standpoint, it makes some sense. Most yogis perform exercise on their own mats—no shared equipment is used—and there's also limited opportunity for injury to private areas. Advocates for naked yoga claim that it's a freeing and confidence-boosting experience that helps you see your form and deepen your practice.

Naked yoga studios, like Bold & Naked, are popping up in major cities, while online and DVD classes are available to those who want to experience the trend from the privacy of their own homes. Frankly, it seems...vulnerable...to do a downward facing dog in a group setting, but for those who feel comfortable with the experience, it's nice to know there are options available.

Naked Cycling

If anything ever seemed like a bad idea, it's naked cycling. Even with padded cycling pants, a long bike ride can lead to serious pain in the nether regions. And yet, naked cycling is a thing. Kinda a big thing, in fact. So big that there's a World Naked Bike Ride hosted in 70 cities from 20 countries around the world each year. Apparently it's a time for people to get together to celebrate the human form while protesting the world's dependence on oil, but really it just sounds like an opportunity for chaffing and sunburn.

Naked Running Events

Logically, if naked cycling is a thing, naked running should be, too. Which, of course, it is. Just check out some of the most popular naked races, like the Mud, Sweat and Boobs Naked 5k and the Bare Buns Fun Run.

On the surface, naked running certainly seems like a better choice, given that you don't have an uncomfortable seat wedged between your legs. But then again, you have to consider all the bouncing that takes place during high-impact activities like running. If you're a well-endowed woman (or man), naked running probably isn't all that comfortable without some added support.

If you're dying to get in on the action, you may want to ease your way into naked running by trying the Cupid's Undie Run hosted in cities around the United States in February. You still get to strip down without going completely nude, ensuring sports bras and underwear help hold everything in place.

Also, it's not advised to try naked running or cycling on the streets (or in a public gym) outside of a planned event. Generally speaking, public nudity is culturally frowned upon, so stripping down on your own is pretty much a recipe for a naked trip to your local jail cell. Gross.

Naked Gyms

Back to good ol' naked CrossFit and another other similar naked gym experiences.

There are some basic problems with the concept. First, it's quite possibly unsafe. There's a reason why closed-toe shoes are required at most gyms, and there's a reason why women are encouraged to wear supportive sports bras. And thinking about the guy who accidentally drops a dumbbell in his lap haphazardly is just cringe-worthy. It's not that clothing is inherently protective from accidents or injuries, but it does add an extra buffer from potential dangers, all while holding the "wobbly bits" close to the body.

It's also worth adding that clothing helps protect gym equipment from its users, and users from other users. The sweat and oils on people's skin can damage upholstery on benches and weight machines, and with the growing incidence of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) spreading in gyms, the less skin-to-equipment contact there is, the better. Not to mention any other contagious skin infection that could be spread through shared equipment contact.

But if seeing your body in all its stripped-down glory can help you appreciate your musculature during exercise, by all means, that's your choice. If you really want to see what your body looks like in a deep squat, there's no reason not to strip down, it's just a better all-around idea to do it at home.

Continue Reading