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Head Butts and Yoga Butts: What works in the gym, doesn’t always work out of the gym

Posted May 17 2012 12:33am

This, my friends, is the Rear Naked Choke in action. (I think, feel free to correct me if it isn’t.) Clearly Golem in front is not amused but the guy in back is totally laughing. See? Funny.

The Rear Naked Choke Hold came back to haunt me tonight. There I was, sitting in on a jujitsu demonstration as part of my attempt to try out every program Lifetime Fitness offers before my month in fit heaven expires, when I was yet again the only person in the entire room snickering like a 12-year-old boy*. For the record, it’s called “naked” because it means the person doing the submission hold isn’t using anything but their arm to do the choking portion of the program. And it’s still really really funny. I know, I know this is serious windpipe-crushing stuff and MMA fighters are some of the best athletes on the planet. (Truly, they are.) And yet: go stand in front of the mirror and try to say “I’m going to mount you and put you in a rear naked choke hold until you submit” with a straight face. Can’t be done. (And no this was not a live reading of 50 Shades of Grey although if you haven’t seen it yet you must check out Ellen’s reading . Hilarious! And clean!)

Anyhow, my point. As I sat watching what was a very impressive jujitsu demonstration I realized all over again how many things that we do in a gym environment totally wouldn’t fly anywhere else. Just this morning, for instance, as I tried to work out the knot in my right butt cheek courtesy of my corrective exercises by rolling all over a medicine ball, I felt someone looking at me. Someone who was waiting for the ball. Sheepishly I rolled it over and mumbled, “Sorry, I’m done molesting it now. Your turn!” Or the time I had an entire conversation with a friend while I held bridge pose (lay on your back, hips up in the air like you’re petitioning the Goddess of Fertility) and neither one of us so much as blinked. Context is king.

And hey, what happens in the gym stays in the gym, right? (No, no it doesn’t actually. But that’s a post for another day.) But there’s one area that I do have a really hard time transitioning from gym to street and vice versa: my workout clothes. No it’s not a fashion issue (at least not that anyone has told me) but rather one of propriety. In case you haven’t noticed, gym clothes take the definition of “clothes” a lot looser than, say, sportswear. (Okay, what is “sportswear” anyhow? I always hear about it in couture collections – as in “This is Balenciaga’s sportswear line! OOh! Aah!” – and yet they never look the least bit sporty. At all. I don’t get it.)

Like a lot of girls, I usually wear super-tight capri leggings to workout in and while many of those girls seem to be totally comfortable heading to the preschool recital still wearing them, I always feel a little… exposed. It’s weird – it doesn’t bother me a bit in the gym but drop me in the middle of a suburban Target store and all of sudden I get shy. I mean, it kinda looks like you left the house in your tights and forgot your skirt, right? Then there are gym shorts in all their various permutations: running, split, booty, compression, bike and missing. (True story: once saw a guy at my gym cycling in a polo shirt, tighty-whities and black dress socks. Sorry, enough with the random asides.)

Before you call me a prude, I’m not the only person who has these qualms. Several schools and colleges have banned their students from wearing “yoga pants” and one school even famously banned the students’ moms from lolling about in their Lulus in the carpool line because they were “too revealing.” Some women deny that the pants show any more than other clothes but the fact that there’s even a whole website dedicated to girls wearing yoga pants (note: if you click through you will want to punch someone in the face within 5 seconds) makes me think they’re in the minority. Here, let Kim K demonstrate the perils of Kapris for you:

This is also a good demo of how gray is so much less flattering than black. Although I still own a pair.

There’s also the flipside: while the pants may show too much of a pretty young thing, they also show too much of, well, the rest of the population. Poor Bryce Dallas Howard got eviscerated this past weekend for daring to wear yoga pants out of the house and not be a size 0. (The woman JUST popped out a BABY for pete’s sake. Post-partum women get a total pass on yoga pants. And pajama pants. Heck, I loved anything with an elastic waist.)

Image and exceptional commentary from Jezebel

For myself, I have come to a strange compromise that involves so many layers that it makes me glad I spent all those hours playing 3-D Tetris in college (see mom, it DID come in handy!). For example, tonight. I wore my gym leggings with a baggy tee over the top for a quick meeting at the gym for an article, then I threw on a cotton skirt and a fitted jacket over the top of those to have dinner at a restaurant with my family, after which I had to run back to the gym for the aforementioned jujitsu class (late) and I pulled off my skirt as I raced down the hallway with my running shoes untied — causing one little boy to gasp “are those your underwear?!” Finally I threw the jacket back on and ran to the church to pick up my boys from cub scouts, realizing belatedly that I’d left the skirt in my gym bag and the last place you want to be essentially pants-less is in a church. Basically, I’m like Superman. If Superman were a flasher.

How do you feel about yoga pants outside of the gym – appropriate or not? For those of who get shy like me (and I’m not knocking those of you who don’t!) what do you do? Always shower and change at the gym? Shimmy into a new shirt at a stoplight? And what do you do with your sweat-soaked sports bra that is now seeping dampness through the new shirt?

*I would like to note that the men teaching the technique remained very professional through the whole thing and politely ignored me as I tried desperately to remember what real grown-ups do.

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