Fitness Center Attire FAQ

The Fitness Center has received questions from students regarding our fitness attire policies. See the information below for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

  • Is the attire policy for the Fitness Center new?

    The Fitness Center has required "appropriate athletic attire" as a policy since the facility opened in 2002. The policy specifies the types of shirts or tops that are permissible along with guidelines for footwear and shorts/pants. While an attire policy is not new, all of our policies are revisited annually. Language in this policy was updated in April 2016 and will be examined again this summer to incorporate feedback from the W&L community.

  • What is the actual policy?

    The full fitness attire policy can be found at and features a graphic that shows the types of shirts and tops that are permitted.

  • Why is such a policy necessary?

    This policy is for personal hygiene, health, and safety. While no safety concern can ever be eliminated completely, we believe that reducing incidences of skin-to-skin and skin-to-equipment contact by increasing the clothing barrier can, along with other practices, assist in managing the risk. Bacteria and fungus are the most likely pathogens to be passed from skin-to-equipment contact in athletic settings. We also encourage all patrons to clean the equipment before and after each use. Infections that can spread without such attention includes bacterial staph, MRSA and fungal ringworm among others. Please see the statement from our University Physician on skin infections for more information.

  • Are there other concerns besides skin disease?

    Yes. Reducing skin contact with equipment protects the equipment. Perspiration can damage the components and frames of various equipment as well as the upholstery. The longevity of equipment is an important consideration in keeping students safe as well as being good stewards of student funds.

  • Are tank tops allowed?

    Yes. Unlike many other college and university facilities that allow only t-shirts, the Fitness Center does allow tank tops provided they comply with the policy. Sleeveless shirts with the arm holes or gaps open below the bottom of the shoulder blades or shirts that expose parts of the abdominal area and/or rib cage are prohibited.

  • What about "stringers", "racer backs", "y-backs" and other specific types of clothing?

    No clothing is specifically "banned" in our policy. If a top does not expose areas specified in the policy, it is allowed. Since there is such a wide variety of fitness clothing on the market, we reserve the right to use discretion and make determinations on a case by case basis.

  • Is the policy discriminatory or sexist?

    The policy is gender neutral. Fitness Center employees aim to be consistent in their administration of the policy and are receiving additional training on the proper enforcement of the policy beginning in spring term.

  • What is the protocol when a student's attire does not complying?

    Our staff is directed to use positive customer service in finding a solution that allows the patron to continue working out. T-shirts are available at the equipment desk, and staff members make these shirts available to anyone who may need them. We find that the overwhelming majority of our patrons are in full compliance with our policies. We do, however, reserve the right to ask anyone whose attire does not meet the policy standards to discontinue his or her workout until he or she is in compliance.

  • How has this policy changed?

    Various aspects of the existing policy were updated in April 2016. For instance, Fitness Center student staff had been previously trained on what was considered to be appropriate attire in order to promote a clean and safe environment. But we did find that the policy definition was ambiguous to both users and staff. We are working to remedy that situation and to provide clearer guidance. In addition, the athletics and recreation staff was in the process of evaluating the attire policy when recent confusion arose over the purpose of the policy and how it was enforced. While the Fitness Center prides itself on having a clean facility and invests significant personnel and budget to keep the facility safe, infectious skin diseases continue to be a concern in athletic facilities.

  • Do other universities have similar policies?

    It is standard practice to have attire policies at most university recreation centers. While the language differs from school to school, most university facilities have such policies, including Mount Holyoke College, Radford University, Johns Hopkins, the University of Rochester, Catholic University, Florida State, Akron, UNC Asheville, and Portland State, to name only a few.

  • How can I give feedback if I have concerns?

    The Fitness Center welcomes and encourages feedback via phone, e-mail or by visiting our office. We are committed to working together to provide a safe, clean, quality, dependable and fun facility for the entire W&L community. We would encourage any W&L student or employee to contact members of the Athletics Department's professional staff to discuss any of our policies now or anytime in the future.