In Defense of Yoga Pants
  • February 19, 2018
  • An opinion piece about yoga pants has recently taken the Internet by storm. The piece questions the purpose and practicality of yoga pants in the gym, and it also questions the people who wear said pants. Upon reading this piece, my head started to swirl with so many thoughts, I filled an entire page with word vomit before I could even begin to write my own response. And really, after weeding through line after line of my own chicken scratch handwriting, I realized that my response could actually be summarized with just one word: Why?

    Before I pose that question, however, I do have a few things to say in the defense of yoga pants (which I will now begin to refer to as leggings… because let’s be honest. I only do yoga once or twice a month).

    In defense of yoga pants

    First and foremost, leggings are very practical.

    I do a lot of high intensity workouts, and I sweat a lot. Form fitting leggings that stay put and immediately absorb my sweat as I’m switching between treadmill sprints and dumbbell overhead presses are imperative to the success of my workout. When I do stay true to their namesake and practice yoga in my yoga pants, they stay put and support me through every stretch, bend, and bind in ways that other pants can’t.

    And honestly, I buy them because I think they’re cute, and I know I’ll get excited to put them on and actually go to a workout. What’s not practical about that?

    Nothing gets me out of bed like a new outfit.  

    Last weekend, my husband bought me the greatest Valentine’s Day gift to date: a matching top, sports bra, and leggings. He wanted to say both, “Happy Valentine’s Day”, and “Good luck”, at an important group fitness audition I had the following weekend. Every morning last week, I woke up with excitement that I was another day closer to wearing the outfit. When the day finally came, the pre-audition nerves were a bit more settled by how confident and strong the outfit made me feel.

    Confident and “hot” do not have to be synonymous.

    Since I was a teenager, I have dedicated countless hours to mastering a full-range push-up, squat, tricep dip… you name it. At age 18, I was lifting heavy weights in an effort to build muscle as the media was trying to influence me to shrink. I am addicted to seeing my strength progress, to discovering what else my body is capable of. I wake up with confidence each day not because of how I look, but because of how I feel.

    This all came into fruition for me when I was physically attacked on my way home one night. Thankfully, I was strong enough to come out almost completely unharmed. The sleeveless shirt I sport at the gym that shows muscle tone and a scar on my right shoulder isn’t meant to prove to anyone that I am hot. It’s an affirmation to myself that I should feel proud.  

    The only people I’m seeking attention from at the gym are my girlfriends.

    The highlight of my day and my week is meeting up with my friends at a studio for a killer workout. We go to the gym for the support and empowerment that we exchange, not for attention from men.  #everythingisbetterwithfriends. Enough said.

    The evolution of the women’s exercise industry is %#@!%&* EXCITING!

    And can we just talk about the fact that athletic clothing designers have been dedicating time and effort to FEMALE ATHLETES?! Like… let’s just let that settle in for a moment. People are sitting around tables trying to figure out the best clothing for women to wear while they run long distances, hike mountains, lift barbells, hold crow poses… to them, the possibilities for women are endless. The female demographic is making a statement, and at least ONE sector of society is listening. Leggings may be the current fashion trend, just as Adidas sweats were a leading trend in the 90’s. And they will probably be replaced soon by the next trend.

    What’s not going to be replaced is the momentum and voice that women are building together.

    Which leads me to my initial question… Why?

    Women are continuing to join together to conquer the many uphill battles we face. Despite the level of strength, confidence, and for a lack of a better word, guts it will take, we are making it clear that we are not backing down.

    Unfortunately, one of the obstacles women face is judgment by other women. The intentions may start out as good-willed, coming from a place of concern. And yet, it is never okay to tell a thin woman to eat a cheeseburger. It is never okay to tell a working mother how she should parent her child. It is never okay to tell a woman wearing leggings at the gym that she is just trying to look hot for the surrounding men. These statements negate the message we have been relentlessly yelling: that we are strong, more than capable, and we can make the best choices for ourselves without the opinions or interventions of others.

    So, I’m still asking myself… why would someone judge someone else at the gym? Why would someone put down others in a place where we are all striving to build strength? Whether the woman sweating next to you is wearing sweats or leggings or a black leotard, hot pink tights and leg warmers, she doesn’t deserve to be judged or questioned. She deserves a smile and a high-five.

    So here’s to you, reader. Here’s a virtual smile and a high-five. Always know that we at aSweatLife support you, and we can’t wait to sweat next to you, no matter what you’re wearing. 

    About Ashley McCullough

    Ashley McCullough has been an active advocate of weight lifting, taco eating, city living and not running for as long as she can remember. A lifelong Notre Dame fan, she graduated from Saint Mary’s College in 2012 with a degree in Elementary Education. By day, you can find her organizing objects by color, singing, chanting, dancing around, and reading with her kindergarten class. After the school bell rings, well, not much changes. She continues to do all that. But she also thoroughly enjoys conversing and interacting with adults at group fitness classes and #Sweatworking events. Ashley was born and raised in the suburbs and moved to the city 4 years ago. She never plans to leave… unless she is able to find a beach house on a mountain in a major industrial city on a private island. Then she just might.

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