If you’ve got both some fitness-oriented New Year’s resolutions and some “love the skin you’re in” ones, here’s something that might pique your interest: A gym in New York is offering naked fitness classes in 2018. Hanson Fitness, a gym known for its celebrity clientele, will be kicking off the new year with classes featuring a “total body workout that uses your body weight as resistant [sic] to work the glute, butt, legs, and core,” according to the class’ Facebook Event page — and you’ll be doing it all naked. (Or, if you prefer, while wearing nude-colored underwear; the class will allow it if it makes you more comfortable.) Naturally, news about this naked workout is all over the internet, because… well, it’s the internet. Discussing nudity is one of its favorite pastimes.
The first class will be on Friday, Jan. 5 at Hanson Fitness’ Soho location; according to Facebook, it begins at 6 p.m. and goes until 8 p.m. Said founder Harry Hanson to The Independent, “Our approach makes sure our members get and stay in the absolute best shape, and our new naked personal fitness sessions are no exception.” He added, “This development brings with it a range of fitness and health benefits and allows our members to have a little cheeky fun in the process!”
Are there really benefits to working out naked, though? Is there anything dramatically different about exercising sans clothing, as opposed to exercising wearing workout gear?
According to Hanson Fitness, the answer is yes. “Working out without clothes provides a number of benefits to your exercise including skin breathing, the release of endorphins due to Vitamin D from sunlight, and complete body awareness,” states the gym’s Facebook Event page for the class. Additionally, in ancient Greece, much athletic activity was undertaken nude, a fact which is often cited in favor of working out minus clothing.
Nor is Hanson Fitness the only one to subscribe to this viewpoint. For one, personal trainer, coach, and powerlifter Robert Herbst recently told Laurie L. Dove of How Stuff Works, “Clothing can hinder performance if it causes a person to overheat, if it is so tight that it inhibits range of motion or restricts blood flow, or if it is so loose that it gets in the way of or catches on equipment.” Herbst also noted, as Hanson Fitness does, that taking care of your skin while exercising matters: “For skin health, one does not want clothing that will chafe or irritate, or allow sweat to pool where fungus or bacteria can grow,” he said.
What’s more, in 2014, Carey Goldberg of WBUR spoke to psychotherapist Jean Fain about how looking at ourselves naked in the mirror more generally might be good for us. “[By] seeing yourself as you really are, and not how you might like to be, you are committing a deliberate act of self-kindness,” said Fain. “You are actively appreciating how much more you are than the sum of your parts. Kindly seeing your body, your whole self, just as you are, it’s only a matter of time before you discover what research scientists have already discovered: that a little self-kindness and acceptance goes a long way toward feeling a lot more comfortable in your own skin.”
Combining this “active appreciation” with a workout, therefore, might help you not only feel more comfortable in your own skin, but also take caring for yourself seriously (if working out as a form of self-care is something that appeals to you). Obviously whether or not this is the case will depend on the kind of environment cultivated during your fitness classes or sessions; in one that’s generally body-positive and body image-positive, however, there might be some real benefits.
However, there are also benefits to working out with clothing, too — particularly when it comes to hygiene. Physician Alex Roher told How Stuff Works in 2014, “It is an urban legend that you should exercise naked, and [doing so] can lead to yeast and other bacterial infections as you have nothing to pull the moisture away from your skin.” Roher recommended “lightweight, breathable, sweat-wicking clothes” for working out to aid in solving the moisture issue. Additionally, it’s worth bearing in mind that there’s a lot of bacteria, fungi, and viruses on gym equipment; wearing closed-toe shoes and workout duds puts up a a helpful barrier between potential sources of infection and you.
For the curious, Hanson Fitness isn’t the first fitness center to offer naked workouts; naked yoga has been a thing for several years now, thanks to New York’s Bold & Naked yoga studio. But, hey, if a nude total body workout sounds like your jam, you can get in touch with Hanson Fitness via the email provided on the class’ Facebook Event page, or through the gym’s standard contact methods. New year, new you, right?
You do you, is what I'm saying.