Questions About Modesty and Fitness

So…sometimes I find myself mulling around some questions in my head and I’m curious what you guys think…one thing I’ve been thinking about is modesty and fitness.

questions about modesty and fitness


Does being fit mean you have the “right” to show off your body?

Does someone’s size mean they should or shouldn’t show off more?

Does working out mean you should or need to wear tighter clothes?

Does it make a difference where you are? You’re with your running group as opposed to your coworkers?

Does the weather matter? If it’s 90 degrees and humid is it okay to rock your run in your sports bra?

Do you think modesty and self confidence are related? I.e. Someone who is more self confident is more likely to be “showing off” their body; versus someone who is not as confident is more likely to be covering it up.  Or does being self confident mean you don’t “need” to show off your body…or is it all personal preference?

I’m really more curious about YOUR answers.  I think everyone is going to have different ones. Here are a few of mine.

To me, I was raised pretty conservatively (think Baptist) so shorts and a tank top are about as risqué of clothing as you will ever see me in.  Also, I’m in a slightly unique situation that my gym, work, and home are all basically the same place so yes, I may run (haha! accidental pun!) into my boss or coworkers at the gym or as I trot around my neighborhood which could be potentially awkward if I chose to run in my sports bra.


(Ooh look, a tank top! Those shoulders are coming out to play!)

Also, my husband’s opinion on modesty issues matters to me. I don’t want him to feel uncomfortable about something I leave the house in so I’ve let him have the final say about three particular modesty issues with fitness that I was on the fence about: running in sports bras, yoga pants/leggings outside of yoga, and running tights.  He ruled nay on all three.  I’d probably feel fine about all three in the right situation, but it’s not really that big of a deal to throw on a tank top or a pair of shorts over my running tights, even for a race day or “fitness” situation where it would be deemed appropriate by most people.


(Winter running=ultra modest running, the more layers the better!)

With that being said these are my choices and I’m comfortable with them. If you choose differently that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends or if we meet up and you’re still in your yoga pants that I’m judging you. I’ll probably just ask where you bought them because we all know you can always use more yoga pants.

As for showing off your body…what entails “showing off” I think varies widely from person to person. And honestly, if someone is fit (guy or gal) they don’t have to take off their shirt and flex to prove it—you can see it! To me, the most important showing off I do is when it’s just me and the mirror. Being happy with that reflection makes me happy. And wearing that confidence out everyday is how I show off to the world!

Weigh In!! Answer one of the above questions or just share your thoughts on fitness and modesty.

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  1. I think everyone should do what they are comfortable with based on how they feel and the situation. Personally I have no problem running in a sports bra and shorts outside. I wouldn’t do that at the gym because it is not allowed at the one I go to but if it was, it wouldn’t bother me there either. My bf doesn’t care what I wear as long as it makes me happy. So I just say do what you want!

    1. Great point! That’s interesting that it isn’t allowed at your gym…I don’t think I’ve ever heard of gym’s having standards like that, but then again, it’s been awhile since I’ve had a gym membership.

  2. I love that you’re addressing this topic. I’m increasingly alarmed at the trends in the fitness industry. I think “fitspiration” posts on Instagram and elsewhere often promote sex rather than fitness. I’m all for being fit and healthy and being confident and proud of the way you look, but I can do that fully dressed. I personally would never exercise out in public in less than a tank top and shorts.

    1. That’s a great point–I think “sexy sells” so that’s just what companies sell and people post sometimes. It IS alarming though that this is often being packaged and sold as “fitness” and “active lifestyle”, especially to the younger generation. I’m glad for great organizations like Girls on the Run that use fitness to teach self esteem and empowerment to younger girls.

  3. I’m with you also! I do think being confident in your body perhaps would make “showing what ya got” more of something that crosses your mind (i.e. I’m not yet at my ideal size – though I’m actively working on both losing weight and also appreciating where my body is right now – but because of that, I wouldn’t even *think* of running around even in shorts..not because I think it’s immodest, but just because I don’t feel comfortable yet with just shorts. But shorts/tank top would be as “wild” as I’d get. I know modesty does mean different things to everyone, and if you have a husband/father and look to God for direction, that has to be weighed in as well.

    1. TOTALLY get you! There is definitely a level of confidence required for certain articles of clothing–no matter what your size. I think it’s interesting that there is probably more judgment of someone who has “a ways to go” showing more than if a fitter person does, which doesn’t seem fair. And it definitely is true that everyone defines “modesty” differently–which is totally okay!

  4. Thanks for your post. I enjoy reading it… I also grew up very conservative with my clothes… I have only started working out the past couple of years and because I sweat alot and get itchy, i wear less clothes than my mother would probably like. 😉 I workout at home when everyone is sleeping so it doesnt really matter much what i wear, but i have a hubby and two boys who i want to dress modestly around. when i workout at home i wear tights, capris, tank tops etc. I never wear shorts above the knees (including running shorts) and i never just wear my sports bra! when i workout in public (like last night i went to a zumba class) i wore a short sleeve exercise top instead of a tank top. anytime i go running outside i make sure my tshirt or tank top is high enough to cover my sports bra. I never do exercise videos in front of my boys where the women are half dressed b/c i dont feel its appropriate for them to see it. i HATE seeing all these half dressed “fitness” pictures on instagram. im all for showing progress and being proud of your body; but i dont want to see people in their underwear or string bikinis. i dont think it matters what size you are-fat, skinny, fit-cover up to some degree or be modest for pictures. i dont want to see your bedroom attire or sex appeal photos. yuck! The only reason i take pics in my sports bra and shorts is for fitness pictures for beachbody fitness programs and i rarely will post those. 🙂

  5. LOL i got on my soap box and not sure if i even answered your questions… 😉

    i personally work out in tighter clothes b/c i dont like having to adjust or pull my waist band up or have baggy clothes. but i would never wear them in public, outside or running errands b/c they are tight forming to my body. whether im 250 or 150, no one needs to see my body curves that closely!

    modesty is all individual i think. I would dress modestly regardless of weather and whether im around either gender. i cover up more around males and in public.

    self confidence may have a little to do with it… i know i wear tighter more colorful things now that I’m smaller than I use to; but still try to wear modest clothes regardless of where i am! fitness clothes or street clothes. IF i do want to wear yoga pants in public b/c i haven’t washed my jeans i always wear long sweaters to cover my butt.

    people may feel like they have the right to show off their body, but i have the right to not have to see your whole body! cover up!! its very embarrassing when i see a woman or man dressed with hardly anything on, especially when i’m with my family.

    1. Lol I am just a 21 year old male wondering if I am crazy for being immediately turned away from a girl who does not show modesty in the gym. Personally for me, I am Christian man who wants a wife, (if the Lord will it) , who is modest in speech and dress. Modest is the hottest is a little corny to me, but people have no clue how attractive a modest women is.

      1. I don’t think that’s crazy. Like I said, I feel like it’s an ongoing conversation between a couple and you want to be in alignment on it (or at least willing to both compromise) in your dating relationship.

  6. I was raised Baptist too, so I was taught to dress modestly. You won’t see me out running in just a sports bra, no matter what the temp is outside. I don’t want to attract unwanted attention while I’m out there. I always ask my husband’s opinion on things too. Modest is definitely hottest!!

    1. Yeah, on the sports bra front I did once overhear two teenage guys (when I was a social worker) observe a girl running with what I would consider a decent, full coverage sports bra on and shorts. It was awkward. And then I gave them a long speech on respecting women…but they were too busy staring. 😛

  7. Great post! I’m always in a sports bra when I run on my home treadmill, but there’s no way I’d do that in public. I do wear yoga pants and tight tank tops to my Barre3 classes, but that’s because we’re asked to do that. Plus there are no boys at Barre3 class! But I have to admit that on the weekends I will totally rock leggings and long shirts/sweaters. It’s just too comfy to give up!

    1. Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about rocking yoga pants at a class–that’s what they are made for! And weekends…and comfiness…and heaven…

    1. I love them too–I just throw a pair of shorts or capris on over them–since it’s cold anyways it’s just more layers to keep me warm!

  8. Whatever anyone wants to wear is fine with me. There are those situations where you may wonder why a person made a particular choice, but it doesn’t much matter to me. I’ve always been pretty self-conscious so it was a huge step for me to wait compression pants and a tank out of the house for a run. I always felt awkward for people to see me run, let alone not completely covered in lose clothing. Having my kiddos totally wiped out some of that self-consciousness, and I figure People only see me for a minute and then I’m GONE! (Except that I’m one of the slowest runners ever!)

    Visiting from SITS!

    1. Yeah, I’m not opposed to anyone wearing whatever they want…I think it’s just interesting how we all arrive to what we want and feel comfortable and confident in!

  9. Interesting topic. I agree a bit with Kristin, having kids totally got rid of any self consciousness I may have had. I don’t like the idea of showing off my body and I do yoga covered up, but when it’s summertime, I swim several times a day and I don’t care one little bit about who sees me in my swimsuit…or maybe I do care a bit, but I’m not going to change my outfit or my attitude because of my self-consciousness. To me it’s all about functionality. Too many clothes in hot weather or certain kinds of activities can be a detriment to your activity, focus and efficiency. I think the naked body is far more modest than a lot of purposely revealing outfits and while I’m not judging people who dress that way, I am judging the marketing trends of fitness. I’d rather walk around naked than walk around with shorts with my butt hanging out of them, but that’s just me. Doesn’t seem comfortable or useful. (visiting from SITS)

    1. Great points, Mera! I think most people are just trying to be as functional as possible with their workout wear, but you’re right those that choose the booty shorts and pushup sports bras do so because they’re available from a market that seems to be selling us all on an overly sexualized view of the human body. Sad.

  10. I used a hotel gym over our Christmas vacation and it was so hot and humid I thought I would fall out if I didn’t take my shirt off. I’ve run for a year and a half including in 100 degrees and it was the first time I ever did that. And it felt weird even though there was no one else in the workout room. More power to people that can run without a shirt in just their sports bra but I felt really weird about it.

    1. Yeah, those hot, humid summer days make it very appealing. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it, but I’m sure it would depend on the situation–like if I was surrounded by other runners at a race vs. trotting around my neighborhood. I’d also have to worry about tanning my stomach too, so double win! Ha! 😉

  11. Oooh, great topic! And I’m so glad to find a new running blog on SITS. I was just thinking about this subject earlier today. I was in the locker room at the YMCA, and it struck me that once women get to be a certain age, they no longer seem to be concerned with modesty, at least in that situation. I guess what I’m trying to say in a nice way is, “holy cow, there were naked old ladies everywhere!!!” I envy that confidence – I choose my workout clothes almost entirely based on my self-confidence (and comfort/utility/etc) – not modesty. I wish I had the confidence to run in a sports bra. But that’s just me. 🙂

    1. I literally laughed out loud–“old naked ladies everywhere”! Haha! Glad to have you here and appreciate your thoughts!

  12. This is something that I feel EXTREMELY controversial on because I do try to be a christian (I feel like its a lot for me to say I am one but I try to be) but I also love fitness so much. I am an NPC Bikini competitor and some people say that it’s all about looking sexy, which for some people it may be just that. Everything really comes down to what is it your heart. After taking anatomy and physiology classes and being raised by an artist who took me to museums where there were paintings and sculptures of naked people, I have a GREAT appreciation for the human body. It is absolutely amazing to me. and I love looking at people who you can see everything on, “There’s the serratus anterior! oh there’s pectoralis major” I think it’s so cool.

    I was raised in a baptist family (although as far as I knew that never meant anything special), and I was raised to be modest but I somehow along the way adapted a poor body image and was more afraid to show too much. Since I have been working out I have absolutely gained more confidence and people do say “you deserve to show off” but the last picture I posted on instagram a friend commented “you look amazing, but leave a little to the fellas imagination!” I was totally mortified I sincerely did not think I was showing too much.

    That simply lead me to where am I now trying to find the balance between loving this piece of artwork by God that is my body and staying modest.

    1. Yes! I think you perfectly capture the struggle Nicole! Jamie Eason is a fitness model and I think does a great job of walking that line between celebrating her physical accomplishments and staying true to her Christian testimony.

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