Search icon


20th Nov 2018

Five of the worst fashion mistakes I made when I first joined the gym

Whether it was short shorts or stringer vests, first getting into fitness took its toll on my dress sense. These are the sartorial gym mistakes I once made

Alex Roberts

Joining a gym for the first time can be a daunting task, and entering the weights room even tougher

When you eventually start to make progress, you’ll catch the bug. Catching the gym bug as an adolescent usually brings about some new habits:

  • An obsession with the George Foreman grill
  • Asking family members if they even lift, bro
  • Spending a worrying amount of time watching Zyzz and Arnold motivation videos on YouTube

Making ‘newbie’ gains usually signals a change in your dress sense, too.

I made some horrendous choices a few years ago when I first started training, but what is life if it’s not a series of mistakes you’re meant to learn from?

Here are the worst of my fitness fashion faux pas:

Really Short Shorts

Granted, skipping leg day is a big no-no. But on the flip side, you can take your quad progression too seriously. After a few months of consistently squatting, I decided it was a good idea to invest in a pair of very short shorts.

They were meant to be running shorts, but I wasn’t doing any running. Cardio would have melted all my gainz in an instant, right?

Short shorts were a less-than-subtle reminder that, unlike the bad dudes out there, I do train legs and here’s your evidence.

The shorts were so small that I may as well have gone up to random members of the public in my pants and said ‘Look, I’ve been training legs at the gym’.

What’s worse is the fact I posted a picture of me wearing the shorts on my Instagram account, complete with the caption ‘Can’t wait to unleash these on Magaluf’.

Thankfully, they have not seen the light of day in five years.

Deep Cut V-Neck T-Shirts

The reason v-neck t-shirts grew so popular can probably be put down to a combination of reality TV and the general boom in gym memberships.

Donning a deep v-neck before hitting the town was a way of saying ‘yes, I have seen Geordie Shore and yes, I have done some incline dumbbell presses.’

There are arguably better ways of expressing yourself though, if we’re being honest.

V-neck tees are still an occasional feature, though not the overly deep collars. So I’m not completely out of the woods yet. But the days of aspiring to be someone who posts detox tea ads to their Twitter account are long gone.

Compression Clothing At The Wrong Time

It’s worth stating that compression clothing itself is great, and not as worthy of scorn as others on this list. After all, they are essential pieces of kit for a winter workout.

Outdoor training in particular is improved by wearing under layers – whether that’s running, cross country, hiking, football or rugby. Compression gear is also worn with MMA grappling as it makes you harder to control.

Credit: iStock

What they aren’t designed for is a 30-minute indoor arm workout where you aren’t wearing anything else on top.

A few times I wore an upper body compression tee, and, aside from feeling like a tit, could barely breathe or take it off at the end of my session.

Stringer Vests

Vests so small they are barely visible to the human eye were popularised thanks to bodybuilding, but again, context is needed.

Many people saw Ronnie Coleman et al wear these when working out, more often than not in Gold’s Gym in California. It tends to get quite hot in that part of the world, more so when you train in such weather.

I, like many others, didn’t quite get the memo.

I thought wearing one to the gym in Swansea (during bitter January mornings) was the right choice. Not only were they uncomfortable, but they left you absolutely freezing to death. A harsh but much-needed lesson, I guess.

Bodybuilding Slogan Wristbands

What. The f*ck. Was I thinking.

Writing out a phrase such as ‘eat clean, train dirty’ on a forum is bad enough. Verbally saying it is worse. Wearing it inscribed on a wristband is just something else.

Again, your best evidence for telling someone you can stick to a diet is just being in shape generally.

There’s nothing wrong with eating clean, and there’s nothing wrong with training dirty. Just make sure by ‘dirty’ you mean sessions that challenge your body to adapt to the physical stress you’re putting it under.

Not wiping your sweat off a bench or leaving your dumbbells out is also ‘dirty’, but the kind that will rightfully see your membership revoked.

Read more: