About six years ago I had an intern working at my studio, working through her GYROTONIC® Apprentice teaching hours as she also learned the ins and outs of running a studio. She hoped to gain knowledge and experience that might help her one day open her own studio. She was a sweet, smart, young woman, good with clients, responsible, and eager to learn.
One day early on, she came into the studio to teach a few clients and I was surprised to see she was wearing an oversized white T-shirt, like from a pack of men’s undershirts, and pink, baggy sweatpants with the word “PINK” written on the bum. She looked as if she’d been in bed watching Netflix and had noticed the time, thrown on some shoes, and headed out to teach.
Having a slight non-conformist streak and having great respect for my trainers’ autonomy I didn’t feel comfortable telling her how to dress, but because of how it reflected upon my studio, and because she was there to learn after all, I realized I'd have to gently give her some guidelines.
Since then I have seen other trainers who I thought really had their acts together, except that they may have been shortchanging their potential by making less then professional work wardrobe choices.
We all need to feel comfortable in our clothes, and being in a not-exactly-traditional field we have a little more room for creative expression in our dress than maybe people in some other types of jobs might have. I personally turn up at the studio in peacock printed leggings and a drapey low backed tops I found in Bali- not exactly conservative. But I’ve also been teaching for 20+ years and have an established reputation and clientele.
It's not so helpful in our field to tell an apprentice or employee to dress "more professionally", because it's not entirely clear what that even means. So I've compiled a little check list to help trainers be sure to be comfortable, expressive, a bit quirky if they’d like, but still pull off the “professional” vibe.
Would/did you sleep in it? Seriously, no jammies at work.
Does it fit well? Even great fitness clothes can look sloppy if they’re too big, too tight, or just a weird length on you.
Can we see your belly button? I’m sure its cute, but save it for your own workout, not for training clients.
Are “the girls” supported, covered, and secured? The female body is a beautiful thing and there’s no shame in having breasts, we just don’t want cleavage in our client’s face, or for the client to be wondering whether you might have a wardrobe malfunction at any moment when they should be focused on getting their deep abdominal connection firing.
Is there anything written on your butt? There really probably shouldn’t be.
Is this athletic wear or lounge wear? Not all sweatpants are for teaching. There are more tailored styles that are great for teaching. There are also ones that are only meant for puttering around the house or studying for exams.
What’s your shirt say? While text on a top can be fun and stylish, shirts with text should be chosen carefully. It’s best to avoid event shirts, such as from your last 10k, vacation destination shirts, such as “Miami Beach!”, and definitely avoid political shirts at work. Also, T-shirts should be a flattering, and preferably a somewhat stylish cut.
Check your VPL. While I think it’s fine if we see a little subtle panty line under leggings, ill-fitting or badly cut underpants can create too specific a picture of what’s going on under there, meaning our clients may be distracted by our bums. And it doesn’t make for the most pulled together look.
And to accessorize:
Long hair should be pulled back so it doesn’t brush against the client, and so the clients can easily see your head and neck alignment when you’re demonstrating
No perfume. Clients and other trainers in the room are often sensitive to scents. You may be accustomed to the smell and hardly notice it while someone else in the room may be getting a headache from it.
Keep jewelry simple enough that it doesn’t distract the client, get in the way or, worse, get caught on equipment (big hoop earrings and Gyrotonic straps don’t always mix well)
But still have fun with your work wardrobe and be yourself. Just a very tidy, well presented, professional version of yourself.
Do you have anything to add to the list? Or are you dying to defend your Feel the Bern T-shirt you still wear to work? Let me know in the comments