From Gym Bum to Gym Bae: A Men’s Guide to Dressing In the Gym

You’re a single dude in his mid-late 20’s and early 30’s and you’ve decided to get in shape. I don’t know, maybe you care about your body but most people I know at this age are looking to be more datable. You want to meet people but aren’t sure where to start – this is totally understandable. Tinder isn’t for everyone. I’m not

going to recommend you meet them at the gym — after all, they aren’t there for you. But you should at least be open to the possibility that things can happen anywhere, which means you have to be on your A-game all the time, even while working out.

Most guys don’t care how they look at the gym, and so they show up with their long socks and their crappy t-shirts, paying no attention to detail. They assume the gym is only a place to take care of their body and that they can worry about cleaning up later. But check this out: people dig people who take care of themselves. It’s been studied and proven time after time after time. Just about every place can be a dating dojo, you just have to be prepared to become its Sensei.


As with all dating opportunities, first impression is very important. If you’re open to the idea of staying attractive at the gym — and you should be — here are some things I recommend.

  • Grow a Beard

If you’re able to grow a beard, do it. There is no reason for a man who can grow some awesome hair all over his face to stay clean shaven. Before I was in shape, most of the compliments I got from women were about my beard, and frankly I did pretty well all things considered. You don’t have to be in awesome shape yet to show off your chin curtain, so get on it.

  • Sleeveless Shirts are Cool, but Know Your Limits

Sleeveless shirts are cool. Even if you’re not ripped (do people say that still?) they show you’re there to sweat and you’re there to work. Motivation and confidence are very important with first impressions.

However, there are dudes at the gym who are so stoked on themselves that the cut of shirts they wear just breathe “jerk”. There’s a difference between a guy who needs a lot of room for his skin to breathe and the guy who just wants to show off his pierced nips and biceps. Don’t be that guy.

  • Have Good Shoes

Men are unfortunately trained to think it’s unmanly to care about shoes. But the shoes a man wears are very important. Feet in general have a lot to do with body language. You might be asking, what are good shoes? Well this shouldn’t be too hard, but essentially you shouldn’t wear shoes that are beat to death, have holes in them, or don’t fit the purpose. Like, you won’t be wearing the skate shoes you sport to pretend you can do more than an ollie.

  • Rep Good Brands, or at least don’t rep bad ones

Do a little research and when you work out, know what you’re doing and what you’re wearing. I’m not saying you have to be a walking advertisement for Under Armour, but don’t look like you got everything you’re wearing at Walmart either … not that you can’t get everything at Walmart, just don’t look like you did. This will mean less chances of looking like an idiot when someone tries to engage you on it.

  • Walk With Your Head Up

Confidence is hot, studies say, partners say, experience says. Walk around like you belong at the gym and don’t let anyone bigger or more in shape than you get in your way. Those guys are total tools, and if you can see that they’re tools, other people can too. They pose no threat to your own sex appeal or availability when they’re acting like they own the place. You’re there to get fit, and the fitter you get, the better you’ll feel about yourself, so some of this should come naturally. I bet you’ll be walking around with your back straight and your head up just by means of feeling better and your body re-correcting itself that way.

  • Have a Fitness-Oriented Music Listening Device

There’s really nothing lamer than taking your iPhone with a broken case and dropping it down your shirt and into the pocket of your shorts. It’s happened to me several times! This is the gym equivalent of 6th graders retracting their arms into their shirts when you get cold. My advice? Arm bands that hold your device are efficient for working out, and it’s honestly kind of trendy in the gym scene right now. Something as simple as an iPod Nano can work just fine for a music playing device, but how you use and carry whatever device you own is the most important part.

Also, if you don’t have headphones or listen to music when you work out, you’re weird.


There are some things you should just never do, wear, etc. When people wear the following, or say and do the following, I just hope that someone comes to tell them how lame they are. Today, I will be the messenger.

  • Wear a headband

I can’t emphasize this enough – headbands are lame dude. They’re just 80’s retro garbage. It doesn’t matter what color, and I don’t care that your favorite basketball player is wearing one in that commercial he did recently. You’re not him and it will not help with your image. Or your anything – they kind of just collect sweat then put it back in your face, which is pretty counterproductive to what they’re there for. Be into fitness, but don’t be a dork.

  • Sport Long Socks

Long socks are what your dad wears. In no crazy world will that help either you or him. I highly recommend ankle socks for those who care about looking slick while they’re getting their pump on. There is an exception though, and that is black Nike long socks. I don’t know what it is, but nobody I’ve talked to has ever had anything bad to say about them. Still, keep in mind that they should be no higher than halfway up your calves. In general, however, stay away from this fashion disaster. Most people aren’t going to get dates looking like their dad.

  • Wear Snapbacks

Snapbacks are similar to tie dye in that they make you look like a giant child. Or an old man. I should just name this section “things your dad does that you shouldn’t do.” But that’s neither here nor there. Another thing that sucks about snapbacks – the only kind you can get are from old sports teams or fishing stores. Of course fishing is cool – but talking about fishing is not, and fishing merchandising is especially not tight while working out. Regardless, whatever is on your snapback, it probably won’t look very cool, so fitted caps only bro.

  • Skip Out on Water

There are some guys I see at the gym who are always drinking protein mixes, and the whole time I can’t stop thinking, “what about water?” I’m sure other people think the same thing. Granted, experts think you should be eating protein once every three hours, and if you’re trying to bulk up that’s great, man. But while you’re at the gym itself, you need to stay hydrated.

  • Wear Dumb Glasses

Nobody likes McLovins. Glasses are a necessity for some and I get how contacts may be annoying at the gym if you get sweat in your eyes. But if you have to wear glasses, can you at least look like Matthew McConaughey in that Wedding Planner movie before he said all that crazy stuff at the Oscars? Not his glasses per se, I’m just saying you should look good.

All I’m saying is that if you must wear glasses, at least let them be cool glasses and not the kind your grandpa would wear. You want to look cool, because again, everything is an opportunity. Get ahead of the game and look hot while you get in shape, and people will notice.

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