City of Edmonton reviewing what type of clothing is acceptable at gyms

Edmonton city staff are reviewing rules outlining what’s appropriate for people to wear at city fitness facilities. Confirmation that a review is underway comes after local woman Coral Wiebe was told wearing a sports bra was not appropriate while working out at a city sports facility.

Local woman told not to wear sports bra says current policy is flawed

Brad Badger says the city is reviewing its clothing policies in a changing fitness industry.

Edmonton city staff are reviewing rules outlining what's appropriate for people to wear at city fitness facilities.

Confirmation that a review is underway comes after a local woman, Coral Wiebe, was told it wasn't okay to wear a sports bra while working out at a city sports facility.

"We intend to have a different or reviewed guideline coming out in the new year," the city's director of programs and events, Brad Badger, said Friday afternoon. "The fitness industry is really changing."

The current guidelines for city recreational facilities simply say "appropriate, clean attire and indoor closed-toed footwear is mandatory."

The city interprets the guidelines to mean that men must always wear shirts, and that women and men must cover their midriffs, Badger explained.

The city is doing the review in light of changing trends, Badger acknowledged. 

What was once deemed a sports bra is now more of a "fitness-type upper body … piece of clothing," he said, adding the differing views on what is appropriate seems to be broadening.

"We've got to take a look at this and see if we're going the right way."

After a recent workout at at the Meadows Community Recreation Centre, Wiebe was on a treadmill in her tights and a sports bra. One of the facility's staff members approached her and told her that working out in a sports bra was not appropriate.

Are clothing rules 'common sense'?

Wiebe, 42, said the policy on clothing should come from a common sense, safety perspective.

"I think that means don't wear jeans and flip flops," she said.

Wiebe believes clothing policy should be based on common sense, safety concerns.

In the case of spin classes or aerobics, Wiebe said she has seen many women wearing sports bras, something she believes is appropriate.

"Wear clothing that you're not going to overheat in and pass out in," she said.

Other facilities around Edmonton have different types of policies.

Kent Bittorf, vice president of health, fitness and aquatics for the YMCA of northern Alberta, said they allow sports bras, depending on the situation.

"We wouldn't necessarily say 'no' to a sports bra," Bittorf said. "We would deal with a circumstance where we felt that in the spirit of a shared workout experience, it might be to the point where it would make other members uncomfortable by perhaps how revealing it is."

The only firm rule the YMCA has is on footwear — no outdoor or open-toed shoes allowed.

A spokesperson with World Health in downtown Edmonton said their facility allows bare midriffs.

At Good Life Fitness, workout attire must be "respectable in nature." According to spokesperson Adam Roberts, sports bras are considered acceptable.