Users of the BYU–Hawaii Fitness Center were informed that effective May 29, leggings, which are very tight pants made from a material that stretches easily, could no longer be worn in the gym. Student reactions to leggings ban were mixed as some said this ban disregards safety while others noted the ban aligns with the Honor Code.
Dr. Kate McClellan, an associate professor and exercise science faculty, said there is continuing discussion between multiple parties to balance wearing leggings during exercise and the Honor Code.
Natalia Malzl, a sophomore from Utah majoring in social work, said she goes to the gym almost every day, and this new rule will discourage her from going to the gym because in the past she has only worn leggings when working out.
“I’ll either have to use clothes from the issue room, buy new shorts or maybe use some of my boyfriend’s. Basically, I can’t wear anything I’ve always been wearing to the gym since I’ve come here.”
She added she talked to many other girls who said they do not want to come to the gym anymore since leggings are the typical athletic clothing worn for females in the Fitness Center.
“I feel when you go to the gym you want to feel good about yourself and be excited. But now people are like ‘Uh, I have to wear extra layers of clothing, shorts over my leggings or baggy basketball shorts to go to the gym.’”
McClellan shared the legging ban is not a new concept because “the Honor Code for a while has wanted to change the dress code on campus as far as suitable attire, to get rid of leggings period in classrooms, common areas and in general.”
According to McClellan, there is an ongoing discussion regarding this recent rule with the President’s Council, Honor Code, Title IX and “everyone involved with this situation.” She said the ban will be further addressed when Coach Dave Porter, who is over the Fitness Center, returns to campus on June 7.
Due to safety reasons, McClellan said she is trying to allow leggings and fitted clothing to be allowed in the Fitness Center while still respecting the Honor Code.
“It’s safer to work out, and you can see your form properly [in tight clothing]. We understand that might cause a disconnect where it’s allowed in one place and not the other.
“We want to respect the Honor Code and their decision right now and we want to maintain a safe place and space for people to work out, so we have to find a balance.”
Kaimi Horito, a junior from Utah majoring in Hawaiian studies, agreed with McClellan noting how tighter clothing is safer.
“I don’t see a problem with girls wearing leggings in the gym. If they wear loose or baggy clothing, there’s a chance their clothing could get caught on gym equipment. That is a safety hazard.”
Horito mentioned since the Fitness Center is “cracking down on leggings, they’re also cracking down on boys’ shorts.”
“Sometimes my shorts are a little above the knee, which I don’t think is a problem in the gym because it can get hot in there and it’s more comfortable for me. My main concern is that Honor Code is controlling little things like that which aren’t really affecting anybody.”
Lehonti Perez Ovalle, a sophomore from Guatemala majoring in business marketing, said he thought the Honor Code had standards preventing the wearing of tight clothing, so he was “surprised this wasn’t being enforced already.”
“I don’t think this should be a surprise to people. This is a church school and these are standards that I think are outlined in the ‘For Strength of Youth’ and are similar to some of the Honor Code dress standards.”
McClellan added, “I think Coach Porter is going to have a really good conversation with Honor Code and those involved moving forward. We are hoping to have this resolved, and the rule amended to a way that appeases everyone, somehow.”
According to Honor Code staff, a final decisions and revisions will be made to the rule at the gym on Monday, June 9.