What Your Gym Clothes Say About You

Sophie Milrom | October 24, 2014

Oh, you thought your bun said it all? Not even close.

Want more stories like this one? Read: What Your Pony Tail Says About You, What Your Profile Picture Says About You, and What Your Coffee Order Says About You. Now you can skip your therapy session today and have a glass of rosé instead!

The NBA Borrower:


When a young woman appears to be swimming in the practice outfit of a 6′ 5″, 250 pound basketball player, she’s probably been in a relationship for over 3 years. She’s like, “I got this.”

However, a common misconception is that she is borrowing all of these items from said partner. Nope. Michaela Jordanda has collected workout gear from every gargantuan male she’s ever come across — maybe a father, or brother, or a kid who fell asleep next to his laundry basket. She’s always a little shady about where she got her jerseys from. She did not go to Cornell and yet her shorts say otherwise. The other thing about her: these garments are worn anytime she’s not (1) at work or (2) at an event informal enough that it didn’t require a Paperless Post RSVP.

The Pinterest Pony:


Her hot pink tank tops say things like, “Keep calm & sweat,” “Run now, wine later,” or, “My other sports bra is La Perla.” She follows fitspo accounts on every social media platform, and if you need to find her, she’ll be walking hills on the elliptical.

The Coordinator:


Her sports bra matches her leggings matches the swoosh on her Nike sneakers…matches her hair tie. Nothing screams “I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who met their boyfriend at the gym” quite like a female wearing an “outfit” on the stationary bike. She hasn’t quite figured out that unless you are partaking in the filming of a fitness video, no one cares about your sweaty color scheme.

Although she works out vigorously, this “exercise barbie” never seems to break a sweat. There is something to be said, however, about the fact that she shows up religiously after work, 5 days a week, and has abs so spliced you could use them as a dish rack. Maybe she’s on to something.

The One Not Over Her Bat Mitzvah:



Once in a blue moon, a woman who has still has “Camp BFFs” will recall her bat mitzvah as the best night of her life, and her still-too-large t-shirt lives to tell the tale in yoga. She genuinely may have “danced her pants off,” or “had a ball” that night, as the shirt explicitly states. Still, after age 16, it’s recommended to leave the evidence at home.

The University Gift Shop Superstar:


She either really needs everyone to know she went to Michigan, or, she attended college in such a rural town that the only place she could satiate her shopping addiction was the university gift store, hence the school crests and colors on ev-ry-thing. Either way, you know where her future kids will be going.

The Norm Core Workout-er:


Typically seen in standard black leggings with a full underwear line showing underneath, plus a t-shirt or tank top with holes, she is a working woman, and to her, these are her nothing more than gym clothes. She cares enough about appearance to avoid the aforementioned NBA attire, but she’s too tired and stressed out to put an ensemble together. She can be found texting from the elliptical, leaving yoga 10 minutes early to answer an email, then changing back into work clothes without a shower — though she adds a quick spray of the community deodorant cans found in most gym bathrooms that almost no one else uses.

The $pin Cla$$er:


You know when a really high end, luxury fashion brand does a collaboration with a sportswear company and you’re like, “Who would spend $280 on spandex?” This girl. Her sneakers, sports bras, sweat-wicking thongs and headphones are all limited edition. The treadmill is her catwalk. She’s halted an entire spin class because her 2k diamond earring fell out during a particularly intense ride, but man. Dang. Does this woman look good.

The Flash Dancer:


“She’s a steel worker by day, exotic dancer by night. Her dream is to get into a real dance company, though, and with encouragement from her boss/boyfriend, she may get her chance. The city of Pittsburgh co-stars. What a feeling!”

That’s IMDB’s description of Flash Dance but it was basically what we were going to say anyway. This woman owns zero shirts that aren’t cut with a pair of scissors and she gets mad when you confuse her with Baby from Dirty Dancing.

Jen Selter:


THIS GIRL. She wears a sports bra and spandex shorts so tight they could choke a noodle. She definitely does not own shirts but she’ll occasionally throw on a hoodie — unzipped, of course, and she takes a lot of selfies. In fact, she probably has an Instagram account dedicated to fitness, and she’s definitely paleo, and never skips #squats. You want to hate her…but you can’t. Her body is a wonderland and you spend the majority of your time wondering just how weird it would be if you politely — politely! — asked her permission to feel her glute.

The Face:


She’s got the bronzer, the blush, the foundation, the primer, eyelid primer, highlighter, eyeshadow and mascara happening. Her hair is done. She looks really pretty and makes you wish you were wearing one of those horse masks that people wear to EDM concerts. If it’s after 5 PM you can cut her and yourself a break because she probably came from work. If it’s before noon on a weekend, however, there’s a certain trainer she’s trying hard to impress. (And by the way, why are you at the gym before noon on a weekend?)

The Confused:


Every once in a while you spot someone attempting to make the rowing machine work while wearing a pair of jeans. It could be one of two things: either this woman forgot her gym clothes yet is so dedicated to her routine that she took a cue from Nike and just did it, but in denim, OR, she’s really, really confused.

The Liar:


She looks like The Coordinator, The $pin Cla$$er or the Pinterest Pony. Actually, besides The Confused, this girl could take on the visual persona of all the above-mentioned types. She’s got her sneakers on, her hair is up, her earbuds are plugged in and she looks ready to run. But she won’t run today. She’ll skip the gym for a doughnut, maybe grab a beer, meet a friend, catch a movie, take a nap. But she’ll say she worked out. She’ll brag about how she stretched afterwards, too. Who cares. You’ve done it too, and your leggings didn’t catch fire.

A Sophie Milrom & Amelia Diamond brain-collaboration with Charlotte Fassler on the illustration kick drum

Want more Man Repeller? Check out The Thought Process of Packing for a Weekend Away, a question about whether or not Ghosting is polite (Leandra thinks it is), a love story about how the designer of Tibi met her business partner (and husband), and story like the one above about what your ponytail says about you.

  • These were great to read! I couldn’t find myself anywhere, but I recognize people I saw from all these types.


  • mafer_dm

    I’m so norm core. But not intentionally, you know? It’s just… I’d rather spend my money on Zara on a blouse that would totally look good with those pants and that other skirt while you can *only* wear your Adiwhatever to the gym.

    • Jamie Leland

      I’m with you. My workout clothes are mostly shirts that are too ratty to wear anywhere else and leggings/soffees I’ve had since the beginning of time. I give zero fucks about my gym outfits. All the fucks go to clothes I wear IRL.

      • katiedid13

        Omg soffees, YES

    • Lyric

      Yeah, I go to the gym so I look cute outside of the gym. Why am I going to get dolled up to then turn into a tomato-faced sweat machine after five minutes?

    • katiedid13

      Exactly! “Typically seen in standard black leggings with a full underwear line showing underneath, plus a t-shirt or tank top with holes” is like TOO spot-on.

      • katiedid13

        Yesterday I was wearing the aforementioned outfit & was the only one in my yoga class, and I just had to be like ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • Hej

      I am way too sweaty to be comfortable in cotton, i need the sweat wicking abilities of proper gym gear. Most of which is so overpriced 🙁

      • jtwizz

        i buy mine on the clearance rack at wal-mart

  • I’m collegiate norm core for sure. My own mother had to drag me into Lululemon because she was so appalled at the state of my running pants I’ve had since high school. It’s reaaaalll bad. XD

  • Roxy Menhaji

    This makes my heart cry

  • Lulu

    Flash Dance baby!!! Shout out to my home town, the Steel City!!

  • Tara Jayne

    This was cray cray hilar.

    I am the norm-core workout-er but not because I’m busy, just because I’m lazy and I like to wear full bottomed panties under my leggings. And yoga pants are just an effing rip off I don’t care about the ass-effect.

    The Face and Jen Selter always make me notice that I do in fact have lines framing my ass and also that I look like a cross between Bette Midler any Johnny Depp at a baseball game in 90 degree weather, but I don’t care. That much. I mean, who wants to get hit on at the gym anyway? LEAVE ME ALONE I’M LIFTING.


  • A million thank yous for finally putting a label on something that never fails to amuse me at the gym: the pinterest pony. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but you nailed it, per usual. Well played, Man Repeller. Well played.

  • talk about a triple threat of creators, here. the pinterest one. toooo good. i don’t fall into any category, though! I like to think of myself as the stay at home mother trying to squeeze in a zumba or class before having to pick up little tony at piano lessons (little tony is my fake son). The pants are black and cropped, and for the most part it’s #allblackeverything, except for the days where my top half resembles a bowl of fruit loops.

  • ali

    v v normcore. i just switch out my hole-laden vintage summer camp t-shirt with a cashmere sweater and i’m ready for work the next day.

  • lavieenliz

    lol nice! the bat mitzvah!


  • Kayla Tanenbaum

    I’m the “don’t own gym clothes because who am I kidding”

      • Amelia Diamond

        all up on this shit with the newman gifs today!

        • You guys need to check out the @Seinfeld2000 Instagram account. It’s hilarious. Snagged this picture from it for your viewing pleasure:

        • katiedid13

          I spent all of my childhood staring blankly at adults yelling “NEWMAN” at me when I told them my name, but now that I’ve seen that show as an adult I really can’t blame them.

      • Kayla Tanenbaum


  • AlexaJuno

    Great piece. Say what you will about panty lines under leggings, but nothing can put a damper on a workout more than a swampy crotchal region.

  • I usually wear my black 3/4 leggings with a visible panty line (wait, don’t put me into the norm core drawer yet) AND a T-Shirt that says things. Usually quotes from my favourite TV series like “Not Penny’s Boat” or “Team Jack” and “BSG forever” and stuff. Where else should I wear those Former Passion Purchases?
    There must be a category for … “Stay at home workouters past 40 with overshary tees”? Dad Joke Material?

    • katiedid13

      Black 3/4 leggings + legs that haven’t been shaved in 3/4 days = my signature

  • HAHAHHA you guys are fucking hilarious. A dream team. Words = hilarious, Sophie and Amelia. And as always, Char is killing it with the illustrations.

    My go-to is a tank top paired with guy’s running shorts. The ones that look like diapers with the big flaps on the side. They catch a little wind and your whole bottom is on display. When you’re runnin’ with your best friends, though (XC4Life) there’s a lot more revealed than mere buttocks. Some of the most honest, heart-felt, hilarious and embarrassing conversations happen on team runs.

    Oh, and had to incorporate this photo of my dog. She’s definitely the Spin Cla$$er AND the Liar. And the G.

  • Mimi

    I must say I’m a coordinator, if only to not appear frumpy. I will go to the gym less often if I know all I packed for it is an old baggy tshirt.

  • BethanyBeach

    I’m somewhat a coordinator in that I always wear black spandex with a neon-colored tank top (the color varies) and neon shoes, because spandex is my lifeblood and the fun colors help to motivate me!

  • Sullivan Owen

    hmm, what goes better with my trying too hard pigtails? My usual norm core leggings or maybe I need to aim for spin classer? funny post

  • Tosin AK

    Haha love it!

    Tosin AK

  • IMCV

    *Athlete a la Mode*: You have a rotating outfit regimen to match your barre-yoga-spin schedule; which absolutely, god forbid, does not repeat itself, and should accordingly alternate. They don’t have to ask for your name at your local Lulu’s fitting room. You own at least one piece of every designer X activewear collaboration, and we all know exactly where to find you at the morning of November 6th.

  • Ever since we got a home gym set up at my place, I’ve been able to take the normcore outfit to a whole other level and work out in pyjamas if I feel like it (no hot trainers to impress!)


  • I would never be caught dead with panty lines. ICK. And you probably could guess that I’m a coordinator. Gotta love my turquoise-accented Lucy capri leggings!

  • hahah! I’ve totally seen all of these at the gym! I think I’m norm-core WITHOUT the panty line … you gotta care a little!


  • Haha, so well written! Pretty spot on on a lot of styles here. Guess I’m some sort of balanced mix between the coordinator and norm core.


  • I’m all for college merch at the gym, Lululemon gear for gadding about town (yoghurt dates, not yoga dates!), ‘Ski Trip ’07’ tshirt in the summer… costume cross-pollination so I look like a well-rounded person! (Or just a pretentious twerp)


  • I love you so much! I wish I had your analytical humour for my everyday, this is genius!

  • MSCFBeeches

    I’m Coordinator, a Normcore-r and a Liar… And since I think they all pretty much nullify each other that means I attend the gym metaphysically from the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts.


  • I am probably the coordinator because i am super OCD 😛 That may translate in to the Jen Selter, but i do NOT wear makeup to the gym so that makes me feel good about my self hahahah



  • I am the Coordinator. All my gym attire goes with my sneakers etc. Mainly because I bought it all at once, on sale and wanted it to match so I could feel good or whatever. And then, you never know who you meet at the gym, right?

    • BethanyBeach


  • Great article! I’m a bit norm core minus the panty lines and leaving class early.


  • Marissa Dawson

    poverty puts me in the norm core group. my gym membership has maxed my budget lol.

  • Sara

    Well… my workout clothes generally are: my boyfriend’s university t-shirt, a pair of black leggings and a pair of sneakers. But the truth is that my t-shirts are always creased 🙂 and that I usually find an excuse to avoid the gym. http://www.cosamipassaperlamoda.it

  • I’m totally The Coordinator but I’ve had Normcore moments when I don’t have time to wash laundry. Is it weird to say I wanna be a Pinterest Pony?

  • Normcore all the way. I look worse than when I wake up in the morning. I will never understand why women wear make up to work out. And I run into people I haven’t seen in months or years at my gym. (Blink, cheapest option in Manhattan)

  • ahahhaha I am totally the NBA Borrower..kill me!! i have taken my gym attire as parting gifts and such… ahahh no shame in my game!

  • sunny


  • Olivia

    “The confused” made me laugh until I cried. Well done, well done!

    • romancing_oblivion

      Hi. Norm-core here. Panty lines are top notch. I will wear boy shorts under my leggings if that is all I have clean, BTW. I cannot go without because camel toe. Thanks!

  • ck

    how is there not a category for the Lululemon obsessed… you know what I’m talking about. The: “I wear everything Lululemon and I have the latest thing from Lulu etc etc”

  • Ella Longland

    I upped the ante of The University Gift Shop Superstar by buying things from the gift shop at our National Institute of Sport whilst on a school trip. It goes great, people think I am an athlete, that is until they see me sweating buckets and falling off the treadmill after about 10 minutes of running.

    • Anthony Mckenzie

      Many women I know love to wear “stylish” gym wear in the gym. Same with guys, seems the new thing.
      We always get ours from http://www.herculeangymwear.com

  • Cher Armstrong

    Normcore, coordinator or university gift shop superstar (only they’re more items from my NCAA athlete days)

  • Kate Alexis Clausen

    I don’t fit into any of these. I run. I lift. I dance in my kitchen. I generally wear black to the gym. I love my leggings and if I’m home alone, I’m wearing them.

  • Lea

    Norm core but only because leggings are so comfortable and all of my old shirts with holes are so soft and worn in so they’re perfect workout material!

  • Lisa Piper

    I’m the norm core…I just can’t get it right. Used to be the Flash Dancer, but that was actually AT THE TIME of the movie. Hell, who didn’t want to be her? The days of Jen Selter are over too…I’ll just make sure my VPL isn’t too prominent.

  • Marissa

    You forgot the Lulu ladies! I am sadly this person.

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    I’m a norm core girl because I never work out…or if I think that I’m on a fitness kick, I’ll pretend like I know what’s up and do the Jen Selter and spend a boat load on spandex and a sportsbra (that match) and wear them once. Or around the house cleaning.

  • Cathie2027

    I’m a coordinator and seltser. I like running in my sports bra because during heavy runs/sprints i overheat and feel like i’ll pass out (no booty shorts for me though- just 3/4 pants.

    I’d rather invest in high tech gym clothes than spend money on non gym clothes that were made in china for a buck and sold for 100 in the US- but i dont care for labels. At least you get something out of the pricet workout gear.

  • summerllark

    Completely Awesome! I read the whole post and somewhere I was relating myself with your content. I don’t like show off, I just wear T-shirts and Gym Leggings and they are more comfortable than anything.

  • Margarita

    Hi, this is really excellent articles for women’s fitness. Fitness is very important for everyone. Thanks to share nice information with us.


  • summerllark

    wow! this is too good. I also do gym exercises and I don’t really care about the gym clothes. comfort and stylish looks matters to me more. I always buy
    Womens Gym
    Wear Online

  • ayannamcneil

    i feel PERSONALLY attacked by the vpl reference in the normcore profile seeing as like WOW THATS ME AND when we say “gym” i hope we can agree that i mean “my living room watching fitness youtube vids”

  • PCE

    I’m a coordinator, 100%. Full disclosure: I’m a chubby girl who goes to Equinox. It’s terrifying. That place is CHOCK FULL of Jen Selters and $pin Cla$$ers, and being the chubby girl in spin or the locker room is MORE than enough to make me never want to go there again. But you know what gets me there? My outfits. Despite what is suggested above, I don’t care if anyone notices that I’m coordinated or wearing awesome watercolor leggings – I’m doing this for ME, not YOU. If coordinated or colorful outfits give enough confidence or happiness to get me to the gym, then why would anyone knock me for it? Seeing myself in colorful, coordinated gear gets me hyped to sweat my ass off in cycling and to NOT think about the fact that I’m the biggest girl in the room by about 4 dress sizes.

  • Cecilia

    Where’s the person that wears all black – or something neutral – doesn’t want attention, takes the workout seriously but doesn’t do more than necessary, because she still has shit to do? Haha , here in Rio a good part of the population dresses like that. It’s more than normcore and less than the coordinator in terms of “dressing up” to the gym.

    • Sam

      Ha! Right here! But I wear all black mostly because I’m a total sweat monster and that’s the only way to cover it up–tbf tho it’s also all moisture wicking so I probably cross into “coordinator” territory

  • Anthony Smith

    While dark colors can be sophisticated, sleek, and slimming, think twice if you tend to exercise outside. If you cycle or walk, especially at dawn or after dark, you should always wear light-colored clothing, preferably with reflective material on it (and that holds true of rain gear as well).Add a hat and sunglasses for hot weather days, so you’ll get extra protection against the elements.


  • Dave
  • Rose

    I dress like the coordinator, but nobody knows, haha. I exercise at home. Even if I go running outside, I live in the middle of nowhere, so nobody’s going to see. Nice clothes just make me happy! And I feel a little less nasty when I’m staggering off the treadmill, sweaty and red-faced, but at least the color-blocking on my leggings matches my bra.

    Although I also like all-black outfits because they make me feel like a spy. I have a spy-themed playlist for the all-black-outfit days. Not even a little ashamed. 🙂

  • Paul Cowley

    If your into color and quality, checkout gonoly at gonoly.com . It’s not to expensive and they use fantastic technology.

  • Zipper Pockets

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  • jtwizz

    i guess i’m closest to the coordinator. but my shoes only matched by accident. and my bra doesn’t match at all. sometimes when all my regular workout gear is in the wash though, i am definitely norm core

  • zoya

    Great, Gym outfits. I tried the burkini for gym. but this is also cool. thanks

  • females are very annoying and it’s reasons like this I have no choice but to turn gay