Goodbye, 'Jogbra'...

May 2015: First up, though I still try to put up blog content whenever I can, it has been easier to more regularly visit the the Twitterverse. Follow me at @barethomas10 and let's keep the shirtless running flag flying. Of course, the blog still attracts very interesting comments, and good discussion. Keep it up.

Second, in the years since this venture launched, and as shirtless running among women has gone increasingly mainstream, the term "jogbra" has clearly declined in use. I will thus prefer "sportsbra" henceforth - as has already been the case on Twitter, and in recent posts here.

I continue to welcome guest posts (sent to on any related topic, including from those who would discourage stripping to the waist. I am myself of course a fervent convert to the joys of running bare. But let all voices be heard!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Are celebrities good role models?

There are a number of celebrities who are known for enjoying a shirtless run, both male and female. I'll skip the Hollywood name-dropping, since a Google search will reveal who they are. And I'm also in two minds regarding them, despite my own support of their cause.

On the one hand, they could be doing a lot of good, in that many people who read about their exploits may feel more inclined to give a shirtless trot a try. On the other hand, these stars are almost inevitably toned to a ridiculous pitch with the aid of personal trainers, hours in high-tech gyms and so on. They give a false image of what a shirtless runner ought to look like - and could even act as a disincentive, since most folks' bodies and body shapes are rather less ideal.

Personally, as far as role-modelling goes, it was the example of persons far closer to my own day-to-day life that helped me overcome my own inhibitions. Two sets of persons come to mind.

With the first, I knew a cousin who always removed his shirt before playing racquet sports, and another who always did so when jogging. Both signalled that my own incipient sense of being uncomfortable when exercising fully clothed was not a bizarre anomaly but something that could be acted on. They were completely comfortable being seen shirtless, without ever seeming to be exhibitionistic or - as is always a suspicion with celebrities - preening for the camera. I knew them both to be 'normal' people with 'normal' physiques, so emulating them was not an insane notion.

As for the second set of people, there was a Rangers troop at school that required its members to strip to the waist for certain activities, including group exercise, foot drills and some games. I never did join up, but I came to notice that some of my pals who did so became, after a time, much more comfortable about being barechested - and indeed began opting to shed their shirts for gym class or PT. Again, they hadn't become show-offs anxious to display bulked-up muscles and draw girls' attentions. They had simply shrugged off their inhibitions, and were the happier for it.

This blog, then, will ignore the Olympians, professional sportsmen and superstars (even a certain President), however inspiring their shirtless exploits might be to some. It will showcase the thoughts, example and struggles of ordinary folks - even as I am myself as ordinary as any Joe could be - and hopefully show these to be more than enough reason to embark on shirtless runs.


Tremendi said...

An interesting observation. I have never thought of celebrities being an inspiration. I just like to see anyone running shirtless whatever their age/shape/style/fitness level and feeling comfortable doing so.

I may be crazy but this year I have adopted a run shirtless "whatever the weather" policy. To date it has worked ok and I hope I have been an inspiration to others to do it - not that many seem to around where I live.

I think that body acceptance is a big issue these days and I agree that group activity where it is common and there is no stigma attached to being shirtless helps to overcome those media and peer pressure inspired values that it is only ok to be shirtless if you are in peak physical condition (in which case are you flaunting it?).

Maybe I need to share why I became a shirtless runner too.

Having said all that, anyone want to join me for a shirtless run - whatever the weather?

Shirtless Robbie said...

This is a good point. Ultimately, it's the ordinary people who are the real inspiration. People just like you and me. There is no requisite physique for taking your shirt off for running or other sports. Seeing ordinary guys taking off their shirt and just being comfortable and natural about it is what really lets other guys feel they can do it too.

Not that guys with a good physique need to hide it, of course. Just be natural and don't worry about whether people think you are flaunting or not.

Anonymous said...

"there was a Rangers troop at school that required its members to strip to the waist for certain activities, including group exercise, foot drills and some games"

Really? Which school were that?
I read some forums where people say there are still some schools where PE lessons are held shirtless for health and safety reasons.It would be a good thing for more schools to gain more body acceptance. Don't you think?

barethomas said...

Thanks for the thoughts, folks...

Tremendi, I hope the "Run shirtless whatever the weather" policy continues to be successful and hasn't resulted in a cold.

I second your sentiments, Robbie.

And I agree with you, Anonymous, that shirtless PE lessons would likely bring about broader 'body acceptance', which is probably a good thing as long as it doesn't promote laziness ('who cares if I look/am fat? I'm fine as I am').

Tremendi said...

To date from Mar/Apr 2009 I have run shirtless "whatever the weather". The coldest that I have run shirtless in was around -5C on a crisp but windy day on a trip to Germany. Last weekend I ran for an hour in -4C here in the UK and this past Monday for 40 minutes in -2C with snow falling around me.
I can honestly say that I have never felt better and have had fewer colds this past year than in the recent past so maybe running cold and swimming in ice cold water somehow boosts the immune system (there does seem to be some documentary evidence of this).