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!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Porn, prurience and shirtlessness

Here's an acute, and rather disturbing, observation, excerpted from a comment on The Creed of Shirtless Running (click here), a post found on this very blog. The thought is by Crow. and runs:

I think going shirtless is a good habit... in any conditions where I don't feel bad because of it. People used to do it more, I think a modern prurience has set in because the net has made it easy to associate it with porn. I think people get embarrassed about seeing private stuff in public. The more they see sexuality, or even just a less than totally clothed human body, in adverts, on the net, etc, the more they feel confronted by their newly conditioned reactions when they see it on the street.
Interestingly put! Perhaps I might take three points of interest for further expansion:

1) 'People used to do it more': There are undoubtedly many places in the world where shirtlessness is on the decline. But as far as shirtless runners is concerned, I'd be interested to know if that holds true too. Haven't heard or read too much on that score, but some would claim that more people are running wearing less. My own experience has been that there has been neither an uptick or a drop.

2) 'A modern prurience linked to an association with porn': If indeed day-to-day shirtlessness is ebbing, the fact that shirtlessness is simultaneously more easily 'accessed' through porn sites these days would institute a damning, self-reinforcing cycle!...
a) People's exposure to shirtlessness would increasingly be through media glorifying sexual objectification, which
b) leads us to see all shirtlessness in such terms, causing us to scale back 'ordinary shirtlessness' all the more,
c) further reducing the contexts outside e-porn in which we see bare-chestedness... and so on.
If Crow. is right, then how can the circle be unbroken?

3) 'People get embarrassed about seeing private things public': Of course, some would allege that sexuality ('private things') is increasingly seen in these so-called liberated times as precisely something that can now be flaunted in public. And this may perhaps be why going shirtless - whether when running, exercising or just chillin' - tends now to be associated with 'showing off', at least with some folks. It certainly didn't used to be so, by all accounts.
From this, we might take away the fact that, perhaps for most people, a sense of modesty is still bred into our social DNA, so that we reject 'flaunting for the sake of it', finding it uncouth and cheap. The challenge is to break through the misconception that running shirtless is inherently about that sort of thing. Sundry posts on this blog, of course, hopefully tell against this falsehood.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Creed of Shirtless Running

From time to time, there have been references on this blog to people 'converting' to shirtless running. This is just a figure of speech, mostly: In truth, of course, we happy converts hail - male and female - from every religion and belief system.

That said, in embracing our healthful practice, we can also see ourselves as standing up for certain 'higher' tenets that go beyond just 'Be Comfortable'. A brief summation of such a five-fold 'creed', entirely in keeping with most faiths, might run as follows:

(1) All Are Equal
When we run shirtless, or jogbraed, we voluntarily reject any need to clothe ourselves in fancy attire (though at night, reflective material should be part of our get-up). Our upper body is no longer an advertisement to our financial ability to afford special fabrics, or aesthetically pleasing clothing. We strip ourselves back to the essentials - we wear enough to protect our modesty, but that much anyone can afford.

(2) We Stay True To Our Beliefs
There is always the possibility that someone will demand we 'cover up', that unflattering comments may be directed our way. In ignoring such 'slings and arrows', we declare that we are people who strive not to compromise in doing what we believe is within our rights, where we do not impinge inappropriately on others' lives.

(3) We Declare Our Commonality
By stripping to the waist or jogbra, we dare to be jointly distinctive as a community, and effectively call out in solidarity to every other shirtless runner. This is the 'camaraderie' of being stripped-down together, a powerful oneness despite other differences.

(4) Our Bodies Are Temples
By committing to running and regular exercise, we respect our bodies and put health first (we could, after all, be the sort of 'comfortably shirtless' person who simply lounges about at home)

(5) We Are Unafraid To Set An Example
There is evidence that there are runners who feel constrained by being fully-shirted, yet feel too 'embarrassed' to reduce their attire-load. By presenting ourselves as exemplars, we may lead some to join us and overcome inhibition. Even people who never imagined there was freedom in running shirtless may be inspired by us.

* An important point missed, in your view? An element needs modifying? Just write in! *

Friday, March 12, 2010

From the Net: In defence of 'shirts vs skins'

One of the first times I came to realise that going shirtless while exercising was socially acceptable was via that great American tradition of 'shirts vs skins' team play. It's especially common in basketball. But it is, in some places, under siege - so highlighting the topic might be forgiven though this is a 'running-centric' site. Appended below is an editorial from the Orchard Farm Eagle Vision (click here for the original), a school publication.

Shirts vs Skins
by Preson Steinhoff

Is it wrong for a man to have his shirt off? Recently, the boy’s basketball team has been instructed to not take their shirts or jerseys off at any time or for any reason during basketball practice. This rule was made to decrease the spread of staph infection. Boys bumping and running into each other while being sweaty and shirtless may transfer a staph infection from one person to another. However, there is a very low percentage of kids, and even a lower percentage (exactly zero percent) of boys basketball players who even have staph. This makes the possibility of spreading staph infection at Orchard Farm High School practically non existent. Not allowing the basketball team to take their shirts off during practice is not only ludicrous, but also absurdly preposterous.

Why should our basketball team not be allowed to take their shirts off during practice like every other school allows their boys to do? I have played on various basketball teams throughout my short career and every basketball team I have played for has always allowed “Shirts and Skins” to be played. They often allowed this when players were hot, which happens frequently with exercise. Our school might be trying to be a leader on this issue, by starting this “no shirtless policy”. I have only one problem with our school being a leader, and that problem is; our school is leading in the wrong direction.

Playing “Shirts and Skins” has been a long lasting tradition in the history of basketball. Why should our school try to diminish this? Would you hate it if our school canceled Winter Break (a long lasting tradition)? The two situations are basically the same and should never be done. Our school believes that we should be able to wear our green and black reversible jerseys instead of going “Shirts and Skins”. This is okay, only until we split up into three teams, and there are only two colors. Being able to take off our shirts would allow us to play with three teams and eliminate this problem we are faced with.

Men don’t have to wear shirts in a swimming pool, (which could spread staph easily through the water), so why can’t they go shirtless in a basketball gym? It is not considered indecent exposure if a man has his shirt off. We are not practicing with women. Some may think that we are putting pressure on kids to take their shirts off, but there isn’t any pressure. Now I know that our school is not a swimming pool, but it is a public place and no one has complained or seemed offended by us practicing with our shirts off.

The boy’s basketball team being restricted from taking off their shirts in practice is extremely pointless. The team wants to be able to distinguish teams during practice. The team wants to keep the tradition of “Shirts and Skins”. The team wants their shirtless freedom! And finally, the team wants your help; the help of standing up to our school and letting them know how crazy it is to deny the boy’s basketball team the right to take their shirts off in practice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Guest post: Running shirtless, whatever the temperature

For what might be described as true dedication, it'd be hard to beat Tremendi, who blogs at Diary of a Cold Water Novice. Here's how he describes himself:

I'm just a normal guy experimenting with some new ideas. Trying to get physically fit, in shape and toughen up using some unorthodox methods, such as cold water immersion and pain control. I also like to run shirtless in "any weather, any temperature" as part of my normal routine. My blog describes some of those activities. Why not take a look at my blog and make a comment or two. Maybe it will inspire you to run shirtless too.

Here's a taste of Tremendi's discipline, in his own words:

"I haven't yet hit a low temperature that I wont run in. The distance that I will run may vary depending on the temperature but I don't think I have hit an absolute minimum yet. It has been quite cold in the UK this winter but I have continued to run shirtless (i.e. in just shorts and trainers) all of the time.

I will do my normal 7km (4+ miles) circular route from home shirtless in just about any weather and temperature (a few Mondays ago it was -2C windy and snowing so probably with wind chill around -5C or -6C conditions) and another weekend I ran 10km shirtless in -4C with clear and windless conditions for an hour with a group of 3 other guys (who were all dressed for a Siberian winter!). The coldest I have run shirtless in was just over 4km @ -6C with a fairly strong
wind chill.

If it was really cold (like below -10C) I would probably do shorter (500m to 1km) "out and back" runs so that I could quickly escape the cold if I got to a point where I was really feeling the effects of hypothermia.

In the USA, I think a great place to run in such cold conditions would be around the perimeter of a large shopping mall. Then if you got really cold you could duck into the shopping mall to warm up or cut back through to where you parked your car!

The more difficult question in my view is what is the highest temperature you would run in - that to my mind is a far more dangerous situation for a runner.

I haven't entered any races yet and here in the UK I think that for an actual race (unless its a fun run) you are required under the UK Athletics rules to wear a vest or shirt to display your race number - so that really sucks!. It would certainly be one question I would ask of the race organiser - "Can I run shirtless?" - before I entered the race."