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, February 3, 2015

[Guest post] Running shirtless - 'the common sense thing to do'

How one man became 'completely comfortable in his own skin'
by Henry
I grew up in high school not the most athletic person and therefore was very, very insecure with going around shirtless.......even at the pool I would wear a shirt.  I had pale skin, skinny arms and legs, and a gut.  When I did go running it was always with a shirt and I remember the shirt sticking to my skin and a gross feeling when I was done.  Indiana summers can be very unpleasant in terms of heat and humidity.  When I was in college I made a choice to better myself in mind and body.  I remember going to the gym at 6am in the cold Indiana autumn mornings and frigid Indiana winters with no one to spot me or work out with, but I had a goal, and that was to build my self-esteem by building my body.  It took a lot of self-motivation, but being on science scholarship meant I had to maintain all As in science and math, and to have good grades I needed a good regimented program.  By going to the gym I was getting into a healthy routine.  As spring came I noticed that I had a little more definition to my arms and upper body.  In the wintertime I did cardio strictly by swimming, but now it was spring and I wanted to get fresh air.

There was no transition into running shirtless.  I just realized that my physique looked passable enough to run with no shirt on.  I simply drove to the track, stripped my shirt off, applied suntan lotion, and I was off.  After only a few days I had a very healthy tan and felt completely comfortable in my own skin.  Whenever I saw another shirtless runner in better shape than me, it only solidified my motivation to get to the shape he was in.  Now I feel a sense of pride whenever I see a guy, start off running with a shirt on in 90 degree muggy heat until he sees me with no shirt on, eventually stripping his own off.  It's sort of a brief bond that develops between too complete strangers.  Even when I run 5ks I will start with a shirt on with the bib number applied to my shorts knowing at the end I'll be bare chested.  In the summertime I don't strip off in 5ks because I am trying to show off, but it just becomes the common sense thing to do when I can feel the heat and sweat radiating in between my skin and the cloth.  And chafed skin from wearing a shirt is in no way fun.  This upcoming summer I am hoping to run my first 10k, and I'll for sure be shirtless by the end of it.  I love going around outside shirtless and getting a sweet sun tan.  Now I will even do yard work and house painting minus the's the natural thing to do. 

Also, I sleep shirtless too now.  Again, I'm more comfortable in my own skin now and the shirt I've found is very uncomfortable to wear in a bed, even in the wintertime.


Anonymous said...

Glad you're enjoying shirtless running. I was self-conscious about my torso when I was younger too, and from that, developed some shirtless-phobia. In was only in my 20's that I started working on overcoming it. I run shirtless now, but I'm definitely in the lower echelon of runners. That's okay with me. I do it for psychological well-being and health.

You say you're not trying to show off. I agree it's common sense to exercise shirtless, but I think we worry too much about "showing off". Isn't running in a race, even in a shirt, "showing off". Isn't there some potential "display", some "performance", in any sport?

There's more "showing off" in human society, in one form or another, than is recognized as such. It's just that for some reason, some "showing off" is socially acceptable, others are less so. Who knows why?

Noel Idaho

Anonymous said...

Last October I trespassed one of my major limits: to run for a longer distance. Not that I am particularly overweight or that I am not into sports at all (I swim several times a week and commute by bicycle) but I knew running is simply the thing I can't do. However, photos from holidays showed full evidence that if I don't do anything extra, I will become far too heavy. As I want to enjoy fully the 2nd half of my life, running was the obvious choice. So this is how it all began. The decision was hard: a run before going to bed every night.
The first time was a horrible experience. After some 300 metres I had to pause, feeling as if I were to get a heart stroke. Ultimately I did 700 mts in two stages, still dressed in T-shirt. The following night was a bit better, but I took my shirt off at the pause more or less at the same spot. The third night I didn't take any shirt at all. A night or two later I felt I could manage the distance without pausing.

Yet later I began to extend distances, looping around the neighbourhood. The plan was to reach the park in my shirtless night runs so that, when winter begins, I could have a nice snowbath en route.

First frosty nights occured some time at the beginning of December. We don't have real winter here, but some nights were around minus 10, some warmer but with substantial wind. I was still fighting it all with my bare chest, wearing just shorts, cap, goggles and gloves. The distances since October grew to over 6 kms, and I see I can manage the run and cold without much problems. When it gets really cold, I take a hot shower after getting back home. When it's over zero, I take cold showers.

As for the snowbath - I am rather disapponted: we didn't have enough snow to dive in! What a strange winter this year...

Jacek, Lodz, Poland

Anonymous said...

I was also one of those kids who dreaded taking his shirt off. I was pale and skinny with no muscle tone. Summers in VA are rather hot and humid and many of my friends had pools, but since my parents did not let me wear a shirt at the pool, I stayed away as much as possible. I ended up going swimming about a half a dozen times every summer and it always felt good to be shirtless, although it was very hard to for me to do.

After I graduated high school I started running, and like you I hated having a shirt stuck to me. Eventually, I started taking my shirt off during my runs and now I am able to start my runs shirtless. I also found being shirtless helps other guy do the same, so I make it a point to never wear a shirt at the start my run or at races. Many times I have seen other guys toss their shirts to the side when they see me shirtless, especially since I am still skinny and pale. I think your goal this summer should include starting the race with no shirt at all, that way you will be truly free.

RandomShirtlessGuy said...

I was so skinny I dreaded anytime I had to take my shirt off in P.E. now I am barechested 24 hours a day. now that I think about it, I'd have been more motivated if the boys P.E. had mandatory shirtlessness for the boys.

Rex said...

Going barechested is a great feeling indoors and outdoors. It also helps with Vitamin D levels needed for good health. Shirtless running is the only way to go in summer. When I started running again after several years not running, it was easy to go with no shirt for the duration

Jake said...

I agree with RandomShirtlessGuy about the effect P.E can have on your attitude to shirtlessness as a boy. We had a system where some boys kept their shirts on for P.E but others were instructed to take them off and do the class in shorts only. It was basically the teacher's decision whether you went barechested or not. It felt like taking my shirt off was some kind of punishment and like you I dreaded it. That wouldn't have been the case if there had just been a barechested uniform for all boys, it would have been the same for everyone and therefore it would have seemed more natural.

Anonymous said...

Jake, my school was like that. However for reasons unknown the PE teacher's made me go barechested 99% of the time and also had others who were picked to strip more often than not. I find it ironic this has been stopped by the feminist brigade....the same people who when younger were always keen to watch lads strip to the waist and sweat in the gym..

Anonymous said...

Personally I found it motivated me when I was required to do PE barechested at school, knowing there would be girls watching. I wanted to look good in front of them so I worked harder to keep in shape and it seemed to work as I got a lot of compliments on my body!

Anonymous said...

My eldest son (11)has been joining me on the evening runs and has gradually gone from wearing a t shirt and vest, to going out in his vest. At the beginning of April, however, he said he wanted to drop his vest and join me running barechested.

He's happy and this was purely his choice. One month on, and despite changeable weather hasn't bothered with his vest. Just shows that if given a choice, boys prefer to strip down to exercise.

He is learning about his own image and can't work out why he can't go bare chest for PE. School is so different now....and not for the better ­čś»

Chris said...

It's great that your son prefers to run barechested and crazy that he isn't allowed to do PE with his shirt off too. It just shows how things have gone full circle since the days when I did PE and had to go barechested whether I wanted to or not!
Has your son asked to do PE without a shirt and been told no? If so, what reason did the school give him?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

I know what you mean ...I didn't have a choice either! My son has raised this with his PE teacher but the school have said that the kit is there for a reason. They did indicate that if it's warm enough and if there's enough support from others, then there maybe a possibility of just wearing a vest for athletics but that's it. Just hope English weather holds up!

Chris said...

I know what you mean about the English weather - that's where I'm from too!
I hope your son's school change their minds on this, it's a pity that they won't allow him to be barechested. I'm sure many other boys, if they saw how comfortable he is without a top on, would be encouraged to take their tops off too.