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 barethomas@gmail.com) 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!

Monday, June 22, 2020

How I got hooked on running shirtless (guest post)


By Jon Adams

On a steamy June morning, I put on a pair of running shorts, shoes, and my fitness tracker watch, locked the door, and left my apartment for my morning run. You might have noticed I didn’t include “shirt” on that list — a nerve-wracking decision. Even though I wasn’t new to shirtless running, it was my first time doing it in this new neighborhood. I felt myself gravitating back towards my door as the elevator opened up to take me to the lobby. But I took a few deep breaths, saw nobody was coming (still skittish about my neighbors), and went down the elevator and to the park.

I had a great run. It was a lot better than my run the day before, where I wore a “moisture-wicking” singlet that was stiflingly hot and uncomfortable. But stripped to the waist, my run wasn’t just tolerable—it was fun and exciting. And go figure, as I rounded the corner, I saw another runner who had taken off his shirt in an effort to combat the humidity. Solidarity!

It took me a while to get here. Growing up, I was reluctant to take off my shirt. I didn’t like my family seeing me shirtless, and I surely didn’t want anyone else to either. I know a lot of women are jealous of men’s ability to be completely bare to the waist, but when I was a kid, I was actually jealous of women for not having to bare so much skin at the pool. So if you had told me at age 11 that one day I’d willingly run shirtless, I think I would have freaked out. 

Seven years later, I attended a university that was right across the street from one of my city’s most popular running trails. Like I said, my city is hot and humid, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary to see guys running without shirts. While it looked cool—both in the sense that these guys looked comfortable against the beaming sun and in the sense that these guys emanated confidence and a devil-may-care attitude— I wasn’t going to do it. I didn’t have six-pack abs or a chiseled body. I wasn’t even a good runner. But man, those guys were inspiring. 

Recently, a series of life events led me to start taking my health and fitness much more seriously. Though diet and exercise, I lost 30 pounds last year. Six-pack abs? Not quite, but I decided it was time. I’d drive back to that trail and run without a shirt. 

Of course, you can guess exactly what happened: I got out of my car, freaked out, and keep my shirt on. Three times. But the fourth time, something changed: I passed a guy running shirtless. I saw that as a divine sign of permission, took a deep breath, and peeled my t-shirt off. I ran a grand total of 900 feet. (I remember exactly because I have a fitness tracker.) I put my shirt back on, but I had the sense of accomplishment because, at least temporarily, I was a shirtless runner. 

Then one day, as I arrived at the track, I noticed three guys running together, all shirtless. No safety shirts. Full converts. I knew the time had come for me to do the same. So I took my shirt off, left it in the car, and took off running. That morning, I ran twice as far and had twice the fun. I was hooked. 

I’ve had quite a few stories since fully converting to shirtless running. I’ll share my favorites. One was when I arrived at the trail and saw a shirtless runner in the distance waiting for his friend. Once his friend arrived and stepped out of the car, he nodded his head and took off his shirt too. Another happened when I was walking back to my car after I’d finished a run. As I rounded the corner to the parking lot, I made eye contact with a guy wearing a t-shirt from his local running club, getting ready to start his jog. I was toweling, and not paying much attention until when I saw him again thirty seconds later. His shirt was gone. I can’t help but wonder if I was the reason he decided to go shirtless. 

But my favorite has to be when I met another shirtless runner. Around the 1.5-mile mark of my local running trail, there’s a bridge that serves as a rest stop for runners to take a breather. And there was this runner, who, like me, had decided to bare his chest on his evening run. 

“How you doing?” he asked me between breaths.

“I’m good,” I said. “Catching my breath, like you are.”

“Nice shirt,” he grinned.

“All the cool kids are doing it,” I quipped back. 

In closing, I hope you know this blog does more than inspire people to run shirtless—it inspires people, period. Running shirtless teaches you that you can make a difference, When that fellow runner I mentioned above took his shirt off after seeing me, it was probably because of my decision to run shirtless. My actions impacted others and made a difference. 

I know you advertise the three C’s for shirtless running as comfort, camaraderie, and convenience, but I’d like to propose a fourth: confidence. Consistently running shirtless reassures you that those fears of everyone judging you are unfounded. In contrast to my anxieties, nobody has ever given me flack for running shirtless. In fact, by this point, if someone ever did, I’d probably just ignore them because I like doing it. And doing what you want regardless of what others might think—now that’s confidence.

Anyhow, it’s getting late. I’m getting up at 5:30 a.m. to go running tomorrow. Shirtless, of course.

Happy trails!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is great on how you got insprired to run shirtless. I was shy as a kid as well and did not go shirtless even tough many other boys in the neighborhood did, during summer you did not think some of them even owned shirts.

About 8 years ago, i had a fitness goal and it was to be in good enough shape to be able to go running without a shirt in my neighborhood, and it worked. One day I went for run without a shirt and I have never worn a shirt running, except if it is too cold outside. People say hello and wave. One time recently someone yelled from thier car as they passed by, "Whoooooo", but nobody has ever been negative about it.

Jon said...

Thanks for reading, Anonymous! If you’d like to join fellow barechested brethren, check out the r/shirtlessrunners community on Reddit!

Happy trails!

piracua said...

Nice Story Jon. I have left my apartment shirtless several times, specially in the early morning, well, you know, the odds of finding someone else are very low at 5:00 AM and when I’m back i don’t usually cros my way with my neighbors, but it is different when it comes to go running at the end of the day, there are kids playing, parents watching and the trail is crowded: couples with baby’s, dogs, cyclists, runners... The trail where I run goes through the town for about a mile, after that, there’s a sort of threshold where it takes out of the town, so less families and more serious runners, very close to that point, there’s a nice sign where I usually hang my shirt, make the rest of the run shirtless and take my shirt back when coming back. Today, something nice happened when I was starting my warmup walking I passed a guy that was also walking I was walking fast almost to start running, but we greeted each other I asked him: walking or running? he told me he wasn’t in good enough shape to run, I explained him what I was doing and to encourage him I told him he looked in good shape. I continued my way, arrived to my threshold, took my shirt off and enjoyed my run. Running shirtless definitely energizes my, it was a very charming afternoon, hot, shiny and a delicious fresh breeze blowing, man! I was having my time! When I was coming back I saw a guy running shirtless in the oposite direction when we got closer I noticed it was the same guy I had encouraged! I told him: Well done! And he looked very happy. It was nice, I think I encouraged him double: to run and to do it shirtless! Then, I recovered my shirt, didn’t want to put it back, I was so sweat! And guess what, I passed by another sign in the trail hung my shirt there (it is an old one) and arrived home shirtless at 7:30 pm. I thought: I don’t care what time is it, I will never run with a shirt again during summer! Now my summer apparel is: shoes, shorts and watch, and sometimes only shoes and shorts! By the way, I wonder what has happened with my shirt, if I find it tomorrow, I will reclaim it but won’t wear it but to dry my sweat, or perhaps I’ll leave it hanging there as a reminder of today’s decision, what do you think?

Jordan said...

Great story, Jon! Thanks for sharing. I related to so much of it, especially your reluctance to be seen without a shirt when you were growing up and finally embracing it as an adult. I enjoyed the "Nice shirt" comment too, I'll have to use that sometime.

Even now I'm not a consistently shirtless runner, but today there was a light rain so I left my shirt in the car to keep it dry. The feeling of the rain on my skin was amazing, felt so much better than a soaked t-shirt would have. Definitely one of the best experiences I've had with shirtless running!

Jon said...

Hello friends!

I actually had written this piece back in 2019. Now I’ve packed on a quarantine 15, so I too am not consistent these days, Jordan. I very much miss running shirtless, though, and can’t wait to be skinny enough to feel confident doing it again.

You know, perhaps a discord would work better than a reddit to keep the shirtless flag flying: https://discord.gg/FfEe8nK

DJK said...

Anybody know of any gyms in Los Angeles (besides muscle beach, of course) where men are allowed to lift/workout shirtless?

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