New York: Have you ever been wobbling uncontrollably in a half-formed downward dog, or soaked with sweat in a spin class and thought to yourself, ‘this would be so much better if I was naked?’
A surprising number of people seemingly have – and some evidence even suggests that it’s not as absurd as it sounds. Naked yoga, naked swimming clubs, naked bike rides and naked gym classes all seem to be gaining popularity, with suggested benefits including increased self-esteem and body positivity.
While it may be making a comeback, exercising naked is a practice that is rooted in history. The Anglo-Saxon monosyllable “gym” is a contraction of the Greek word “gymnasion,” which translates to “school for naked exercise”.
The Ancient Greeks ritually exercised in the nude, and the dress code for the Ancient Olympic games was nothing more than a pottery flask full of oil to grease up with.
In a much less violent movement, The World Naked Bike Ride is a perfect example of the nude revolution. For one day every year, tens of thousands of bikers take to the streets in hundreds of cities around the world in a protest against oil dependency and car culture, but also as an unbridled celebration of the naked body.
Founded in 2004, it aims to “deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world” and the official line on the dress code is “bare as you dare.” While some will find naked exercise liberating, the thought of parading your bare body around a city is pure horror for most people. Not to mention the inevitable saddle burn.
For the latter group, there are lots of other options that you can enjoy within the confines of four walls.
The nudist group Naturist London hosts a popular Sunday Swim event at the pool of the University of London where no booking or membership is required.