Calling all exercise fanatics seeking new adventures in intuitive fitness: consider participating in the up-and-coming experience of raw naked movement! Engaging in a naked workout calls for the liberation of spirit and the mind-body connection to invigorate a fitness program. Here’s the skinny on fitness in the buff and what personal trainers need to know about clients who are intrigued.

New Thoughts on Nudity

Imagine feeling comfortable in your own skin, rather than self-conscious. Can exercising in the absence of clothing, whether constrictive Lycra or baggy cotton, help individuals practice and embody the fine art of self-acceptance?

So often women ask their partners, or each other, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” Perhaps participating in a solo session of naked yoga can liberate these individuals, helping them shed negative feelings about their bodies.

If you read this and think, “How can I possibly suggest this to my clients?”, please keep reading. The topic first intrigued me and after delving into the material, it truly morphed into something bigger and deeper than I would have imagined. It’s natural to be skeptical or resistant to bucking societal norms.

Naked Workout Popularity Rising

Nude Yoga Girl, a fitness blogger, shares her thoughts on the topic of practicing yoga in the buff:

“Nowadays we easily determine how much we are worth with materialistic things. A new car, luxury handbags or design furniture. We see ourselves as much better if we have a well-trained body and our hair is shining after the hairdressers. Or am I wrong? I am only on my first steps in the journey towards understanding all of this fully. I’ve however noticed that instead of pursuing wealth and pleasure, I pursue something much more permanent and fundamental.”

Even women who bear scars resultant of surgery or childbirth, or perhaps carry a bit of extra weight gravitate towards this new wave of the exercise experience. Self-appreciation and esteem, often lacking in today’s harshly judgmental, youth-centric society, seem to surface, perhaps for the first time in many years when one embraces fitness as an avenue to reclaiming oneself.

As a footnote, most if not all of the women who post/blog on the topic of nake fitness echo a common sentiment: naked yoga has nothing whatsoever to do with sex.

Historical Perspectives on Naked Workouts

The portrayal, care, and flaunting of the human form stem directly from current attitudes toward sexuality, gender, and the existing moral code. All of these entities tend to fluctuate throughout history. The ancient Greeks, who first introduced the concepts of nude competitive sport, worshiped the naked male form.

Not surprisingly, the world’s first gymnasiums originated at the time, and conjure up the mythological figure known as Narcissus. Physical beauty ranked highly as an attribute, equal to if not exceeding cerebral accomplishments.

The Romans, at the opposite end of the spectrum, bore much more suspicion of the body and all pleasures associated with the human physique. Considered “sinful” until the Middle Ages, nudity as a practice largely vanished. Only upon entering the Renaissance Period, during which time the artistic masterpieces such as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus’’ and Michelangelo’s “David’’ graced the scene, did nudity once again reclaim a visible presence.

Still, many critics maligned such works as an awkward mélange of pagan depictions and religious (mostly Christian) ideals. Historians seem divided on the actual reasons for the ancient clothes-free competitions. Some claim that having to compete nude separated the upper-classes from the working classes, as the pampered rich were able to train more frequently, thus cultivating a more “buff” physique.

Whatever the ancient Greeks’ reasons for engaging in this pursuit, a modern wave of fitness enthusiasts have once again embraced the idea of naked exercise.

Swimming in the Birthday Suit

Nigel Marsh, founder and organizer of the annual Sydney Skinny nude swimming event in Sydney Harbor, says, “Being naked is emancipating. It strips life back to its essentials, forces you to accept your real self and shake off the shackles modern society so often puts on us.”

Michael Connolly, the founder of the Australian Naturist News and an avid participant in nude bushwalking, says that while Australia remains on the conservative end with regard to clothing-optional fitness pursuits, he anticipates an upswing in the number of individuals who express and interest in giving such activities a try.

“This may sound like a cliché, but you really do feel like you’re more connected to your environment. And it’s more comfortable – your body temperature regulates better without clothes and you can feel the sun, the wind, the elements…Relaxing nude is more relaxing than being clothed, as you literally strip away all cares and pretensions of daily life.”

The Sydney Skinny demonstrates proof of the rise in willingness to participate in outdoor pursuits au natural– what began as a fairly small event in 2013 now attracts more than 700 naked swimmers.

“I’m not an expert in why there’s global growth but I believe that people the world over are crying out for chances to be authentic and stop pretending,” Nigel Marsh says. “Maybe they see in nude events a welcome absence of bullshit, a chance to celebrate what unites us rather than divides us. It’s more difficult to be an anti-social jerk while swimming naked with 1000 other people in one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbors.

[In the Sydney Skinny] people come out of the ocean feeling happier, more positive, kinder and more connected. Without being religious, there’s a ‘baptismal vibe’ to it. You come out of the water somehow cleansed and focused anew on the future and what you can make of it.”

More than Skin-Deep

The naked workout movement promotes the notion of connecting with oneself on a deep level, and through that process, fostering more intimate connections with the environment. Psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack likens taking part in a naked event to bungee jumping.

“It takes (individuals) right out of their comfort zone but in a safe environment,” she explains. “For others, it can be about stripping back the pretenses and being at one with themselves and with nature, without the trappings of society.” Dr. McCormack expounds on this further: “Nudity, in this non-sexual way, can be a great leveler. People report feeling at peace and without awkwardness about their bodies and how they look. But it’s not for everyone.”

In her book entitled Naked Fitness, author Andrea Metcalf shares a unique perspective on this rapidly growing trend:

“Naked fitness is about stripping away all the clutter that stops you from getting your wonderful, beautiful body into the best shape possible. It’s about breaking down the barriers and fears that are keeping you from becoming motivated and staying on track. It’s about learning how to move your body without pain, align it to its fullest potential, and recognize how the correct alignment impacts your daily health.”

Lauren Mackler, Life Coach and author of Solemate, shares the following:

“By going outside your comfort zone, you’re gaining new experiences, meeting new people, gaining new knowledge and skills, and strengthening different parts of yourself…You’re automatically expanding your comfort zone. This means even if you find out something doesn’t work you know what to do next time. It gives you a chance to ‘course correct’ – to explore what works best.”

Give the Naked Workout a Try

Experts have offered suggestions to those interested in tiptoeing into the world of naked fitness. If expanding your horizons appeals to you, or your clients, the following ideas may help to take control of and conquer the unknown:

·      Write up a pros and cons list
·      Identify and manage your fear
·      Tune in to your own intuition
·      Build resilience through practice and repetition
·      Most of all, have fun!

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Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at She welcomes your feedback and your comments!