Wait a Second, Is Working Out Naked a Thing?

At least one Hollywood actor is into "birthday suit sessions." But why?

A naked Olympian throwing a javelin.
When in Rome? Try to keep your pants on.
Photo by The Print Collector/Heritage Images via Getty Images

The weightlifting area of my gym has a sign with a few basic rules:

  • No children at any time
  • Re-rack your weights
  • Please keep your shirt on

I’ve never actually seen any of these rules enforced. People know better; kids can easily jam their fingers between plates, leaving weights out is a dirtbag move and more than anything, walking around the gym floor without a shirt on is a cardinal sin.

No one needs to see that, for starters, but more importantly, no one wants a sweaty surprise when sitting against the leather back of a machine.

It’s possible this social norm is bothersome to a variety of gym-goers, though, if other trainees have anything in common with 61-year-old actor Christopher Meloni. The Wet Hot American Summer star, who just made his return to Law and Order: SVU, shared in a recent interview that he doesn’t only work out without a shirt on — he prefers to train completely nude.

To be clear, Meloni isn’t dropping his drawers at a local Equinox. He said to People: “I work out naked. It’s my gym…I can do whatever I want. And I don’t black out the window. And I’m okay with that. My wife is not.”

Is there a point to this? We can only speculate. Keep in mind that Meloni is riding a late-career wave of professional success and internet fascination. Last year around this time, a Twitter photo of his derriere went viral (it’s impressively taut, not going to lie) and legions of young ass-worshippers began to “stan” Meloni’s buttocks. It’s possible that Meloni is only trying to keep those vibes coming in, and feels most motivated to perform his box jumps and pullups when he’s showing as much skin as possible.

Plus, his approach to fitness is as Woodstock-y as his uniform. He describes fitness as “Therapy, church, meditation, and a kind of personal reengagement where the brain and the body get to talk to one another.”

Is it safe or smart to work out without any clothes on, though? Are there any hidden benefits at play here? That’s unlikely. Medical experts point out that you might be able to correct misalignments in your form, once clothing’s out of the way. But activewear can be pretty form-fitting these days. Taking it all off feels extreme.

If anything, there are benefits to taking one’s shoes off in the gym. Performing barefoot squats allows the toes to spread wide and grip the floor, while eschewing the rocky, cushioned platform on offer from most athletic shoes (imagine trying to do lunges on a pillow).

The nudists have made their presence known well enough over the years that Meloni definitely has secret support here. If you’re having trouble believing that, just go to the track or park in the next few weeks, and take note of how many of your neighbors are gleefully ripping off their shirts for outdoor workouts.

All power to them. That’s some serious body positivity at play. If they dare go all the way, though, let’s hope for their sake they don’t try it at the public gym. That’s one rule that’ll have to be enforced.

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