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Washington and Lee University

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A Statement from the Director of Athletics

An article has circulated in the media recently raising questions about the attire policy in the University's Fitness Center.  We want to assure the W&L community that our policies were instituted in 2002, when our fitness center opened, and were developed after conducting research regarding the best practices in use in collegiate fitness centers around the country. Our policies apply equally to men and women, and are in place for health and safety reasons, including, but not limited to, preventing skin infections, to agree with best practices of fitness center usage, and to preserve the long-term life of the equipment.

There has been some confusion regarding the rationale for our policy, and we apologize for the lack of clarity behind it. We have made revisions to the policy in response to the comments we have received to date, and have made information about our policies more widely available in our facilities in an effort to clarify the requirements. The FAQ document on this website provides additional background on our process and rationale.

We have also been working with Fitness Center staff to ensure they understand the policy and how to enforce it fairly.

The revised policy is available below, along with a statement from our University Physician about the transmission of skin infections. If you have comments about the policy, we encourage you to share them through the Fitness Center Feedback form. We will also hold a public forum for members of the W&L community who wish to ask questions and provide feedback on the policy on Thursday, May 5,  from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Outing Club Room of Elrod Commons.

- Jan Hathorn, Director of Athletics


Fitness Center Policies 

1. The following groups have access to the Fitness Center:

  • W&L University undergraduate students
  • W&L University Law students and their spouses/domestic partners
  • W&L employees and their spouses/domestic partners, and college-age and younger dependents
  • W&L alumni living in Rockbridge County and their spouses/domestic partners, and college-age and younger dependents

2. All users under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

3. All users are asked to be courteous and refrain from foul language and inappropriate actions and conversations.

4. For the health and safety of all users, including, but not limited to, preventing skin infections, and to preserve the long-term life of the equipment, all users must wear proper fitness attire including a t-shirt/tank top, shorts/sweat pants, and closed-toe athletic shoes.

Examples of attire that would not meet this standard include the following:

  • Sleeveless shirts with the arm holes or gaps open below the bottom of the shoulder blades.
  • Shirts that expose parts of the abdominal area, rib cage, and/or the lower back, front or sides of the torso. (For the purposes of this policy the lower back is the area below a horizontal line under the shoulder blades.)

NOTE: The Fitness Center Director or his/her designee reserves the right to determine whether a user's attire meets the standard set forth above. Individuals whose attire does not meet this standard may be asked to change. If they fail to comply with a request to change, individuals may be asked to leave the Fitness Center. Please note that attire that meets this standard is available at the equipment desk.

5. Clothing or accessories with inappropriate or offensive graphics and/or language are not permitted.

6. All users must sign in at the front desk.

7. No food is permitted in the Fitness Center.

8. Drinks are permitted in the Fitness Center, but must be in non-glass containers with secure screw lids.

9. All users must clean up after themselves when using the Fitness Center.  This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Wiping down cardio and strength equipment after use
  • Returning all equipment to its proper place
  • Returning magazines to the front desk
  • Placing used towels in the towel drop by the glass entrance/exit doors

10. Do not rest bars on benches and do not drop weights, especially the dumbbells.

11. Fitness Center towels are not to be removed from the Fitness Center. This includes group fitness classes!

12. Users may not bring outside personal trainers into the W&L Fitness Center to conduct personal training sessions.

13. Users may play music on their personal devices using personal headphones, but may not otherwise bring in their own music systems and/or play unauthorized music that may be heard by others.