Down with sleeves

Posted: September 20, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I need to get something off my chest, er, arms. Namely, sleeves. When at the gym.

I’ve felt this way for a while, but have kept it to myself for fear of some sort of backlash, accusations of extreme vanity or general Guy Dudebro-ness. Now, I just don’t care. On Wednesday night, I turned another short-sleeve shirt into a cutoff, and the subsequent session gave me the courage to go public.

My no-sleeve preference is largely functional. I don’t have any cool tattoos or scars to display, and I’m hardly yoked. It’s just that working out – be it running or lifting or cross fitting or yoga-ing – without the restriction of sleeves is just more comfortable. That’s a fact; it’s the same principle that Charlie from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” uses in creating short jorts (see clip above). I’d go so far as to say it’s considerably more comfortable even at the risk of implying that my arms aren’t strong enough to overcome 6 inches of thin cotton.  And, for the record, the best shirts to cut off are plain-white Ts – they’re soft, light and cheap and look OK with any pair of shorts. And the best cut is halfway between the shoulder and the neck – anything more is too Mr. Olympia and anything more may require a roll or tuck maneuver.

An actual picture of TV in a sleeveless shirt.

My feelings about this have become stronger with age. Why? Because I seem to have acquired the old-man sweats, a sudden and profuse level of perspiration that is likely related to age. I’m not entirely opposed to this in that I enjoy sweating. OK, maybe enjoy isn’t the right word, but I’m certainly not opposed to it. Sweat is proof of productivity and/or warm air – I’m a fan of both. In a cruel twist, however, my old-man strength has yet to come in. (A quick description in the event that this is not a universal concept: Old-man strength is the inexplicable, car-lifting strength that a man acquires by merely aging; he doesn’t necessarily train or eat right or do anything to foster his muscular system, it just sort of happens. My dad – and probably your dad – has this in spades.)

The secondary benefit of bare arms: Motivation. That’s different than, if not entirely unrelated to, vanity. If you like the way you look, being able to see the fruit of your labor can be an affirmation that the work is worthwhile. Don’t like your arms? Then being forced to face them can help get you going. It works either way.

Ideally, the benefits of exercise would be strictly internal, the health benefits. But people want to feel good and look good – I get that. The sleeveless look gets a bad name when ego enters the picture, like Ron Burgandy hollering, “Hey, everyone: Come and see how good I look!” Or, less playfully, the meat heads from Jersey Shore. There’s a seed of truth in the stereotype. But not every san-sleeves sir (or ma’am) is trying to fit into that scene. (I’d argue that tanning is a bigger tell.)

Not wearing sleeves isn’t all that different than wearing sunglasses: There is an easy alternative and it can be construed as practical or fashionable. Yet shades don’t have the same stigma. Actually, maybe they do – I rarely wear them outside of a car. Then again, cutoffs might not have a bad rap, either; it’s not like anybody has spit on me (that I know of) for wearing them to the gym.

But maybe I deserve some sort of peer punishment for putting so much thought into the sleeveless movement.

  1. Rich Jensen says:

    I support the sunglasses comparison. Wearing the ‘homemade sleeveless’ look when not exercising is roughly equivalent to wearing sunglasses indoors. Each has its place.

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