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5 Reasons Men Should Not Do Gym Workouts in Flip-Flops

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Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men & women for fat loss, muscle building, more strength and more fitness.


Every so often a man ignores a gym’s rules and conducts his workout wearing flip-flops. Are you one of them? Have you looked at your toes and toenails lately? Eeeuuww!

Here’s five reasons men should never work out in flip-flops.

Flip-flops Belong in Your Locker, not on the Gym Floor

From time to time I notice that a man at the gym is wearing flip-flops – while he’s lifting weights or pedaling a bike, even when he’s on a treadmill. What’s up with this?

The ones who are lifting weights in flip-flops are younger, while the ones on cardio equipment in flip-flops are almost always older. Age aside, this habit needs to change yesterday.

#1 It’s Uncouth and Disgusting

I’ll be frank: Most men do not care what their feet look like – as in, they allow their toenails to become filthy and overgrown. Sometimes they appear to have a fungal infection (are yellow or have a brown or yellow crust on them). Their toes are hairy and often, the skin about their heels is scaly and dirty. Yeeeuck!

Of course, you don’t have to look at a man’s bare feet while he’s bench pressing or curling a bar nearby. But at some point, your eyes may innocently sweep towards his feet before you know he’s in flip-flops.

And for that moment, you catch sight of those toes and toenails. You grimace, think “Gross!” and look away. But from that point forward, you know his feet are exposed.

The world today is one with an increasing number of “influencers” preaching that you should not care what anyone thinks of how your body looks. However … this is a lot different: overgrown, sometimes claw-like toenails, often with black dirt under them. If the nails are yellow, brown or crusty, this is even more stomach-turning.

I know it’s a childish expression, but it’s so fitting to say: “Eeeeuuww!” While many women keep their feet clean, and toenails clean and trimmed, many men just let their dogs go to the dogs.

#2 It Violates Gym Rules

Please, have some respect for the gym’s rules. They’re not too difficult to follow nor unreasonable. Even if a gym doesn’t have a sign that overtly states, “Flip-flops not allowed,” you still should respect the workout environment and wear appropriate footwear.

One day I was so disgusted by a man’s dirty feet in flip-flops in the free weight area, that I reported it to management. Call me what you wish, but management wasted no time sending the man home to get appropriate footwear. Shortly after he returned wearing socks and sneakers.

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I had been working out nearby this guy, and even though I can easily view the gruesome aftermath of shark attacks, I cannot stomach knowing that near me are yucky grubby feet and unkempt toenails that wouldn’t know soap from orange juice. At a beach or swimming pool, fine. But NOT AT A GYM!


#3 It Compromises Your Workout

If it’s upper body day, flip-flops won’t matter as far as training efficacy. But what if you have an urge to do several minutes’ worth of finisher sets – including some sprints on a treadmill or down the gym’s track? Aw shucks! You can’t because you’re in flip-flops!

That aside, more than once I’ve seen men performing the back squat in flip-flops. Now, I may not be the world’s foremost authority on this powerlifting move, but I can confidently state that your best squat session will never occur with flip-flops.

I’ve seen men squatting in just their socks, too, but at least their feet are covered up.

In real life, if you had to squat down to pick something heavy up, chances are you’ll be wearing shoes at that time. If you’re a competitive powerlifter, you’ll need to wear shoes for a meet. So what’s the point of wearing flip-flops when training?

You can’t jump well in flip-flops, either. So if you suddenly decide to add some jumping drills in between leg or upper body routines, you’re screwed.

#4 It’ll Make a Weight Dropping on Your Foot Kill

But you’re extra careful, right? Doesn’t matter. Anyone who regularly works out in the free weight area knows that sooner or later, when he or she least expects it, a weight or plate will drop on their foot.

Furthermore, even if you believe you're super extra careful, what if someone else is careless – right when you’re nearby preoccupied with your phone or whatever?

For instance, someone places a dumbbell on a rack…but not quite in there…and it drops smack on your toes. Anything can go wrong with loose metal weights. Good luck. There’s also the risk of stumbling over a plate or dumbbell left out on the floor.

#5 You Won’t Be Ready for an Emergency

My niece one day asked her powerlifting husband why, whenever they go out in public, even on a hot day, he wears socks and sneakers. His response: “So I’m ready.” Flip-flops are not tactical to my nephew-in-law. I agree with him.

Though it’s extremely unlikely that something will ever happen inside a health club or gym that will require your fastest and most agile movements inside the building…wouldn’t it still be nice to know that in an emergency, your feet will be ready to go from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible?

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