Shirt Story

Boys and Their Shirts:

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Today’s boys can be so different from how we were! I’ve been musing over the behaviour of boys in regard to their shirts, observed in our particular gym-related sports experience.

There are those boys who rip their shirts off at every possible opportunity, revelling in the feel of the air on their skin, enjoying the freedom of movement. Willing to be shirtless so often that it can get them into trouble! We, and my son Leo and his sporty mates, definitely fall into that category. But, amongst the ‘boys of 2015’, I would say not more than about 5% fit into that category.

Then there are those boys who will usually pull their tops off after warm-up before commencing any strenuous training in the gym:

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Amongst gymnasts in our local centre, this is probably about 30% of the boys. Sometimes we coaches insist they do take their tops off, so we can check that they are using their muscles correctly.

Category 3 is the smaller number of boys still who eventually pull of their tops (or push their leotards down) when they have decided that there are now sufficient other boys working shirtless that no-one will be particularly looking at them – perhaps another 30%.

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Some of these boys, though, seem to have a phobia of their body accidently touching another boy’s body, skin on skin. We notice this if we propose a ‘shirts v skins’ game at some point in the session – some shirts go back on in the hope that they can be in the ‘shirts’ team, whilst others still in their shirts are horrified if selected to play ‘skins’.

But, most odd (to us) of all are the boys who, if they need just to change one shirt for another, will go and lock themselves in an individual cubicle rather than expose their chest in front of anyone else. I’ve noticed specific individuals always arrive early enough to grab one of these limited facilities rather than change for training in the general changing area with the others. And, here in 21st -century USA, these are in the majority.

Some of these even shun vests, settling only for a tee-shirt. And we see guys in the pool in tee-shirts rather than in ordinary swim shorts or trunks. This, apparently, embarrasses or disturbs them in some way…

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Unbelievable to us, but there you are. I wonder what they would do on a beach, if there was one anywhere near here. Not this, for sure:

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And as for ‘pasty’ skin colour… Vitamin ‘D’ deficiency surely beckons for such guys…

I suppose it is encouraged too by weights gyms where the popular chains insist on shirts, perhaps so as not to offend the ladies or for unfathomable ‘health and safety reasons’. And of course, by the regular ‘NS3’ mantra in establishments all over: ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service’.

So what, exactly, is wrong with this:

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If you’re going to sweat (and you are, if you work out properly), let it evaporate rather than soak into a shirt which then sticks claggily to you as you move. if you get any sweat on the apparatus or bench, wipe it up!  And what, exactly, is the point of a ‘shirt’ like this?

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If you’ve got it, flaunt it! The gay amongst us will be delighted, and everyone should be inspired to improve their own bodies.

So. ‘Evening dress’ in our household is no shirts and barefoot. Comfort first. And, yes, more than a little pride in our appearance. I like to enjoy the sight of a great ‘ripped’ body at any time, appreciating the work that has gone into creating it and having an empathy with its owner. And, before school in the morning, Leo and the gang will be hard at in our training cabin, certainly shirtless and barefoot and maybe even more – all guys together, enjoying what they do, and ‘comfortable in their skins’. Then they will show up for school Phys Ed session, pulling their shirts off and hoping to stay that way, whilst half of the rest of the class recoil in horror in case they are forced to do the same! And the present coaches, by and large, seem to support ‘shirts ON’. Unlike the amazing Andy who was our coach, as you can read here:

Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

We are privileged to be members of a private gym where the usual weights-gym rules are inverted. Chad posts a sign “You want to see your muscles develop, and so do we! No shirts to be worn in this facility…” It goes on to permit zero clothing too, within the closed group. That’s all in the books as well.

The ‘health and safety’ craze also means these days that guys on building sites, even in high summer heat, have to wear high-viz jackets, hard hats and steel-toed boots. So you’ll see an awful lot less of this nowadays:

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Oh well. For now, here, some more excellent examples of the shirt-free classes, doing what they love to do…

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p-bar turn

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Here’s a ‘shirt v skin wrestle pic…

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That looks a bit ‘posed’… but why does the boy underneath need a tee-shirt? And I guess the trainers and socks are in deference to ‘collegiate-style’, which the boys are forced into in school (and in lycra suits!) whereas we like NHB submission style. Oh well.

At least Dutch aero-gym dudes get their shirts off en masse!

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Quite a range of body types there, some clearly require some weights work and weight-loss activities…but it’s all guys together and shirt-free, nonetheless. Well done, The Netherlands! And, after all, you are the ones whose public swimming baths encourage total nudity, at least after 8pm…

Fancy a trip, Dave? The beaches there can be quite fun, too…

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About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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