Whether your immediate reaction to this article was, “Of course I go commando, doesn’t everyone?!” or “What! That’s so… weird!”—you’re not alone.
According to a small survey done by Cottonelle in 2015, about 8 percent of women say they “always” go commando in yoga pants, while 25 percent admit to doing it “sometimes.” Surprised? “[Going commando] is not something you talk about,” says Julie Sygiel, a gym commando convert. “You just assume that everyone does the same thing you do, so you never know.”
Sygiel was a little unsure about the practice until she tried it. “The first time [I went commando], I went on a short run and felt so free. It sounds really corny, but I was like, ‘This is a game changer!”
Whether you’re simply intrigued or ditched down-unders years ago, there are a few things to know to keep your commando style healthy.
A Briefing on Going Sans Briefs
“I’ve been going commando as long as I’ve been working out,” says Charlotte, a devotee who preferred we not use her last name. “I didn’t realize it was weird until someone mentioned it to me at the gym.”
Evann Clingan, a fitness blogger based in NYC agrees. “When I do, it’s often when I’m running,” she says. “Especially in the summer, it’s really hot, and the shorts that I wear have the built-in trunks. It’s more comfortable without the extra layer.”
If you’re in their camp or thinking about joining them, breathe a sigh of relief: For the most part, there’s nothing inherently wrong or unsanitary about skipping your skivvies when working out. Wearing underwear provides a second layer of protection between you and the bacteria of the outside world, but you don’t necessarily need it.
“As long as what you’re wearing is thick enough so you don’t get any bacteria that’s on a seat at the gym, [going commando] is sanitary,” says Raquel Dardik, M.D., an OB/GYN at NYU Langone Medical Center. And let’s face it: No one wants to wear paper-thin or see-through pants anyway. (Just to be safe, wipe down benches with disinfectant before using them, and lay down a towel first for further protection.)