Alec Jiggins, 29, joined Holmes Place Health Centre in April this year and has worked out there three or four times a week ever since.

He attends instructor-led sessions as well as training independently at the health and fitness club in Links Way, Farnborough.

But last week Mr Jiggins' training was interrupted when a member of staff said he would have to change into a T-shirt or get out.

A dumbfounded Mr Jiggins was told that the training vest he was wearing was inappropriate and that he had breached the centre's dress code.

Mr Jiggins, of Old Cove Road in Fleet, who pays about £50 a month to use the facility, said: "I asked him why and he said it was club rules that men were not allowed to wear vests.

"I asked why it was club rules but he just said he wasn't going to get into all that but that I would have to change or leave the gym."

He continued: "I went downstairs and they gave me a T-shirt so I could carry on training and I asked the manager on duty about it.

"She told me it was because it was unhygienic, because sweat would get on the machines, and because it is ‘visually intimidating' to the club's women members.

"Well, firstly, I always wipe the machines down afterwards anyway and, secondly, there are women working out in vests and bra tops and that doesn't seem to be a problem."

Mr Jiggins says the club's approach to dress code is inconsistent and feels the club is discriminating against its male members.

"I think it's totally unfair and I can't see their logic behind their reasons for it," he added.

"If they are saying it's offensive to female members then they should address the whole issue."

But a spokeswoman for Holmes Place defended the policy.

She said: "Holmes Place provides a product at the premium end of the market offering first time visitors and enthusiasts the opportunity to exercise seriously.

"Efforts are taken to ensure that Holmes Place maintains a standard of service commensurate with members' expectations, which we achieve through the level of fit-out, the facilities available and the regulation of our members."

She continued: "Dress codes are nothing new and restrictions on dress are imposed not to discriminate between the sexes but to maintain what Holmes Place considers, based upon a long operating history, is a level of dress conducive to the quality, atmosphere and comfort of the club for the benefit of all members, male and female."

Answering the criticism that the vest policy discriminates against men, the spokeswoman said: "The general policy is that members, male and female alike, are required to wear appropriate attire within the gym.

"Any member wearing inappropriate clothing will be asked to change or to refrain from using the gym."

She added: "Experience shows that without the rule there is a corresponding increase in that category of member whose presence intimidates other members, be they male or female, first-timers or experienced exercisers.

"Experience shows that women wearing vests do not tend to intimidate other members.

"Were they to do so, or their dress was for any other reason considered to be inappropriate, they would be required to cover up or refrain from using the gym."