The Gym Locker Room: A World of Its Own

It has come to my attention that the gym locker room exists in a universe of its own.

The "rules” and social norms that exists outside of the tiled walls do not apply in said space. Instead the locker room defies common sense, courtesy, and civil expectations, for a culture of shocking practices.

I have invested a large amount of time in the locker room, not out of choice but rather out of obligation, and in doing so, I have noticed a common thread: weirdness.

While what is considered “weird” by one person many be considered completely normal to another, I firmly believe that we can all see the “weirdness” in the following observations. Humor me, if you will:

  1. The application of three-foot hair extensions over a two hour period. Neither the place, nor time.
  2. Not wiping up the remnants of said hair extensions as they are completely covering the  counter top. I’ve always wanted to gave long black hairs clinging to all of my stuff. Thank you.
  3. Bending over, in your party suit, with you rump perfectly in front of someone’s face as you bend down. Not necessary.
  4. As one woman is sitting at the counter applying her make-up, another naked woman comes up behind her to access the hair dryer. Because the hair dryer cannot be moved, the nude woman proceeds to spend five solid minutes drying her hair, standing right next to the other woman, with no concern of her naked state. Use a towel. They’re free.
  5. The news is on in the locker room for a reason. Just because you are spending thirty minutes getting ready and have a different choice of what you would like to listen to does not mean you should play music out loud from your crappy smartphone so everyone can enjoy your musical preference. I’ve heard more Adele than I can handle.
  6. The gym is a place to get ready in the morning. However, it is not the place to spread your entire make-up collection, your personal magnifying mirror, all of your products, and all of your appliances at one time, then proceed to spend an hour and a half perfecting your glamorous state. It’s only Tuesday.
  7. The gym is smart enough to provide a “lounging” area outside of the locker room. This area has big couches, a TV and tables. If one must conduct conference calls or do two hours of work (yes, you were there when I arrived and as I left), please do you business outside of the locker room. Not only is it better for us, but more sanitary for your keyboard!
  8. If you find something in the shower, it would behoove you to turn it into the lost and found. My bathing suit, goggles and swim cap that I left last week would be a perfect example. I really can’t fathom the benefits of keeping someone else’s bathing suit. Sicko.

Albeit, my observations have been of the female species, I’m willing to bet that such oddities have been experienced in a men’s locker room as well.

Tell me, what are some of the weird observations that you’ve captured in the locker room?

Happy Running!

P.S. There are no photos in this post because that would be, well, weird.

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26 Responses to The Gym Locker Room: A World of Its Own

  1. Cheree says:

    Holy cow, I just posted about weird locker room stuff this morning! Coincidence? Check it out here: http://dolphyngyrl.blogspot.com/2012/04/open-letter-to-gym-goers.html

  2. Jen says:

    This isn’t particularly weird, but I hate it when people eat in the locker room. It just seems unsanitary to me.

  3. April B says:

    OMG – you are so right! Women are so weird. I can not take the people that get ready naked in front of the mirror at the gym. Even if they’re comfortable with it, I’m not. There are ladies that will engage in deep conversations with not a stitch of clothing on in my gym locker room. It’s, um, distracting.
    Sadly, I’m sure the offenders are clueless and won’t change.

  4. Jojo says:

    Bummer… I was REALLY hoping for a visual of the hair extension application session. :/

  5. Kimra says:

    I often wonder who has TIME for whatever it is that they’re doing! Like, a full blow-out plus hot rollers plus intense weekend-level makeup. I’m weirdly impressed, because that’s a lot of stuff to tote around, but if I wanted to look that good for work, I probably just wouldn’t go to the gym beforehand.

  6. Holly says:

    Um I just go in to wash my hands and pass more naked females of the older variety in 2 min than I ever encountered in 2 years of nursing school! Love this post – so so true!! Luckily I work with babies so I only encounter small cute baby romps now!

  7. XLMIC says:

    Once I saw a chick …naked, of course…clipping her toenails while sitting on the bench…no towel between her and bench, of course…and then walk away from clippings w/o a second thought. Skeeved me right out.

    And yeah on the swimsuit thing! My daughter has ‘lost’ two brand-new swimsuits at her team practice in the past 2 months. Why does someone want her worn suits? Again, skeeved right out.

  8. Nelly says:

    That is a real bummer that you lost all your swim gear in the locker room. That is annoying to have to replace all that. Yea, why couldn’t someone turn that into the lost and found?

    Your stories about the girls locker room are just like the guys, lol. Everytime I walk into the locker room, it always smells like fungus everywhere, and there is massive humidity in there – like they need more ventilation or something. I refuse to take a shower or change in there, I always change at home or at work. Too gross for me in there! haha Probably the worst story that I can think of in the locker room is a guy in his birthday suit cleaning himself with the hand dryer, – and it took a lot of maneuvring to get himself clean this way, lol

  9. J says:

    OMG hilarious! Your gym is a little bit crazier than mine, but there are some weirdos. There is one lady who just talks and talks and talks! And usually she is there doing her hair when I walk in from my workout and then out again after I have showered and gotten ready for work.

  10. I used to see the same things at the gym, but not recently. Now I go to my office gym, and people are generally well-behaved there, if not borne out of a rush to hurry back to the desk. Bonus: I left my nice facewash in the shower there on Monday, but they had it for me Tuesday morning! I’m sorry to hear about your swimsuit and goggles though. Definitely gross for sure.

  11. Heidi Nicole says:

    I was so awkward in the locker room when I first started going to the gym before work but with time I figured it all out and started to fit in. I knew the old bitties who did swimming while I ran – we chatted about life while drying off, half naked or pulling on tights/pantyhose/whatever layers we needed to survive the winter weather outside. It worked. I never thought I would be comfortable being completely naked in front of other naked strangers but after a few weeks it was no big deal.

    Although I never got around to sitting naked in the steam room – ick. And it still weirded me out when people spent a good 30-45 minutes doing their hair/face while 100% naked. I understand not wanting to put all your clothes on while you are still wet/hot/sweating from your workout but really, underwear would be completely do-able and totally acceptable!

    And loud Adele in the locker room?! Yeah, I may have accidently wrung out my hair then spilled my water bottle on that phone!

  12. Terri says:

    What a great post!!! You cannot help but shake your head at what some people think is acceptable behavior in public. Amazing but I really do think some days people think they are the only ones on the planet. You are right, pics would have been weird and sorry some sicko took your suit :(

  13. Ryann says:

    Haha, great descriptions! Yeah, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that and work out at home now! When I did have a membership, I remember all the naked women walking around, the women who would spread all their make up on the counter, and of course the ones who don’t even have their underwear on yet bending over not even noticing someone behind them! Sorry to hear about your lost goggles and swimsuit.

  14. Jeff says:

    Your post reminds me a long running topic on Slowtwitch. Check out some of the horror stories posted on these threads:

    http://forum.slowtwitch.com/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=2790352;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25;

    http://forum.slowtwitch.com/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=3118179;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25;

    This one is related to Strange Denizens of the Pool, but captures much of the weirdness you describe (the thread has been running since 2006):

    http://forum.slowtwitch.com/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=1036721;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25;

    If you have not already checked out Slowtwitch, I would recommend taking a look at the front page and perusing the Triathlon Forum. There are frequently some gems of information in there that I have found useful over the years.

  15. These are great rules; I’m glad there are no photos!
    The worst I’ve seen is someone using a callus scrubber thing in the steam room, letting the dead skin go right on the ground. Ugh! Seriously, your suit, cap, and goggles were never turned in?! That’s just weird.

  16. I could not agree more!!!! Things that happen in the locker room are SOOOO weird!!!!

    One prime example from this morning: A woman was sitting down on a bench in the locker room reading a book when I came in post-workout. I didn’t think much of it and proceeded to undress (using a towel!) and get in the shower. When I got out of the shower, she’s still reading. Hmmm… now, I’m a fast shower-r, so maybe this isn’t weird. THEN, I get completely ready (dry and straighten hair, make up, get dressed) all the while, she’s just chilling, reading. So, this lady spent a good minimum 45-minutes total reading. In the locker room. WEIRD. Newsflash, the locker room does not equal a library.

  17. Corey says:

    Um, seriously who does that stuff?! I have been pretty lucky and not experienced anything even close to any of that! Although when I left my make-up bad in the locker room last year, and went back to get it, no one turned it in. WHO WOULD WEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MAKE-UP????

  18. Melissa says:

    My thinking is more along the lines of Heidi Nicole’s.

    I was on both the girls swim team and volleyball team in high school, and after 4 years of group showering in the locker room after meets, games and practices, I’m completely immune to locker room nudity, be it mine or that of other females.

    I guess this will sound strange to some of you, but in a way I prefer the more “naked” locker rooms. I’m straight, so don’t think that I mean this in a sexual way, I definitely don’t! But I prefer the more casual locker rooms where women are comfortable enough with one-another to be able to carry on a conversation, even while nude.

    The locker room at my gym has open group showers like in high school. So a lot of women strike up conversations while showering. I was so proud of my 15 year old niece recently. I took her to the gym with me recently as my guest, and I was afraid that she might be nervous about showering after our workout. But she was very mature about it, and even joined in on a conversation that I was having with a couple of other women in the showers. I was glad to see that my niece was comfortable in her own skin, and was not embarrassed by showering in the nude in front of others!

  19. Andy says:

    Locker rooms are SCARY places. I have often wondered if there is as much nakedness in the women’s locker room as the men’s – apparently there is.
    My friends and I have a theory that the older the person, the more naked they like to be.
    While we don’t have to put up with the “naked makeup” sessions, it is not uncommon for men to like to “air dry” but with the assistance of the hand dryer. Nothing like a man spinning round and round in front of the blowing dryer to make you want to vomit.

    Great post!

  20. Nicole says:

    This is very weird because just this morning I was going on and on to Mike after our Masters Swim about the locker room – we have to walk through the locker rooms to get to/from the pool. Naked women outnumber clothed ones and they enjoy showering together and also doing things like drying their bathing suits naked. It makes me uncomfortable!!!

  21. Nicole says:

    Oh and PS I saw a sign at the gym that says “Please do not use hair coloring products in the women’s locker room.” Obviously they didn’t post that without having caught someone repeatedly dying their hair in there.

  22. Melissa says:

    I hope that it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to pick on anyone! And I respect everyone’s right to feel the way that they do. But can any of you please tell me what it is that makes you feel uncomfortable about seeing other women nude in a locker room?

    I certainly never stare at anyone in the locker room, and I definitely respect other peoples privacy. But you have to expect to see nude women in a locker room, and I feel that those of us that are comfortable enough to not be embarrassed by other women catching a glimpse of us in the nude have just as much right to be openly nude in the locker room as those who are embarrassed to be momentarily nude.

    No one is forcing you to look at anyone else.

    We all have the same parts, I don’t have anything that you don’t have, and vice-versa.

    The feminist in me gets annoyed how some women complain about other women being nude in a WOMEN’S LOCKER ROOM. Call me crazy if you want, but I’d rather see women be comfortable enough with their bodies that their not ashamed of other women seeing them in the nude, in a locker room, where it’s to be expected, than to feel that they need to shamefully hide from other women while changing.

    I’m so happy that my teenage niece isn’t learning to be ashamed of her body!

    Anyway, again, I hope I’m not offending anyone. But please explain to me how anyone is being harmed by catching a glimpse of another woman’s nude body in a women’s locker room?

    • PageWilliams says:

      Hi Melissa,

      I can completely see your point and I think it’s important that I call out that I’m not one of those people who changes in the stall or is ashamed of naked bodies. I, like the rest of the locker room goers, get undressed in the open and am not trying to hide every bit as I go. Nor are we saying that “seeing” someone naked is a bad thing – that’s not it at all. My point in this post was rather about respecting people’s POVs and personal space.

      We may be comfortable with getting undressed in the locker room, but spending an hour lounging around naked, or invading other people’s personal space while being in the nude, without knowing their POV, or not being sanitary while nude is what is discerning. Go to the locker room, change, do your thing, but be respectful of other people. Just because some are comfortable doesn’t mean everyone is.

      Hope this helps clarify and thanks for commenting :)
      Page

  23. keith says:

    my wife has shared these horrors with me – let me tell you – the old men in the guys locker room .. the stories i could tell you would cause you to cancel your membership Page!

  24. Melissa says:

    Page.

    Thank you for your kind response!

    Like I mentioned in another post, I guess that because of all of the group showering that I did in high school on sports teams and in gym class, I got completely used to seeing other females nude and being seen nude myself, and with the exception of the very first group shower that I took, it was never an awkward situation for me. Plus, since my gym that I go to now has the open group showers, it seems a little silly to me to worry about covering up since everyone can see everyone else as they shower.

    I do put on either a towel or my bra and panties before I do my hair and makeup, whereas many of the women at my gym just do those things completely nude.

    I’m grateful that my high school did allow us to shower at the end of gym classes and sporting events, as it helped me get over shyness. My poor niece says that her high school doesn’t give them enough time to shower in gym class. Also, I would have despised having to go through the rest of the school day feeling sweaty and gross!

    Thanks again for your kind response. And I hope that I didn’t come off as a B**ch.

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