What is the proper procedure for showering in a gym locker room?
This is going to sound like a stupid question. I apologize. But I've had it on my mind for a while and it needed to be asked.
My question is: how do you use the shower at the locker room at the gym?
I told you it was stupid.
But really, I've had gym memberships for a total of about 5 years during my life (not consecutive). I've gone frequently and worked out, but I've never used the showers there. Why not? Honestly, I've just been too nervous about it. It's not so much public nudity itself that makes me nervous. It does make me feel weird and a little self conscious to take my clothes off in a room with other people in it, but I don't think other people really care that much. What does worry me though is the possibility of committing some kind of social faux pas or perhaps even exposing myself to some kind of safety hazard.
Some of the things that have run through my mind as I contemplate taking a shower at the gym:
- Where do I keep my clothes?
- If in a locker, should I wear a towel between the shower and the locker?
- Where do I keep the towel while I'm in the shower? Not every place I've been to has somewhere to hang it.
- If there are no private showers, is it normal to shower in a bathing suit or similar attire? My current gym has private shower stalls with curtains, but I've been to gyms where the showers were more community style.
- Where do I keep my cell phone/wallet/keys? I can't really bring them with me into the shower, so I suppose I'd have to keep them in the locker. But is that safe? If someone broke into my locker while I was in the shower, I'd lose everything valuable and I'd have no clothes.
- If I use a shower that strangers have used, are there any possible health repercussions? Do I need to wear sandals to protect against athlete's foot, for example?
- Is it normal/OK to perform other grooming functions, such as shaving, or brushing your teeth, in a gym locker room?
So again, in summary, what is the safest and most socially acceptable way to use a locker room at the gym?
It does surprise me how anxious I feel about this, considering I'm usually pretty laid back about most things. I have been to the hot springs and even bath houses in Japan, when I was there visiting friends. But I felt less anxious about that because I was accompanying people who knew what they were doing, and I just did my best to imitate them. When I go to the gym locker room by myself I feel completely out-of-sorts. I feel like everybody else in the world has read some secret manual about how to deal with this and nobody ever handed me a copy. Please help!
If there's some cultural ambiguity about social customs, please assume for the purposes of this question that we're talking about the United States.
+1 I have exactly the same problem. As an extremely partial answer to your question, my gym explicitly encourages men to do their grooming right in the locker room.
It is about etiquette and personal hygiene.
Short answer is this: when in doubt, ask management. A longer answer includes some general principles:
- Use your locker to store clothes, and anything you don't want in the shower with you. Lock your locker and take the key with you (if it's not a combination lock).
- Wear a towel around your waist going from the locker to the shower. While no-one is likely checking you out, you don't want to advertise either.
- Hang your towel on the shower stall door or on top of the shower head if there isn't a towel hook.
As far as community style showers go, it really depends on your comfort level. More than likely in a gym most people in the shower area with you don't really want to see you. As long as you aren't looking all around and focusing on getting clean, you won't cause any breach of etiquette.
As far as clothing in the shower goes, what is the purpose of the shower area in your gym? If it is simply to rinse before and after going to the pool, use a bathing suit. If it is to clean off the sweat from intense training, being in the buff is OK.
As far as health risks are concerned, evaluate the cleanliness of the shower area. Gyms that routinely disinfect the shower areas will be about as safe as your home shower would be. However, if you see evidence of less than stellar upkeep, keep some flip flops on. Use soap and warm water. Anything more falls under safety concerns.
Last, but not least, if showering at home suits you best, do it.