Tuesday, January 09, 2007

the naked gym

This past weekend I went to the gym downtown again. It's really good to have somewhere that's a bit more accessible than my work gym and has a pool. I actually think my knee is getting a bit better now that I have time to run slowly, not push things. Also my upper body is definitely feeling it now that I've really got time for the weight machines. But no matter how much I'm enjoying the new gym there's something just a bit odd about it. I call it the naked gym syndrome. For those guy readers out there you'll probably understand what I mean right away but for the ladies it might not be quite so clear.

To start with you have to understand that for guys there is a fairly strict ingrained set of social rules governing behavior in bathrooms, locker rooms, and really most anyplace you might end up named in front of other guys. For example if you enter a restroom with your friend and you both need to pee, you can take urinal A, and your friend can take urinal C, urinal B should be left vacant. You shouldn't be looking around, straight ahead or down are the prefered looks. You don't talk to each other, unless it's about girls or sports and you we're already in the middle of the conversation, but all conversation must be joking and only between friends. You don't talk to strangers. And if its a friend you never talk to someone who goes into a stall. God forbid you're at a bar with a trough urinal, subtleties come into play then. And in a locker room there are similar rules. Not qute as stringent, but they are there nonetheless.

Oh don't get me wrong I know that some people are more comfortable being naked than others, I in fact am more comfortable than many. But there are some things EVERY guy knows you just don't do in public. Even gay guys know these things. It's a weird social etiquette, that I don't think anyone ever teaches you, but you just do it; no questions asked. Some things that I have seen in my new gym's locker that strike me as odd include a naked man walking to a full length mirror and flexing different muscles to see how he looked, a man shaving (his face) fully naked, a man showering with the little plastic curtain thing totally open, and a man wearing only cowboy boots, stop changing and turn to face his friend then begin talking about the stock market. His friend was changing, but the cowboy boots guy just stood there talking about annuities and whatnot. Weird eh?

Now I honestly don't think of myself as a prude. Nothing wrong with being naked, and I don't have any issues with changing in a locker room, but those things I just described... that's not normal. This isn't a "gay" gym, those are in The Castro. This is just a regular downtown gym, and somehow it's totally off track with the noraml social guidelines. I wonder how that might have happened. Could it be that some of the more open people who go there started strutting their stuff and everyone else just followed suit? Could it be the particular age range or mixed specifically ethnic demographic? Nothing else seems particularly out of place, just all the nakedness.

It's not that I mind really. I mean, its not a huge deal or anything, I just couldn't help but notice it. I dopn't think anyone could help but notice it. And I'm left just a little confused as to what exactly is going on over at the naked gym...


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


By far the best video I've come across graphically showing "Male Restroom Etiquette.

Chappy said...

Totally man. That's really funny. I saw a similar video at the Spike and Mike festival last year. It's true though. These are serious rules that make up the very fabric of our society, and cannot be flaunted.

Ross said...

It's the same here at the YMCA. Naked guys talking about whatever, just hanging out...naked. Creeped me out too but I learned to not look and keep my headphones on whenever possible.

I recently switched to the gym at work, way better, never anyone in there. When there are people in the locker room you know them from a work environment so they don't want to be naked in front of you either.