7 Creepy Locker Room DON'Ts
Last Updated: Aug 20, 2015
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There are very few places left in modern society where we voluntarily remove all of our clothing in front of perfect strangers without a second thought -- and then go on to sweat, bathe, rinse, dry and preen alongside them, sharing the same intimate facilities as if they were our own family members. Needless to say, your fellow gym members may not share the exact same background, culture, orientation, generation, personal values or hygienic standards as yourself, so let’s get on the same page about what to do and what not to do in the locker room.
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DON’T URINATE IN THE SHOWER
Two decades after that infamous “Seinfeld” episode in which George nearly loses his gym membership after he was caught urinating in the locker room shower, medical experts in 2014 finally debunked the commonly held belief that human urine is sterile. In fact, 33 different types of common bacteria are found in our wee, and it jumps to as many as 77 types if your stream emanates from an overactive bladder. That alone should cause a “pee pause” for the overwhelming 80 percent of the population who admit to urinating while showering (according to a “Today” show poll). Don’t be a George -- hold it in when showering at the gym.
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DON’T AIR DRY
Hollywood constantly portrays men’s locker rooms as a place to nonchalantly waltz about in your birthday suit, cracking jokes or discussing important plot points. In 1996’s “Jerry Maguire,” Cuba Gooding Jr. remains buck naked while in deep conversation with Tom Cruise -- all in the name of “air-drying.” It’s a thing. The Wall Street Journal even ran the article “I Saw Lloyd Blankfein Naked,” which detailed the Goldman Sachs CEO’s locker room habit. Here's why air drying is a no-no: First of all, you’ll drip water on already-slippery locker room floors. Second, you’re lounging in the buff long enough to make everyone uncomfortable. Keep your towel firmly wrapped around you and remember the LOFO rule: Last Off, First On. Undies should be the final article of clothing removed before showering and the first to be put back on. (And make it a fresh pair, please!)
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DON’T TAKE A SELFIE
Gyms serve as a natural habitat for narcissists, but that doesn’t mean the locker room is for staging muscle shows. Locker rooms are for getting changed and cleaned up, and selfies are something done in private. Unfortunately, “healthies” (selfies taken in yoga poses or while exercising) are a trend now, thanks to the likes of Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum. If you must selfie/healthie, do so on the gym floor and not in the locker room. You may think it’s a snapshot of your awesomeness, but others may think it’s a snapshot of their nakedness. In 2004, Congress passed the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act that prohibits the photographing or videotaping of a naked person without his/her permission in a gym, dressing room or anywhere else with a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Violators face fines of up to $100,000 and/or up to a year in prison. Oops. Play it safe and turn off your cell phone in the locker room.
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DON’T LET YOUR GAZE LINGER
Instead of his .305 batting average, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals may only be remembered for his crotch. When a photo of Brett was shown to participants of a Nielsen/Norman Group eye-tracking study in 2005, females looked at his face while males spent longer gazing at his nether region. Two separate U.K. eye-tracking studies had similar findings in 2014: Men like to check out each other’s junk. Research shows this all has less to do with desire and more to do with hierarchy and status within all-male groups. So be conscious that your eyeline stays floating above the waistlines of your fellow gym-goers, and if you’d prefer dudes not to be sizing up your manhood, refer to No. 2: Don’t air-dry in public!
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DON’T HAVE AN IN-DEPTH CONVERSATION
Men’s locker room speeches in the movies are bold, stirring and invigorating, but the reality is that it’s not a cafe -- it’s a place of utility. Unless every person there is a personal friend of yours, it’s best to keep locker room conversations to a bare minimum. If you do see someone you know, for God’s sake wait until they are dressed before approaching them for a quick howdy. It’s totally fine if you and your workout buddy want to continue your conversation, but respect the fact that it’s a confined space and not everyone wants to know the gory details of your OkCupid date.
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DON’T USE THE SAUNA OR STEAM ROOM NAKED
If you thought averting your eyes, ignoring the narcissists, evading buff flexers, disengaging from dialogue and holding in your pee were locker room challenges enough -- welcome to the grand prix of gym etiquette: the steam room/sauna! This is where all your locker room trials and tribulations fuse into one epic faceoff showdown. Steam rooms may pose the bigger health risk, as their wet, warm environments create an ideal petri dish for bacteria and fungi to flourish -- everything from athlete’s foot and jock itch to more serious conditions like herpes simplex and antibiotic-resistant staph like MRSA. In other words, never sit in a steam room with your bare butt on the tiles and/or your bare feet on the floor.
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DON’T BLOW-DRY YOUR BODY PARTS
Certain personal maintenance issues really shouldn’t be performed in the presence of a public audience. (And, yes, locker rooms count as public.) Clipping toenails, squeezing blemishes, removing dental fixtures, spraying cologne all over the place -- all big no-nos. But one practice with an alarming number of firsthand-witness accounts online is this one: Aiming a gym’s communal blow-dryer at damp hair growing well below one’s neckline -- and usually with one foot planted atop a locker room counter. Need we say more?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you seen any of these DON'Ts happen in a locker room? How did you react? Do you have more etiquette fails to add? Tell us about the worst locker room faux pas that you have witnessed!
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