I’ve been going to the gym now for a little while, trying to change my diet as well. It’s paid off with some weight loss and best of all I feel better – more energy, stamina, etc. The longer I’m at the gym though the more I’m realizing that there’s a gap between my ideas about gym etiquette and the ideas of some of the people I share the gym with.
This gap isn’t so much in the exercise area as it is in the change room and the sauna.
For a long time I’ve been aware of the “social compact” that exists, unspoken but understood among men, for the men’s washroom. When you’re in there, you don’t socialize, you do what you need to do, wash up and get out. Men don’t go to the washroom to socialize – at least heterosexual men, can’t speak for homosexual men on this. You generally don’t make eye contact, you never look “down” at the urinal – other than for personal aiming – but you pass a spare roll under the stall wall if asked.
What I’m not clear on, and need to get clear on, are the rules for the change room and sauna.
The particular gym I go to tends to have an older set of clients. Older than me. On more than one occasion I’ve walked into the hot sauna to find an old and wrinkled man stretched out in his birthday suit, not moving or making a sound. You should know that without my glasses on I can’t see much and it’s pretty awkward getting close enough to these guys stretched out ‘au natural’ on the bench to see if they’re still breathing. Why check? Who wants to be found by the next guy that comes in to be sitting in the sauna with a dead guy? There needs to be some kind of signal or acknowledgment when someone enters the sauna that indicates, “yes, I’m alive.”
I’m glad I can’t see much without my glasses on in the sauna when Mr. “I’mcomfortablewithmynudity” comes in, drops his towel and starts pacing the floor and stretching out. The downside is that I worry that not seeing may sometimes look like I’m looking at something when I’m not. I worry about that because sometimes I’m conscious of the fact that some of the guys in the change room and sauna are into guys. Like that.
I’m not afraid of being jumped, I don’t even perceive myself as being attractive to these guys. But it leaves me wondering why I shouldn’t be as uncomfortable as a woman would be in her change room if a couple hetero guys walked in and stripped down with her?
Clearly I have issues.
I talk to guys I know in the change room and the sauna but I’m finding the whole experience awkward and completely in the dark about the social compact for this situation. I can’t even take cues from the people at the gym because it seems to be fairly inconsistent up ’til now. I don’t think anyone else is worrying about this stuff. Probably a good topic for my next session with my therapist.