cheap-home-saunaI’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.


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Confession, getting old, Life, perception, questions, Reflective and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sauna

  1. Brad says:

    How bout a big “I love my Wife” tattoo?

  2. Patty says:

    It’s not just you who has issues with that, man. I’m very much of the same thinking…what’s under my clothes is my business but if I shower at the gym, it becomes everyone else’s business too. I had an experience like that many years ago when we still lived on the Island. I was hanging out with this gal who is very okay with the communal showering deal and proceeded to tell me that I was a tight wad and needed to loosen up about not showering at the gym in the communal shower (one shower area, many shower heads). So I took the challenge the nest day when I went to the gym. Wouldn’t ya know it, they had closed down the women’s bathroom for renovations so I had to use the little girl’s change rooms and shower (they only have the communal shower arrangement). All was fine until I get in there and a rather shorter than most and much rounder than most lady strolled into the shower in all her natural glory and started striking up a conversation. If I could have dissolved and flowed down the drain with all the soap bubbles, I would have! Instead, I was like the last bit of the bar of soap that never seems to dissolve. I made it through that experience without too much scarring. Maybe you will too!

  3. brianmpei says:

    That would be the deal breaker for me Patty. Didn’t like the community shower after high school gym and thankfully have individual showers with curtains where I go. “Little Britain” has a hilarious sketch that I can’t even describe but takes this whole thing to an extreme level.

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