Returning to the gym locker room can be even more intimidating than returning to the actual gym after spending nine months making excuses (my arm muscle was busted, I swear). For good reason, too: There are a bunch of new faces, with the same idea as you, who don’t yet understand the laws of the land, which inevitably results in messy chaos, including unnecessary levels of nudity, excessive body grooming and lines for the shower that put theme parks to shame.
In an attempt to maintain order in locker rooms round the world, we asked Jonathan Jordan, a group instructor at Equinox Fitness, to set some ground rules. Do us all a favor, and tape this guide to every available surface.
Shorten Your Showers
“If there’s a line… keep your showers between five and seven minutes,” Jordan says. “Any longer than that, you’re going to get dirty looks from the long line of guys waiting around in their towels, especially during the pre-work morning rush.” This doesn’t mean you can’t kick back after a particularly tough workout — just do it elsewhere. “If you need more time to relax and unwind after a killer session, try the steam room,” Jordan suggests. Just be sure to wear a towel while you’re in there.
Wear Flip Flops
“Even the most pristine gyms (like mine) have a lot of foot traffic,” Jordan explains. “You don’t know how hygienic the person using the amenities before you was, and picking up a fungus or stepping on a sharp object sucks. Just be safe, and use shower shoes.” Jordan also recommends cleaning your flip flops with bleach every once in a while, since you never know what’s lurking on the locker room floor. Also, maybe consider fixing up your feet before showing them off around the locker room, especially if you picked up a fungi before reading this article.
Keep Your Distance
Moderate nudity is, well, unavoidable, but Jordan suggests staying at least three feet away from your fellow gym-goers while baring it all. “You may be totally comfortable with your body, but it’s a shared space and your neighbor might not appreciate a front-row view of your goodies,” he says. “It’s not about shaming, it’s about hygiene and giving everyone a safe space to do their thing.” That means not whirling your junk around like an enraged gorilla, please.
Rinse the Sink (And Don’t Shave Your Nuts)
You’re allowed to use the locker room sinks to shave and brush your teeth, but be sure to clean up after yourself. “Just rinse the bowl when you’re done,” Jordan emphasizes. “No one wants to look at your hair trimmings.” But while shaving your face is A-okay, Jordan warns against taking that razor any lower. “That vital task is better done at home,” he says. Seriously, shave your balls in your own private bathroom, not in the communal gym shower (you wouldn’t think we’d need to say this, but unfortunately, it happens and it is gross).
Put Your Phone Down
“Put them away,” Jordan says. “This is a naked place. Plus, you can afford to be away from your Instagram or email for long enough to put your pants on.” Hey, it might even do you some good.
That’s it! Now that you know how to navigate the locker room, check out our advice on dealing with every annoying person at the gym. You know exactly who we’re talking about.