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What Makes for Good Locker Room Etiquette?

two women talking in a Planet Fitness locker room
Ever wonder what you can do to make others more comfortable in the locker room?

by Catherine Santino

If you've ever had a roommate, you know that sharing common spaces with others can be tricky waters to navigate. Who gets the bathroom first thing in the morning? Should I make enough coffee for my roommate's boyfriend (again)? And the classic: Whose dirty dishes are these in the sink!?

With this in mind, you also probably know that by laying out a few simple ground rules (and sticking to them), the majority of the awkwardness and/or tension can easily be eliminated.

The same goes for locker room etiquette. The locker room at the gym is a place meant for refreshing yourself after a workout, but it's a social setting just the same. And in every social setting, there are unspoken (or sometimes, spoken/written) rules of conduct. Your first time in a gym locker room can be a little intimidating, especially if you're new to the fitness scene. You might not know what's acceptable and what's cringe-worthy: Is it weird to engage in small talk? How long is too long to take in the shower?

When you arrive, read the official gym and locker room policies (usually listed on a sign somewhere, or ask the front desk staff for a copy). By also familiarizing yourself with a few simple rules of locker room etiquette that might not be listed, you can eliminate any and all workout-newbie anxiety, get the most out of your gym time, and make sure things don't get awkward.

Get In, Get Out and Nobody Gets Hurt

Let's just get this one out of the way now: The most potentially uncomfortable thing about locker rooms is, undeniably, the nakedness. (Not that being naked is necessarily awkward, but we all have different comfort levels when it comes to being around naked strangers.)

The general rule of thumb is this: Get in, get out and nobody gets hurt. Temporary nakedness is expected when changing in or out of gym clothes. "Just keep in mind that it's a public space and not your personal naked playground," notes Tiffany Yannetta on Racked.

Keep it to a minimum, and avoid conversation when anyone involved is completely naked. It's not off limits, but anything more than a quick "Hi" or "Bye" can easily turn into a severely awkward situation. If you prefer not to change in front of others, many Planet Fitness locations offer private changing areas for your comfort and convenience.

Be Wary of Others' Personal Space

Another important piece of locker room etiquette is being aware of the space you take up. Spreading your personal belongings all over the locker room like you own the place is a big no-no. Instead, keep your items in a locker, bringing only what you need with you to the gym. And don't forget to throw your dirty towels in the designated bin!

If there aren't a lot of showers available in the locker room, it's polite to keep your shower time to a minimum. Wash, rinse, go. Shaving can wait until you're home.

Wait to Spray Outside

Keep your sprays to yourself, too: Your perfumes and body sprays may smell lovely to you but they can irritate the people around you, especially in such a condensed space. Try to wait until you get outside.

When it comes to locker room etiquette, it's pretty simple: Do what you need to do, but do it with others in mind.