I bought my first gym membership a couple of years ago, back when Mike and I had been dating for a few months. My life at the gym has generally been a positive one, even on the days when I don’t want to get on the ellipitical machine and I’m looking for any excuse to shelve the workout for another day: There isn’t anywhere to park! There aren’t any machines open! I don’t like to get my hair sweaty!

The one aspect of gym culture I have never been able to fully immerse myself in is the women’s locker room. Some backstory: my high school never had formal physical education. It was a small private school (very small–I graduated with a senior class of seven) that focused its energies on academics, especially on the Korean kids who had perfect SAT scores (and had carte blanche to sleep in class). My school did offer a modified P.E. course which was just walking to the gym down the street and the boys would weighlift and the girls would watch Tae Bo. I don’t mean work out to Tae Bo. We would just watch the tape playing in the corner TV and eat snacks until someone alerted the group that our teacher was coming and we’d get all upper-cut double time.

Even if there were showers large enough, we wouldn’t have undressed in front of each other, or showered in those long rows. This might have been a specific cultural nuance. I grew up on a predominantly Catholic island with a devout Catholic mother who would force half-slips on me with the warning that if I did not wear these fancy lacy static-clingy skirts-under-skirts people would laugh at me. Now, if you are also of Saipan stock, feel free to counter this with, “Mona, that might have just been your mother,” because I’m sure that I am the only one with a mother who told me not to sing during mass because I was off-key.

When I first went to the gym, specifically, the women’s locker room, I became immediately aware that I was not on Saipan anymore, Toto. Women weren’t cowering in the corner. Here is my locker room operandi: I get in and get out. I don’t lollygag. I don’t study my orange peel pores. And I certainly don’t PERFORM LUNGES WHILE NAKED. Or curl my hair, NAKED. Or poke my head out of the shower curtains and ask women like me to fetch them some hand towels because I got into the shower and realized there was no way to DRY MY NAKED BODY.

Granted, this body issue is all my own. I hate walking to my locker while women are tetrised all over the wooden bench. It is during this time that I say little prayers to the universe like, “Please don’t let this towel fall,” or “Please don’t let anyone judge me for my underwear with the stars on it.” It’s just that not everyone needs to know that my untoweled-body looks like it belongs on Discovery Health’s Mystery Diagnosis. But I guess you do now! And so does the rest of the internet!

And here’s a tip if you’re interested in joining a gym, wait until the end of the month and ask to speak to the newest salesperson there. You’ll get a better deal because these folks are trying to fill a quota and need all the sales they can get. Well, aren’t you glad you got something out of this long rambling?

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  1. Matt MacQue says:

    OMG… If they’re in there, bustin’ out butt-nekkid lunges… LOL… stars on your underwear should be the last thing you worry about. Just make sure you keep your days straight an wear your Monday panties on Monday… (etc…etc) and you should be fine.

    Lunges… classic

  2. Ugh. I hate gym locker rooms!! I wear my gym clothes to the gym and I wait til I get home to shower. I don’t like lingering around with naked women. And why are they all so big bushed? In the words of Samantha Jones “I could be on death row and wouldn’t have that situation.”

  3. Happy New Year! I think it is a catholic school thing also. I always wondered why our locker rooms didn’t look like the locker room in Sixteen Candles. We would never walk around naked. We would change in to our PE clothes by slipper our shirt over our uniform shirt then magically removing our shirts from underneath. Most women in my gym locker room are comfortable walking around and going about their business in the locker room naked. Even going into the sauna or whirlpool. I just keep my head down and mind my own business.

  4. One thing I keep meaning to do is bring a little robe and flip flops for the gym. Not like a giant Hugh Hefner fluffy robe or anything, but a little thin one just to throw on so I’m not flouncing about for all to see.

    Are you doing the water aerobics still? I haven’t been to my yoga class in weeks, I have got to get back on it!

  5. Also join a gym that is as close to your work/school/or home as possible. If you have to go out of your way to get to it, you’ll find excuses.

  6. Uh oh Mona, I’m the girl you hate!! Although I’ve never done naked lunges (ew) . I used to be totally anti-nude, but then something about playing for an all women’s team for six years….eventually I was strutting around the IMA totally bare. I would stand under a hand dryer and dry my hair, totally naked. For an hour! It was great. But once I did see something that totally blew my mind: a naked women, in the steam room, doing these exercises where she would lift up her legs and spread them….WOW what a view she gave us! I lasted aout 20 seconds in there and then bolted.

  7. That’s why I go, I sweat, and I race home to shower there. I NEVER see the inside of the locker room, it scares me to death!

    ps – I haven’t seen the actual inside of the gym since November, but that’s neither here nor there.

  8. me thinks squats while naked could possibly be worse. yuck and men who do that should be shot.

  9. Oh yeah, I second that it’s a Catholic school thing. And our mothers must have had the same How To Dress Your Catholic Daughters manual.

  10. Joined the army and learned early on that, in the military at least, people don’t care.

    Now that I’ve had a baby and was given the wonderful gift of stretchmarks via my momma’s genes, as well as am pregnant with another, I think I would care if I’d have to drop trou’ with onlookers (who don’t care ofcourse) lurking (DAMN THE FEMALE PSYCHE AND IT’S PENCHANT FOR MAKING VANITY NUMERO UNO!!!)
    Nice site by the way. Looking at it via my sidekick (which I’m sure does it no justice), but enjoyed it all the same.

  11. I am a get dressed in the shower stall kind of gal myself. But, yay for undies with starts on them!

  12. call me a hippie (you wouldn’t be the first) but i don’t feel uncomfortable at all around a bunch of naked people. it’s not because i lack insecurity… i’m slightly overweight, have cellulite/jiggly thighs, etc… though not the aforementioned 70s bush situation =P

    it’s more that i know that the other women in the locker room are most likely feeling the same things i am. no matter how hard you try to fight the media, etc… most women i know are unhappy with some part of their naked body. they might seem to be cavorting about but it’s unlikely that if a genie appeared and asked them what they’d change about their appearance they’d say “nothing”.

    so i assume by default that most of the naked people are thinking about themselves (whether positive or negative) more than they’re thinking about me.

    also, i am currently wearing purple underwear with multicolored stars so that description made me giggle =P

  13. um. dressing rooms kind of freak me out in that sense. i think it’s the nakedness of the *older* women around me – who seem much more at peace with undressing. it’s that and the smell. that sweaty warm pool smell. ick.

  14. Wow, you gals sure went to different catholic schools than I did, for sure. My all-girls catholic school had p.e., and with no exceptions we had to shower after each p.e. class. The showers were those group showers and the nun who taught our p.e. classes stood there and made sure that you showered. If you didn’t spend at least 5 minutes in the shower she would send you right back in for 5 more minutes.

    As a result I now do not have any embarrassment about being nude in the women’s locker room at the gym. And that’s a good thing because my gyms locker room only has one shower with a stall, all of the rest are group showers like in school. So I don’t feel the need to wait in line to use the private shower, I just shower in the group showers and then head home.

    And Mona, your a beautiful young lady, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. I think most women would probably happily walk around in the nude if we all looked as hot as you. Don’t worry, I’m straight, and I’m not hitting on you. LOL. But seriously, I don’t think I’d ever want to wear clothes if I was as hot as you.

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