What Is Proper Locker Room Etiquette?

Do you wear a towel when you should? Do you know what to do when others don’t?

Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #131

What Is Proper Locker Room Etiquette?

For as long as I can remember, going to the gym has been a constant in my life. Whether it’s free weights or cardio, finishing a workout is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. However, nothing can ruin the feeling of accomplishment than seeing other members breaking every gym etiquette rule as if there was a contest to see how foul they could be in public.

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What Is Proper Locker Room Etiquette?

Now, in my tenure as a professional wrestler, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to visit some of the nastiest locker rooms imaginable.  Some didn’t even qualify as locker rooms... I once changed behind a building and against the wall of the place where we were wrestling that night. Even though I thought seeing King Kong Bundy changing into his underwear right next to me was shocking enough, nothing surprises me more than when I see someone throwing every known rule of hygiene out the window once they enter the gym locker room. 

So, in this article, I’m going to pull back the curtain on the common etiquette crimes that occur behind the scenes of a gym locker room. And although I could go write thirty episodes on this topic, I’m going to give you my top three go-to locker room etiquette rules to follow.

Proper Locker Room Etiquette Tip #1: Cover Up!

Towels were invented for a reason--use one!

Don’t walk around like a National Geographic documentary on cavemen. Even if you have--um, gifts--that would make most doctors gasp and say, “Nurse, get my sketchpad! I have to document this,” the gym is not the place to shake what your momma gave you.

Even though the staff wants you to feel at home, the gym is NOT your home.

Even though the staff wants you to feel at home, this is NOT your home and there is a definite line that gets crossed. Especially when it comes to talking to another person in your birthday suit. Unless the building is on fire, or you are on fire and you don’t have time to put a towel on, I suggest wrapping one around you before trying to kick up a friendly convo with me. Same goes for when you are doing your hair at the sink. Just put your pants on--I beg you! Your hair won’t get messed up if you take three seconds to zip up your pants.

How do you tell someone that is an issue? Kindly hand them a towel as if you are just trying to be helpful. “Hey, here you go. I grabbed two by accident.” Hopefully they will take it. If they find that offensive, don’t worry--someone needed to tell them and that is a kind way to do so. Plus, there’s one less person who will want to talk to you when he is naked.

Proper Locker Room Etiquette Tip #2: Watch Where You Sit

This next one kind of goes hand in hand with #1, but if you are wet—either from the shower or your workout—please dry off before sitting or lying down on a bench in the locker room.  You don’t have to be a germaphobe to understand this one. Even if the Centers for Disease Control have deemed your locker room the cleanest in America, do your part to keep it that way.

Look, it’s bad enough we are all changing within a foot of complete strangers; I don’t want to take another shower because I sat in a puddle of your sweat. It doesn’t take a gymnast to be able to stand up and change. We can all do this ... I know we can.

[[AdMiddle]How do you kindly deal with others not using proper etiquette? Similar to #1, offer a towel. Or, in those dire situations, causally place your gym bag on the bench to block them from sitting right there. That will at least by you a couple feet of open, dry space.

Proper Locker Room Etiquette Tip #3: Wash Your Hands

For the love of God people, wash your hands!

This is a no brainer, yet I am forced to bring it up again and again. You’d be surprised how many times I am in the locker room and see someone not wash their hands after going to the bathroom. Even my two-year-old daughter knows to wash her hands after using the restroom. But apparently this rule has been forgotten by some adults.

Just last week I was washing my hands at the sink in my gym locker room, when in the mirror I could see someone leaving the urinal behind me. He walked right out of the locker room without even giving a thought to washing his hands. Beyond gross!

Even worse, he was wearing weight lifting gloves, which I’m sure have soaked up enough germs to make our friends at the CDC want to confine them to a glass room in their laboratory. What, did you think your gloves were some sort of super germ defender? Guess what--they’re not! Here’s the rule: once you step into a bathroom, you are to wash your hands. Period.

How do you tackle this most disgusting etiquette breach? Try this rather bold approach: once you see the person start to move toward the door, call their attention. “Wow this water feels great! Have you tried this today? Seriously, come on over here; it feels like a waterfall!” Be extra corny and happy. Remember you are doing it for all mankind and are protecting us from the species of Homo sapiens known to infect the masses with urine-drenched hands. Again I say it, gross.

Do you have a locker room war story you would like to share? Post them on my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page so we can all cry with you. As always, if you have another manners question, I’m look forward to hearing from you so drop me a line at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. As well, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips.

Locker Room image from Shutterstock