I’m in my 40s now, which means I have to start paying attention to things that I could let slide years ago. Weight is one of them, but there’s cholesterol levels and triglycerides and blood pressure and blood sugar… lots of stuff. Seeing as how I’m largely sedentary — I’m parked in front of a computer screen eight or more hours a day, after all — all of my various health alarms are going off at once. Some of these things can be addressed with medication (love them pills!), but for others the only real solution is eating less and exercising more.
So I joined a gym. Planet Fitness, if you’re curious. It’s hard to beat $10/month, considering that the last time I had a gym membership it was with Gold’s and cost me three times as much, locked in with a draconian contract that brooked no early release. My wife was already going there, so I knew if I left early enough in the morning I would at least have someone to talk to while I was sweating.
I don’t care for gyms. There’s the fact that in gyms exercise happens, and I’m not exactly a champion of contemporary fitness, but I also don’t like gyms because there’s a 99.9% chance that I’ll see a naked man in the locker room every time I come in to change.
Changing clothes is something you have to do when you work out. There’s no way around it, unless you want to leave the gym wearing the same outfit you just spent 30 minutes perspiring into. The question is how you’re going to address the changing situation and, let us not forget, the showering situation. Both of these things require that you be naked for some length of time and naked in a public place, no less, surrounded by strangers.
I deal with the nakedness issue by remaining covered up as long as I possibly can. Obviously I’m naked in the shower, but there’s a curtain and no one has to see me lathering up. I wear a towel from the locker room to the shower stall and back again. I keep the towel on until I have covered up my lower half so no one has to see my butt or my dangly bits. In other words, I operate with great regard for modesty. I don’t want to see someone else’s naked body and so I’m not going to force them to see mine. It seems like common courtesy.
Inevitably, though, there’s someone for whom the word “modesty” is anathema. I ran into such a person today.
Luckily, since I go in so early, there’s low traffic on the gym floor and, accordingly, in the locker room. I can usually get by without seeing anyone at all. But today I come back from my shower — covered by a towel, let us not forget — and sitting on the bench in front of my locker is a totally naked man.
The whole time I was dressing, the naked man just sat there fiddling with his gym bag, not caring one whit that there was a guy standing next to him that wanted to crawl in a hole and die just to get away. By the time I was finishing putting my clothes on (without showing off any part of my naked body to this man), he was ready for his shower and he strolled off completely naked without so much as a towel for drying off, let alone for covering up.
I honestly don’t get this. From what I understand from my wife, women don’t do this sort of thing in their locker room, so what makes it acceptable to men? I mean, I really, really, really don’t want to see some man’s naked body. I don’t. I could go my whole life without ever seeing a man’s naked body and be perfectly happy with that. And yet I’m forced to because there are some men who seem to like being naked in front of other men.
Is it a half-suppressed homoerotic impulse, this exhibitionism? I don’t know. At its most basic it’s just plain rude, simply because the naked man assumes that his nakedness is perfectly all right to foist on others regardless of their feelings on the subject. I doubt the same guy would strut around outside the locker room with no clothes on, but in the closed environment of the locker room no one else’s opinion seems to matter.
Unfortunately there’s no escape. I have to go to the gym and get exercise or bad things will happen to me. I just wish I could be guaranteed that the men I encounter in the locker room will have a little consideration for others and just cover the hell up.