I take it all back. All that stuff about welcoming new people to the gym… not anymore! One of you went and screwed it all up for everyone. I’m now suspicious of you all.
Why the change of heart? Oh, let me tell you about a simple, but egregious, breach of locker room etiquette, that changed everything….
So there I was, headed into my local 24hr Fitness a couple weeks ago (probably less than a week since that last post). I had a doozy of a run on my schedule, just over an hour but, the kind with hill efforts and specific paces. The one where you know you’re going to need at least one water bottle and probably two towels. It was cold and dark after work, but it really didn’t matter. I fully expected the place to be packed, but I was headed to the treadmill anyway.
The locker room was busy, but I lucked out and found an empty one on the end of a row. As I’m changing, I’m using the bench for several things, because, well, the floor is just to risky. I don’t even like putting my feet on it at times. I don’t consider myself a germ-a-phobe either. I’ll do what I can to stay healthy and maintain a strong immune system so I don’t have to avoid those environments. But some risks are just unnecessary, right?
Anyway, as I’m changing some older guy comes out of the steam room and gets into his locker two doors down. I didn’t really think about out it because were the only two on our row so their ought to be plenty of room. The next thing I remember is hearing my water bottle hit the floor. I look up immediately to see this guy’s mushy white butt right where my bottle used to be! Now, I wasn’t staring at my water bottle, nor at his ass, but from the orientation of things it was clear that he bent over to get something off the bottom of his locker and there was no way anything other than his buttocks could have contacted my water bottle (the top 1/4 to 1/3, no less) causing it to roll across previously discussed floor.
I can’t imagine that he didn’t realize what had happened. But he certainly chose to ignore that it happened. As I stood there partially terrified and completely flummoxed, he grabbed his towel and proceeded to try two wrong doors before finding the showers. Clearly, it was his first day.
I was so astonished at the event, that it took me longer than it should have to realize that they sell bottled water at the front desk. After that, I began to realize the humor in the situation. A $3 bottle of Dasani never tasted so good!
To the best of my knowledge, most gyms don’t teach etiquette, self awareness, or just plain common sense in their orientation sessions. But they should. Perhaps even test for it. Particularly if new members are over a certain age, or able to bench press more than 1.75 times their body weight. In my experience, most awkward sights, sounds, smells, and attire arise from these two demographics. Profiling, yes! It wouldn’t surprise me if the entire concept of profiling was conceived at a health club.
My good friend Scotty and I used to joke all the time about the old guys (and really strong guys) at our gym in St. Louis. Usually, after a while, the jokes always ended with, “I can’t wait until I’m that age and just don’t give a crap anymore.” (Clearly, neither of us was going to be strong enough to not give a crap…) I still hope to achieve this someday, but even then I think I’ll keep my ass away from water bottles.