I Go To A Naked Gym

A few months ago my ultra ghetto (albeit super affordable and convenient) gym shut its doors due to bankruptcy. Looking back, this shouldn’t have come as so much of a shock given that the place couldn’t even afford toilet paper. Not that I could bring myself to use the bathroom. Ick.

Anyhoodle, I joined the next closest gym to my house which is way nicer and has toilet paper (and water fountains – huzzah!) and good classes and a pool and stuff. Oh, and men. My previous gym was for women only. I’m still adjusting to the increased testosterone.

Upon entering the change room on my first foray to my new gym, one thing became immediately apparent: this was a naked gym. By that, I mean that a number of the women walking around in the changeroom were  naked. Some coming from the showers or the steam room, some just casually strolling about or drying their hair. Some sitting on a bench checking their phone. Everywhere I looked there were naked women. This was..startling. A quick (and hopefully not obvious) mental tally revealed that most of these naked women were in their 40s and 50s. I didn’t spot one women who appeared to be below the age of 35 or so in the buff. I have to wonder if this is a generational thing?

I’m 30. When I was in elementary and high school, getting changed for gym class was a workout in itself to avoid anyone seeing anyone else naked. Many girls lined up to change in the few bathroom stalls. I wasn’t that extreme, but I certainly used some contortionist moves to never be topless in front of my classmates. I’ve asked some close friends who are in my age range (25-35) about this and they agree: no one got fully naked in the changerooms and certainly didn’t walk around in the nude.

I either get changed at work before heading to the gym, or use the locker door/my backpack/pants as  a makeshift nudity shield when I’m getting changed at the gym. This is not because I’m embarrassed about my body, but rather because I’m just not ever going to be the girl who completely strips down in public unless it’s pitch dark and there’s a lake involved. The most naked you’ll ever see me at the gym is in a bra and underwear. And even then you’d have to really be trying to see me naked because I change like I’m being timed for some weird contest with a cash prize.

Last summer my friend R and I went to a water spa. Of the 30 or so women doing the water circuit with us that day, about 3 were naked. It was a little weird to get used to. Awkward even. Again, the naked women were all well into their 40s. We mused that they must have grown up in a naked house while we certainly did not. When a naked women entered the same water area as us, those of us who were bathing suit clad immediately exchanged meaningful glances with our covered counterparts. The message was clear: what’s up with the naked chick?

Recently I was in the changeroom at my gym preparing to leave when a completely naked women in her 50s approached me and asked if I could help her. She had gone swimming with a rubber elastic in her hair and now it was badly tangled and she wanted to remove it before showering.

True story.

So, trying my darndest to ignore the fact that a nude stranger was asking me to touch her hair, I gamely spent the next 2 minutes trying to remove a badly snarled elastic from her hair. I was successful and she thanked me and walked off to the showers like this was all totally normal.

I immediately texted some friends, a few of whom I’ve recently engaged in conversation about the nakedness at my gym. Given that most of us have been friends for over 5 years and have never seen eachother naked, their reactions were mostly along the lines of ‘that’s awkward’ or ‘seriously what is up with women walking around naked at the gym???’ or ‘if you were on a reality show I would totally watch it – of course that happened to you.’

Maybe I (and many of my friends) are just prudes? Perhaps our attitude towards casual nudity really is specific to our age group? My understanding is that in many cultures or countries (specifically those where taking group saunas is the norm – I’m looking at you, Finland) nudity is completely common in these situations. Maybe one day I’ll get to the point where I don’t even notice it anymore. I certainly won’t ever be the most naked woman in the changeroom, but I will make more of an effort to not visibly react to it anymore.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the grocery store where I plan to go topless in the freezer section.* After all, gravity won’t always be as kind as it is now.

*Nope.

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12 thoughts on “I Go To A Naked Gym

  1. Ha! When I was in college, it seems all the guys my age were like you. (18-23) Me included, by the way. I noticed older men in their 50s were fine with walking around in a locker room completely naked. While all the young college students men were changing their shorts as if it was contest to see who could do it faster! I just took it as a age and maturity thing. As we get older we become more comfortable or don’t care what others think anymore, so I theorized.

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    • Ah so it’s not just the ladies! Good to know. I’m guessing it has a lot to do with getting older and caring less. But I could still do without people sprawling nude on the benches next to me while I’m, say, lacing up my sneakers 😉

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      • I find the same behavior at beaches all over Florida. South Beach is a topless beach; older ladies were only one topless beside the men.(yeah, the latter is a given but whatever) It also older men who wearing real tiny bathing suits.. While the middle age and young crowd covers up more than older crowd.. You would think it should be other way around showing off young-hot bodies rather than the old and not-so-hot bodies… interesting world we live in, huh?

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      • Ugh don’t even get me started on women going topless or men wearing tiny bathing suits. It’s rarely the people you’d want to see that much of!

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  2. Attitudes like that are the reason the people of this country have such horrible self-esteem issues. And, we know that this can easily lead to depression, eating disorders, bullying, poor school performance, etc. I know this personally though, because I was one of those kids raised to think the body was dirty and should be hidden away. I became paranoid, thinking something was wrong with me and that people were staring, and I dreaded any sort of physical relationship.

    By college, I’d had enough. I got up the nerve to go to a nude beach – ripping off the bandage so to speak. It helped tremendously. I’m 32 now and I’m that guy who is naked in the gym and wearing the tiny bathing suit at the beach (if anything at all).

    Over the years, I’ve learned something. I don’t care, because I’m not the one with the problem. Fine, you’re insecure, I get it. Then keep your clothes on and keep your comments to yourself. After all, you’re the one who’s wrapping herself up to hide away from the people who could care less. Think about it.

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  3. Drew says:

    In high school, I was on the football team and in order to shower I had to be in the same room with up to 7 other guys and a line on naked guys out side, we had no towel hooks and no stalls, it was no big deal. You were looked at as weird if you tried to shower with your underwear on. Then I joined the Army and during Basic we had no time to care about being embarrassed. 200 males had 16 showers and 25 minutes to shower and get dressed. I guess what I’m saying is that nudity is no big deal unless we make it one.

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  4. Tchad Roote says:

    you didn’t mention if the rest of the gym was nude (weight lifting, swimming,steam/sauna). I saw a ad for nudist health spa, but when my wife and I went to see about a membership, we were told only a test to see how the public would react, did good so soon we may be enjoying nude activities together.

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  5. PF says:

    (1) It would do wonders for male muscle development (natural athletes) if fit, attractive women decided to stroll out of their nude locker room and onto the coed gym floor.

    (2) Keep in mind that once adapted to nudity in the locker room (or other context) it’s not a big deal. Don’t forget that there are many benefits of that kind of exposure, such as others’ heightened expectations of your aesthetics/body-form and composure… all of which should help to motivate self-improvement. Likewise, if you decide to go nude around others who tend to shy away transcending deficiency, then that kind of nudity could actually have the opposite effect, causing some to revel in the precedent of compromise that surrounds them.

    (3) I totally deny your attempt to gain the type of constituency that your attempting to form on this issue… before you smash a work of art perhaps you should at least attempt to admire it.

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  6. Rachel says:

    In high school I was on both the girls swim team and volleyball team. With the volleyball team, if we had a practice before the school day started, we would shower afterward, there were no stalls. And in the case of the swim team, I guess that we were so used to changing in and out of our swimsuits in front of each other that we would just shower in the nude after practices and meets. We were all comfortable being in the buff around each other. The only times that it was at all awkward was when some of the girls moms, sisters, grandmas, or friends would come into the locker room after a swim meet.

    As far as gym class was concerned for my high school. No one was made to shower after gym class, but you could if you wanted to. Those of us that were on sports teams usually did shower after gym class, but only a few of the non-athletes had the guts to strip down to shower. I graduated high school in 2009.

    As for your age observation, I think that one of the obvious reasons that so many women that are 40 and over are totally at ease while nude in the locker room is that most of them were required to shower in gym class.
    My mom graduated high school in 1983, and she has told me in the past that everyone was required to shower in gym class, and that if a girl tried to avoid showering after gym class that the other girls would think that the girl was weird.

    At the gym that I go to now I would say that maybe roughly 25% of the women under 40 years of age seem to be comfortable in the buff in the locker room. It seems to be more like 80% of the women over age 40 that seem to be comfortable in the buff.

    Recently I saw a girl at the gym that was showering in the nude in the open showers, (There is only one shower that has a stall) the girl looked to be around 14 or 15 years old. I was surprised to see a teen girl these days who was willing to go nude around others. The next time that I saw her at the gym she was in the pool and was wearing a high school swim team swimsuit. I then understood her comfort level with locker room nudity.

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    • So interesting! I had never considered the high school showering aspect and how it would lend itself to a different comfort level. I vaguely recall maybe one or two shower stalls in my high school locker room (graduated in 2000) but for the most part girls would either not shower after or would schedule gym to be at the end of the school day.

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  7. Rachel says:

    At my high school you had no say in what part of the school day you had gym class in. It was usually pretty early in the day.

    After I made my first post it occurred to me that maybe showers weren’t required in Canadian schools like they used to be in the USA, which is where I live? Although, like I mentioned, by the time I was in high school showers weren’t really mandatory anymore like they were in the 1980’s when my mom was in school.

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