Ahh, gym locker rooms. If there was ever a time to display impeccable etiquette, it’s in a place where you’re naked around complete strangers.

Changing, grooming and showering in the gym locker room can trigger stress and anxiety that, for many people, has origins going far back as middle school. It’s the public place where you’re at the most vulnerable.

We have all been in a locker room with someone who DOESN’T use proper locker room etiquette and treats the place like it’s their own personal bathroom and lounge. It’s not pleasant.

If you’re reading this article, chances are you never want to be that guy or gal. Because you care about manners, etiquette, and the feelings of the people around you.

As useful as one may be, we doubt we could get many people to register for a locker-room etiquette class.

Fortunately, we can offer some tips here that can help make your moments in the locker room more polite, considerate, and stress-free.

Get on with things

You may take long, luxurious showers at home. You may like to relax and take your time doing, other things in your own bathroom. But when you’re at the gym, you’re sharing space and facilities with other people. The locker room isn’t a place to take a 20-minute shower or settle onto a bench and scroll for your phone like it’s the sofa in your den. It’s a place to get clean, get changed, and get out. So, by no means do you need to rush through your grooming and dressing routine, but keep it short and to the point. And allow the other users their fair share of time and privacy.

Keep conversation to a minimum

When you’re in the locker room, you may run into people you know, or have gotten into an interesting conversation with somebody out by the weights that you might want to continue. Consider continuing those conversations in depth over coffee or drinks after you get changed. It’s okay to be friendly with people in the locker room, but any conversation beyond the simple, quick exchange of pleasantries is probably too much. People feel vulnerable in the locker room and want to get their clothes back on and onto the next part of their days as quickly as possible. You can help them do that by not pulling them into an in-depth conversation. And if someone tries to draw you into one, you’re within your bounds to politely tell them you’re happy to talk once you’re both dressed and out of the locker room. And if you happen to spot someone you know, like a workmate, neighbor, teacher, etc., wait until they have their clothes on to say hello.

Two girlfriends chatting in the locker room.

Eyes up!

It’s just a fact of life that no matter how discreet we are in the locker room, eventually we’re going to see each other in various states of undress. The best way to handle it is to always others in the eye and not to let your gaze sweep up and down others’ bodies.

Give your phone a rest

Like buses, trains, elevators, and other shared spaces, the locker room isn’t your personal meeting or conference room. So, spare your fellow gym-goers the noise and unwanted look into your personal or work life. Wait until you’re finished in the locker room to make calls. And if someone calls you, ask if you can call back, and do so once you’re in a more appropriate spot. And another thing: remember to set your phone to silent or vibrate when you leave it in your locker. Nobody wants to hear your ringtone while they’re getting changed!

Wear flip flops

Flip flops protect your feet from whatever dirt or other nastiness might be on the locker room or shower floor. And it shows others that you’re doing your part to keep the locker room clean and hygienic.

Dry off in the shower area

Get yourself as dry as possible in the shower or shower area before you go back to your locker. This will help prevent dangerous puddles forming on the locker room floor. And it will keep you from dripping all over other people and their stuff. And, most politely of all, it will keep you from bumping into people and taking up a lot of space in the locker room area trying to get yourself dry. And while we’re talking about drying off, for the benefit of those around you, limit the use of the courtesy hair dryers to dry the hair on your head … and the hair on your head only!

Cover up

You may be getting a great physique from all that working out, but the locker room isn’t the place to show it off. You don’t have to wrap up in multiple towels or avoid nudity at all. But keep a towel wrapped around yourself as you move from the showers to your locker. And at least put on your underwear on before walking around to dry your hair, shave, etc. After all, you may be completely comfortable with your body, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is.

Take it easy with spray products

Once again, in the locker room, you’re in close quarters with a lot of other people in a limited amount of space. If you use fragrances, spray deodorants or hairsprays, keep the bursts short and close to your body. Some people may be allergic or have sensitive noses and will appreciate it if you don’t fumigate the locker room.

Keep your grooming basic

In the interest of keeping things moving in the locker room, keep your grooming limited to the basic, getting-ready routine. Things like clipping your nails, shaving/trimming body hair, and dyeing your hair are better done at home.

Don’t be the “Locker Room Cop”

It’s irritating when other people don’t follow the gym’s rules, especially in the locker rooms. But it’s not your job to enforce them. If you step in and try to tell someone what to do, even if you’re right, you’re just increasing the chances of an unpleasant confrontation—in an already awkward setting. Let club management know about what’s going on and let them be the “bad guys.”

Use a lock

The most important reason to bring and use a lock is, of course, to protect your belongings from theft while you work out. But it also helps for other reasons. It’s really frustrating to open a locker to find somebody else’s things already in there. And it puts you in an awkward situation if you open a locker full of someone else’s things.

Help keep things clean

It should go without saying, but it’s always good to be reminded … use basic courtesy and leave the locker room in the shape you found it. Throw towels in the towel bin, not the floor. If you’ve left puddles on the floor in the locker room area, use your towel to wipe them up before getting rid of it. And at the sinks, use a towel or a paper towel to clean up any makeup you spill, or shaving cream you splatter. And of course, if an area of the locker room is particularly dirty or disordered, let the gym staff know.

If you follow these etiquette tips in the gym locker room, you’re sure to be just fine in this most awkward and vulnerable of places.

If you’d like to learn how to have impeccable etiquette at work, at weddings, or at parties, dinner gatherings and other special occasions, be sure to explore our etiquette classes and sign up for one today!