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Showering at the Gym

Mar 13, 2015 | Running | 22 comments


Erm yes, I really am writing a blog post on showering. After Lissy’s blog about nakedness, I thought I would address this slightly taboo-ish subject in a different way.

I recently invited a friend to a spin class with me to use up some credits that were about to expire. Before she said yes, she asked me what the shower situation was like. I confirmed that there were indeed changing rooms and showers, she would be fine. However, that’s not what she meant, and I knew it. I reluctantly told her that the showers were mostly communal with two three-sided cubicles. It definitely put her off and she ended up going showering at her office after spinning.

I don’t have love communal showers, but if they’ve got dividers then I’m less prudish- when I’m on my own. That changes when I’m with friends and I mostly try to avoid eye contact or stand in the corner. Why is it that it’s more embarrassing getting naked infront of our friends than complete strangers?

And why do so many studios and gyms still have communal showers?? 

communal shower

Another problem I’ve found when showering at the gym or studio, is when there aren’t enough showers. There are certain classes where you have to skip the cool down and stretch and perform your own mini stretch in the shower to ensure that you get first dibs in the changing room. Otherwise you end up standing in a line, clutching a towel around your sweaty body, fretting about whether you’re going to be late for work. I’ve had to baby wipe, blow dry and go when the queue has been to ridiculous.

For me, a bad shower situation is make or break- and I know I’m not the only one (cough, Steph, cough). I know that weak pressure, continuously cold or just manky showers put me off joining a particular gym or studio. Lovely showers were actually one of the main attractions at my old gym! What are your experiences at your gym or fitness studio?


  1. Pam and Christine

    With the age of cell phone cameras, a communal shower would freak me out a bit. Showering at home would be my choice!

    • charlotte

      I wouldn’t even think about that side of things!

  2. Scallywag (@ScallywagSprint)

    RIGHT. Well I am pretty uncaring around strangers- I will just get in an out. The showers at our gym are single cubicle but most don’t have curtains. They also can be temperamental in temperature. But hey, its a uni gym and incredibly cheap for what you get. The only bit I find awkward is doing my ‘crevices’! Ha ha.

    Around people I know I’m very awkward if I am not super close to them or I know them to be body judgy or body conscious. I hate having a shower when I’m breathing in the whole time.

    The most awkward situation I’ve had was with a friend- we were perfectly comfortable around each other (this was back when our gym had a totally communal shower area) then her new BF’s ex-GF walks in. Everyone starkers. Super awkward. She had shampoo in her hair so she couldn’t even leave fast.

    • charlotte

      Oh god, that sounds horrific for your poor friend!! I think if a gym or studio is on the expensive side, then it is not acceptable to have communal showers without shampoo and conditioner!! A community gym I am far more accepting!

  3. Naomi

    Totally agree with your (and Steph’s) thoughts Charlie! It’s make or break for me. I need a cubicle to shower in, and at least the option of one to change in, although I can understand the necessity of sometimes having to change in the open if it’s busier – but would prefer this to be post-workout than pre-workout – the thought of trying to get into or out of a sports bra in public horrifies me beyond belief! If I’m going straight to work, I have to have a shower & it makes the rush to catch a train less frantic if I know I can get washed, dried and changed without having to hop around under a towel or worry about what I look like showering!

  4. Corinne

    Nope. Nope nope nope. I’ve never got naked in front of other people. And never will. Even if I’m just getting out of my work clothes and into my gym stuff I’ll use the 2 changing cubicles my current gym has.

    The showers are okay at my gym, they are in cubicles that have doors. They don’t look, but I’m pretty sure nobody would come in. I only use them after I’ve swam though and I’m in my costume. I usually go to the gym after work and then go home in my gym clothes and shower when I’m home. It’s just easier than carting an extra change of clothes, towels etc to the gym!

    It always baffles me that people are cool with getting naked in front of other people. I know I should be okay with getting my tits out, but just can’t!

    Corinne x

  5. Lucy

    At my studio, we have 2 cubicles (with all sides closed in & door), and an open area for communal showering. Personally I would have preferred more cubicles instead of the communal area, but it was all built before I started working there, so not much I can do now! Plenty of people seem to go for the communal area though without seeming too bothered about it. Although some prefer to wait for the cubicle. We’ve noticed that the majority of people go straight home after cycling without showering, whereas almost nobody leaves without showering after Bikram. So the changing rooms do mostly get used by the yoga people.

  6. Ben

    I’m in the mostly don’t care camp, we all have the same bits so why’s it such an issue? Sure it can feel a bit weird being naked in a shower with people you know but it’s really not such a big deal. However there is definitely a case for avoiding excessive nakedness like the guy I saw standing naked with his foot on a stool hair drying his crotch.

  7. Meaghan

    I recently went to Cyclebeat on a visit to London and was a bit surprised by the communal showers! I’m from the US, and no studio in the States would ever dream of having communal showers- so I assumed it must be a British thing! I admit that I ducked into one of the stalls even though the locker room was pretty empty… even though I didn’t know a soul! If I had been with friends, I think I would have felt VERY awkward about the communal showers!

  8. James Clay

    The joys of being a bloke! I’ve been using communal showers since I was 13 and wouldn’t give it a second thought. I’m not interested in looking at them, they’re not interested in looking at me, we’re all just interested in getting clean and getting out.

    Perhaps women are more judgemental of each other (they certainly seem more judgemental of themselves!) but I really don’t see the issue.

  9. Jen Andersen

    I never thought of myself as particularly open until I moved from Denmark to the UK and it was like, night and day in terms of people’s attitude towards nudity. There’s shower cubicles at the gym I go to now but they don’t have any place to put dry clothes and I find it really strange when people take all their clothing in there to put on after they shower. Aren’t they bothered by putting on wet clothes? We’ve all got the same bits (more or less) – what’s the big deal?

    I draw the line at places where you’re able to touch other people in the shower. The track club I used to run with had a communal shower area and the room was not big enough to fit as many shower heads as they had put in and you couldn’t really properly soap yourself if it was crowded because if you bent over, you’d have your bum pressed up against someone else. I think it was designed by some man who had fantasies about naked, soapy women pressing up against each other.

    • Jen Andersen

      And I’m really hoping the last post doesn’t trigger any workplace filters – that would be awkward to explain to IT. More awkward than when I was trying to explain why I was googling how to use a toilet brush.

  10. Kerry

    It’s bizarre right?! I strip off perfectly happily in front of strangers but would feel weird with a close friend. Also, agree that if you’re paying 15/20 pounds for a class (as you are in most studios in London), showers should have shampoo and conditioner. And hairdryers are a nice touch too.

  11. tankmccormick

    I have no issues at all with it, possibly from years of playing team sports which often involved everyone getting changed and showered together. Some times there would be some post match chat, but usually everyone just did there own thing.

    Most blokes would happily just walk around in a pair of shorts so the only thing to hide would be your junk and we all know what that looks like already.

  12. Kev Keenan

    I second James’ comments (most) guys don’t care but I spent 13 years in the Army. On a different note in Iraq the Dutch Army not only had communal showers but unisex communal showers!

  13. sjmartin

    I think it stems from years of doing sport with very communal changing rooms but I literally would never consider communal showers to be an issue! In fact, to be honest I think it’s incredibly reassuring – everyone has the same ‘bits’ and everyone has slightly different bodies, but actually seeing that range has made me more comfortable with myself.
    I used to compete internationally for sailing, and have since travelled a lot for work, so one observation is that this hang-up is definitely a British thing… No one in Europe thinks twice about it.
    I also find it interesting that guys have no problem with communal showers in general, but it invokes complete panic in women – another example of how women feel so much pressure both from themselves and judgement from other women to look ‘a certain way’. We definitely have a long way to go here.

    For me … A far greater irritation is water pressure or showers that do not go sufficiently hot/cold!

  14. Jess

    Haha love this!

    I particularly hate the showers where you have to press a button for water to come out rather than just turning the shower on normally- it usually lasts about 2 seconds before you have to press it again and drives me mad, as well as having conditioner left in my hair all day because I couldn’t wash it properly! Actually checked the showers specifically at my gym before signing up as I knew this would drive me mad on a daily basis!

    Most days I shower at the gym, so I have had to get over my fear of nakedness. I definitely don’t strut round naked or in my underwear, but will just undress discreetly and get on with it, most women seem to be the same where I go and we everyone just keeps themselves to themselves.

    Completely get the undressing in front of friends thing tho, now that makes me feel awkward!

    And communal showers, seriously not a fan but would probably just get on with it if necessary!

    Jess x

  15. misswheezy

    Yeah it’s definitely frustrating that when the classes are so expensive you don’t even get proper showers! I have dashed in and out of communal showers after Bikram as there’s really no alternative after a class that sweaty (!), but mostly I’d just leave in my gym gear and go straight home to shower.

  16. Elle

    I would never go to a gym where there were not private showers.

  17. @littlemissclev

    My gym is a budget chain gym but it does have individual shower cubicles which I am fine using – there is no shower at my office so it’s either that or smell after a morning workout! However I totally agree with you that it’s awkward to get naked in front of your friends but ok with strangers. I guess it shouldn’t make a difference but it totally does!

  18. Billie Wilson

    I had a really strange experience today. The pool at my gym has just reopened and they’ve started running kids swimming classes there. There are only 2 cubical showers and then a big communal shower at my gym. Just as I finished my workout and & wanted to jump in the shower (I was going straight out for dinner so really needed to have one) all the swim classes finished too. The changing room (which is quite small) was filled to bursting with all the kids and parents & all the cubicle showers already taken. I’m normally totally fine about jumping in a communal shower but this was my limit. I felt super uncomfortable about doing that with so many children around as well as mothers watching them/me shower. What would you guys do in this situation? I almost feel like having a chat to the management about it…

  19. lissyruns

    You know my thoughts on the actual nakedness part (run wild & freeeee!) but totally agree on the mankiness. Cold, damp, gross showers would definitely put me off going somewhere. But on the flip side, I have on occasion gone to the gym solely to use the shower!


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