Confession: I Don't Change in the Locker Room


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/19/2013 12:00 PM   :  856 comments   :  174,838 Views

I grew up playing school sports and taking phys ed class, so I've been in my share of locker rooms. But now that I'm an adult, the only locker room I encounter is at the gym. And to be perfectly honest, I'm really—I mean REALLY—uncomfortable changing in the women's locker room. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the odd woman out or if I'm normal after all.

When I was in high school, everyone would change in the locker room before gym, practices and games. But unlike my parents' generation, we weren't required to shower there afterwards, and I don't think a single girl ever used the locker room showers. Beyond that, we were mostly clothed most of the time. Although you wouldn't know it from seeing how Hollywood often depicts the "girls locker room," there were no thongs or bare chests. At my school, the girls would change as quickly as possible, usually not talking to each other much and facing away from one another. And when we'd have to put on sports bras, we were pros on being prudish: We'd put our sports bras on top of our underwire bras, and then unclasp and strategically pull the underwire bra out from underneath the sports bra—never exposing anything to anyone. I never thought any of this was weird or uncomfortable at the time. Perhaps I was more comfortable with my body then than I am today. But now that I have the choice about where to change, rare is the day that I change clothes in my gym locker room.

I don't know why I feel so weird about it. Maybe it's because this environment is strikingly different than the locker rooms of my youth. Here, women actually walk around, face each other, and even talk to each other in various states of undress. And they use the showers, too! And it's not just the thin ones or older ones or the fit ones. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes seem to be really comfortable being naked or half-naked in front of other women. Not me. I pretty much avoid it if at all possible, usually changing in the restroom at work before I head to the gym, or sometimes changing in the bathroom stall inside the locker room.

I don't know what I'm so afraid of—maybe silent judgment? We all know how women can be, how we size each other up and compare ourselves to others. Maybe I don't like it just because it's so different than what I grew up with. Or maybe it's a generational thing. I know that my mom and grandmother are a lot more comfortable about this stuff than my sister and I are.

But in reality, I'm actually jealous. I wish I could be as free and feel as comfortable about my own body as these women seem to feel about theirs.

How about you? Do you feel self-conscious in the locker room? Or do you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing?

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  • 856
    I think you have to go with what is comfortable for you, but that said, I was shy when younger (it really bothered me) but got over it as I got older. I think the benefit of that was realizing that I could get past what "others" might think of me, and of accepting my body as "mine" and no one else's business. It was a better attitude for me and liberating to realize it's a cultural hangup. All I worry about in locker rooms is my feet and catching athlete's foot or the like! - 10/2/2015   9:44:07 AM
  • 855
    As I go early in the morning to the gym, it is more convenient for me to go back home to shower, fix breakfast, and get ready than it is to do it in the locker room. - 9/24/2015   11:02:50 AM
  • 854
    I am not a locker room person either. I was always VERY uncomfortable with it while growing up -- just modest, I guess. - 9/20/2015   12:22:45 PM
  • 853
    I am quite comfortable in the locker room--but I'm also your mother's generation! - 8/18/2015   4:50:19 PM
  • BLONDY01
    I never took showers after gym class, but I've never been super shy about my body. Then I went through Basic Training and had group showers and no privacy at all so now I don't even think about it. I shower at the gym and I walk from the stall where I put my stuff to the shower naked but then I have my towel on walking to my locker, where I get dressed. It's so nice to take a shower without having someone else in the house wanting the bathroom. - 6/22/2015   10:25:23 PM
  • 851
    I usually hit the gym after work, so I change in the locker room and it doesn't bother me. I was telling my husband how much I liked Planet Fitness and I mentioned that the locker room was always clean and well-maintained. To which he replied, "I'm not really a locker room guy." I kind of chuckled, cause I wouldn't call myself a locker room girl either. But the only time I use the stalls to change is when I'm wearing Spanx. No one needs to see me shimmy out of those! - 6/22/2015   1:47:28 PM
  • 850
    I have no problem changing in the locker room, but I definitely do not think you are "making a big deal out of nothing," though. We all have different securities and insecurities, and that is ok! - 6/9/2015   8:34:03 PM
  • 849
    I'm not comfortable enough to walk around naked or near naked like some people are but I change quickly in front of my locker. I don't shower though. Only if I swim. I usually don't have time to shower as it is my lunch hour. - 6/9/2015   6:28:14 PM
  • 848
    I've noticed this is a very "American" thing, being shy in locker rooms. A lot of my locker room experience has been either in Mexico or at my local YMCA where many of the members are older women and in NY we're a pretty international bunch of ladies. People are 100% buck nakid everywhere and I haven't ever noticed. I will admit I feel a lot more confident in a bikini or nakid in Mexico than I do in America, always. - 6/9/2015   4:07:57 PM
    I feel the same! I know that part of it is being self-conscious about my weight, but I'm also pretty ... prudish, maybe? Even with my doctor, I feel uncomfortable and I know she's seen it ALL! - 6/9/2015   10:25:59 AM
  • 846
    Great article, I'm glad I'm not the only one.

    I am so self conscious of my body (i) because I am so overweight (ii) I suffer from psorisis and parts of my body are scarred from old flare ups.

    I normally wear my workout clothes to the gym and carry a change of clothes and a pack of baby wipes in my bag. When I've finished my workout I normally go to the toilets,have a 'wipe down' with the baby wipes, and get changed in there. - 6/9/2015   3:52:05 AM
  • 845
    At my Y everyone changes in a curtained booth. In nearly 5 years I've only seen two women walk through the locker room not fully clothed. Don't know how I'd feel in the gym room you describe. - 5/3/2015   5:26:54 PM
  • 844
    I think I have been a nurse to long. I have seen every shape and size of many and woman you could imagine. The human body holds no surprises for me and I just don't care one way or the other. I go to the gym before work and shower there and am not bothered if a naked woman talks to me. - 5/3/2015   4:29:28 PM
  • 843
    I actually managed to avoid changing in front of others during gym class. The locker room had this odd room in the back. No door, but it was away from everyone enough to where I wasn't being seen. Another likeminded girl took refuge in the unused shower stalls. I haven't changed my stance on changing clothes since then. - 5/3/2015   11:42:04 AM
  • 842
    Oddly, I feel a sense of neurotic camaraderie. Every woman in the locker room struggles with at least a smidgen of body image issues. I guess I feel part of a sisterhood of imperfect humans working on our fitness and health goals. I suppose that sounds a little sappy, but that thought helps me not be too hard on myself if I can cut my fellow exercisers some slack. AND, after my workout, I'm a hot mess (literally!) :) - 4/15/2015   12:01:58 AM
  • IGIRL66
    I am very modest in the gym locker room. I change in the bathroom at work, head to the gym, go home in my gym clothes and shower in the privacy of my own home. My current gym has a lot of very young, very fit, very attractive members. I feel like that Planet Fitness gymtimidation ad with the Baywatch-esque women in their skimpy outfits telling each other how hot they are. There are a lot of fake boobs on display, and my sagging, pendulous “real ones” remain securely tucked away under two sports bras and a t-shirt. I’m sure the sight of them would frighten the young girls. Shortly after I joined the gym I was privy to a conversation/show and tell between three women comparing their bikini waxes. *shudder* The waxing style comparison completely chased away all thoughts of changing in that locker room. While I envy their comfort and openness with their bodies, I’m not sure I really want to get to that level of intimacy with random women at the gym. So. I avoid the locker room as much as possible.

    However, it was the absolute other end of the spectrum of my current gym. Many of the women in that gym were middle aged moms and seniors and there was a much stronger feeling of camaraderie. Many of the women were recovering from hip and knee replacements, back surgeries and other ailments and needed help changing in and out of their clothes. There was a much stronger spirit of “community of women” helping each other. They maintained enough modesty to remain as dignified as possible, but when nakedness was necessary there was an acceptance of sagging, bulging, scarring, and dimpling. I still didn't prance around naked, but I wasn't as opposed about exposing any flesh in the locker room as I have been at other gyms. - 4/14/2015   9:52:08 AM
  • 840
    When I was a teenager, I changed in the locker room. I never really looked at anyone, I just tried to hurry up. We had to change, or we would get in trouble. One day I was in a hurry to leave so I didn't get tardy to my next class, and the gym teacher gave me a D for that semester. She said I was wearing street clothes to class. Anyway, when I got to have a choice about taking PE or not, I did not! I never showered there, and once a girl did, but I was so surprised, I screamed when I saw her and she did too! That was not nice of me, but I didn't mean anything. I was just so surprised.

    Now that I'm an adult, I do shower. It's good to get that salt off you as soon as possible. And especially if you've been swimming, you can wash away the germs from that. The gym I last was at, no one talked in the locker room. What I thought was weird was seeing the children changing. That felt strange. Now they have their very own locker room, and the women have a separate one. So I must not be the only one who feels weird about that. - 3/30/2015   9:44:52 PM
  • 839
    No one ever used the showers at my school. Now as an adult, when I'm at the pool or gym, I change in the stalls. I'm not embarrassed of my body or anything..... I'm just not comfortable with changing out in the open. When I'm out with my sisters or friends clothes shopping, I have no problem changing in front of them. I guess I just don't like changing in front of strangers. I've never given it much thought. I've just always been that way. I don't mind others using the changing the room, it's just not for me. To each their own, I guess. - 3/12/2015   6:33:54 PM
  • 838
    The trick is not to care.
    Once you make peace with your body, you realize it doesn't matter.
    I could care less if I see someone naked, and I could care less if someone else sees me naked. I'm morbidly obese, so it isn't like I'm particularly proud of my body, but I'm not concerned about what anyone thinks about it either. Between the military and my stint in healthcare, a naked body is just a naked body to me, whether mine or someone else's. I may be an introvert, but I don't care enough about other people's opinions to be self-conscious.
    - 2/18/2015   8:37:21 AM
  • 837
    Maybe a bit of a generational thing. I'm 58 and in my high school we were required to shower. If you were "on your monthly" you were allowed a private shower but you had to tell the gym teacher and she marked it down so you couldn't get away with "cheating". We undressed at our lockers and walked (usually covering ourselves with our little towels, to this walk-through shower. You'd hold the towel up over your head and walk through a series of sprayers. I can't remember how long it was anymore but if I had to guess, I'd say maybe 20 or so feet. Then you'd cover up again and walk to your locker where you'd towel dry and put on your clothes. I find that I'm OK with changing in my gym's locker room (and I'm about 60 pounds overweight so it's not like I want to flaunt myself!). I'm uncomfortable with women walking around naked, though. At my current gym no one does that but at my last gym a lot of women did. That last gym had a younger and far more physically fit crowd so maybe they felt "if you've got it, flaunt it". - 2/6/2015   1:55:16 PM
  • 836
    Me too!

    I recently bit the bullet and decided not to follow the status quo, but change in one of the only two cubicles available. The one next door immediately filled and when I came out, there was a small queue! Everyone seems to feel awkward, but that we shouldn't be because no one else is. Not true - change how and when you want, none of this peer pressure nonsense.

    Thanks for sharing! - 1/16/2015   11:13:55 AM
  • 835
    Thanks for posting this article and everyone's comments! I thought I was the only one who felt this way! When I look around the locker room I always feel so insecure and it seems like everyone is so beautiful compared to me. I've lost about 100 lbs at this point and I'm so embarrased by how my skin has stretched out. I guess it would help if I tried not to look at the other women but it's impossible not to see them. I feel like I need to stay and take a shower because I get sweaty in the gym. I need to build my self confidence but sometimes it feels like I'm just the ugliest one there. I hate the locker room and it's the worst part of the gym for me. - 12/31/2014   11:14:43 AM
  • 834
    I do not think it is a generational thing, it is just your own personal comfort level and maybe it comes from what you are used to. I say each to their own, if you like to go undercover to change that is fine and nothing wrong with it and if you like to let it all hangout just know that I wont be using a locker near you. My mother was ok with hanging it all out but she grew up with a house full of sisters that all shared bedrooms. I had sisters but had my own room and so I am like it more private.

    I do use the showers but I go with a spray disinfectant for the floor and my clothing to change into.

    So no, you are not alone, there are a lot of us out there that love a private dressing area. - 12/13/2014   1:56:04 AM
  • 833
    Well, now I feel really strange. I don't mind my out of shape, or is it lot of shape, body showing in the locker room. My problem is I just don't know the etiquette of changing in the locker room. How to figure this out? Suggestions would be good. Thanks in advance. - 12/6/2014   11:33:09 PM
  • 832
    I guess I am with you, I am probably of your parents generation, and we never changed in the locker room with others, there were individual shower cubes and we changed in them after showering, we were required to shower after gym. I don't go to a gym, there are not any in my area without a long drive but I would not undress in front of others. I find that the way a lot of young people with half their chests hanging out to be embarrassment enough without stripping in front of a bunch of people. It has nothing to do with how I view my body, good or bad, just the feeling that my body is my business not everyone else's to view. I don't mind running around the house not completely clothed, but not in public. - 12/4/2014   1:57:01 PM
  • 831
    ditto! Then again I felt that way in school. Girls can sometime be worse than the guys. You have to have fancy matching this and that... Now those cameras used in an area that they don't belong anymore have become a threat to a persons peace of mind. Too bad they can't be blocked. - 11/25/2014   8:02:25 PM
  • 830
    When I was a kid, it used to annoy me when the camp counselors would go into the bathroom to change. We were all girls. Yes, they were more developed than us, but I thought it was weird that they would change in private when the rest of us had to change in the presence of others.

    So, when I became I a camp counselor, I changed in front of the girls. I was hoping it would send the message there's nothing weird or unusual about our bodies. I wanted to "demystify" the female body.

    One of the other women counselors told me she overheard one of "my" girls telling another girl, "Kim's not afraid to take her clothes off in front of anyone - probably not even boys!"

    I'm modest - I try to keep myself covered when I'm walking around in the locker room. But I don't try to hide my scarred, flabby, middle-aged body. We come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and each of us has our own inherent beauty.

    But if you're uncomfortable gettin' nekkid, that's okay, too. Why worry about it? You're certainly not harming me. I wish you would be more confident, but I have no desire to see more naked people, either. - 11/25/2014   7:59:21 PM
  • 829
    I'm with you, Coach Nicole. - 11/25/2014   5:05:29 PM
  • 828
    I use to be exactly like this. In HS I never changed in front of other women. They were just awful and vicious toward me outside the locker room so I avoided that whole situation. That coupled with the fact I was brought up with a somewhat of a religious family. It wasn't until I was older and I was a nurse that I could give a whoooot less because we are all truly the same inside an out. and The fact that I have a bit of extra flesh on me well I am in great company with most of the american population is overweight or obese. soooo what…. - 11/25/2014   4:57:30 PM
  • 827
    I go to the gym after work, so I go home and change, then drive to the gym. Saves me time. - 11/25/2014   1:16:41 PM
  • 826
    I belong to the YMCA. There are dressing booths and each shower has two curtains. Rarely do I see anyone walking around in less than fully clothed. Don't know how I'd feel in a gym like yours. - 11/25/2014   1:08:16 PM
  • 825
    I usually change at home since it's only 5 minutes away from the gym. However, if I have errands to do, I always use a bathroom stall. If I need to shower, I shower with my swimsuit on, then go to a bathroom stall to change. For me, the best way you can love your body is through modesty:)) - 11/25/2014   12:18:06 PM
    For several years, I changed and showered in the locker room. I, too, was amazed at how freely some women would walk around without many or any clothes. Eventually, I got more comfortable with it, but never did it myself.
    After an injury, I've changed my habits and now change and shower at home. No strong reason for this, except that I was a little bothered by the cleanliness (or lack of) of the showers. - 11/25/2014   8:44:25 AM
    Great blog, something to think about. I avoid the locker room whenever possible.When I do have to use it, I change and move on. My body is amazing the way it is! I don't care to dwell on over-assessing myself or others. If someone looks great, I tell them so. If someone wants to talk while we change, cool. I guess it is just, no big deal! - 11/25/2014   7:37:29 AM
    Beldame and others, don't watch other people in the locker room! It is just plain rude and if you look that is your problem. I know my body is not perfect and I know there are many mean people in the locker room that judge (including the ones who say they just don't want to see anyone else's body wiggle into clothes, etc.) but that is your problem and your problem alone. Don't use the locker room if you don't want to see others change. I am proud of of the weight I've lost so far and if you don't want to see a wrinkle of fat of my body move when I quickly put on my sports bra, go workout at home. - 10/11/2014   2:25:11 PM
  • 821
    I'm a fan of modesty, and I wish everyone was, too. I don't care what kind of shape you're in, I just have no desire to watch you waggle your straggly pubes about in the locker room. - 10/8/2014   10:15:26 AM
  • 820
    Even when I was younger and swam competitively on the local team, I would either change in a shower/bathroom stall, or my sister, cousin, and I would take turns holding up towels for each other in the corner while one of us changed. We had some teammates who were less modest, but I think those tendencies are based on one's home environment and personal feelings toward modesty. The three of us (sister, cousin, and myself) were raised to be more modest about our bodies as young kids. They both have amazing body confidence now, and regularly wear bikinis or midriff-baring outfits to workout (they also both tan well, and I don't). I however, have never outgrown that modesty and will continue to cover up. When I belonged to a gym and had to change there before/after class due to coming from work or leaving into cold weather, I waited to shower when I got home and didn't use the sauna/steam room. The YMCA back home has rules that require everyone to use a towel when in these rooms, but some gyms don't. Personally, I don't want to sit where someone else's exposed buns have been. - 9/12/2014   2:24:32 PM
  • KELLS42
    I guess I'm the odd one on the other side of the spectrum. I go to the indoor pool every day for fun and exercise some times my friends come along if us freshman don't have homework. I never have been shy with nudity I mean I leave my towel at the benches and don't use one in the sauna. A lot of my friends are shy about it but I mean we're all going through changes at 14 so I can see there perspective. So ermines I get wierd looks because I'm so open about nudity and will strike a conversation with a random person my age and forget I'm not wearing a strand of clothing... But that's just my thoughts - 9/3/2014   10:31:28 PM
  • 818
    I just started doing water therapy at the Y and the first visit I put my suit on in a shower stall because there were SO many women in the locker room loitering, not changing, just dressed talking. The next week I was alone so I did the down to skivvies and quick change. I worked in corrections for almost 10 years and had to strip search women of all shapes and sizes so I have NO issue with seeing others, but when it comes to having to remove more than my bra and underwear, I don't know how any of the inmates could ever have done it! It feels so strange! I am a very large girl, but my opinion of someone seeing my "excess" in my undies is "if you don't like what you are looking at, then quit looking at it!" Same as if I were in clothing! I have always have that attitude and I think everyone should. We are all self conscious of our bodies, but really, if the person that is looking at us doesn't think we are as beautiful as we KNOW we are inside and out, then all they need to do is stop staring and look away. Simple as that!
    - 8/14/2014   1:03:23 AM
  • 817
    My irrational fear of picking up a foot disease outweighs my fear of undressing in front of other people. Maybe it is because the locker room I go to is a pool locker room and people of all ages use it? I don't like changing in the bathroom stalls because I feel they are unclean, and while I do shower after working out/swimming, I do it as if I were on fire and with sandals on. The opportunity to get ready without kids or husband interrupting means I dry off modestly, put on a bra and pants, and then blowdry my hair, then put on a shirt and fix my hair and makeup. So there you go - the only thing I won't take off in a locker room is my sandals, and my main motivation for spending a few seconds naked or half naked in front of others is half phobia and half excitement over having blessed uninterrupted 'me' time for getting ready. - 8/4/2014   8:39:43 AM
  • 816
    I was never in a situation where I became accustomed to it, to the point where I thought maybe changing in front of others in a locker room was only in movies. Lol. Insecurities aside, I just never grew up changing around others like that, so naturally it's not something I became comfortable with. - 7/7/2014   10:16:58 AM
  • 815
    I change in the bathroom stall. I've always been modest that way. I'd also prefer not to see other people changing either - 6/16/2014   9:35:48 AM
    I am very self-conscious about it. I change in the dressing room type stalls we have in my gym locker room. I tell myself this is because I am self-conscious about my weight/body but honestly I would probably do the same thing at my goal weight. - 4/1/2014   1:28:05 PM
  • 813
    I grew up in theatre and when there are 15+ girls sharing the dressing room (plus directors and stage crew hollering for you every 10 or so minutes) modesty kinda goes out the window in favor of expediancy. I don't feel 100% comfortable in my skin and certainly wont pararde around undressed but I also don't get super bothered being less than fully dressed in public or semi public places so while I do change in the locker room, I do it quickly. It's wierd my biggest hangup is not my body but thinking someone is going to give me grief because I fully stripped down, that's probably thanks to my mother forever telling me growing up that I needed to be more modest. - 3/4/2014   12:36:48 PM
  • 812
    I attend a Senior "Lifestyle Pass" Group of wonderful ladies, and on occasion a few men join our classes, but when it comes to the LADIES LOCKER ROOM, we all feel the same way....we give each other RESPECT whenever, and however possible. Be it letting each one change in separate areas, such as one behind the SHOWER area, on the DRESSING area, two bathroom stalls are used, and one person in the open area. We also, will "allow a few people" to leave the pool at a time...lingering to gab, making plans for lunch, etc. Are we doing it because we do not want to be seen....maybe, but I honestly feel it is showing respect for each other. - 2/28/2014   8:42:33 PM
    I scanned through the newest comments below and didn't see anything similar, so maybe this is a new look at the situation.

    I'm still what the BMI index calls obese (I'm about 70 lbs overweight), and changing in the locker room makes me feel like I want to throw up. It's always crowded and despite the policy, there's no Lunk Alarm for the locker room. But I always do it anyway. Not showing anything off or swinging things in people's faces, but not going out of my way to hide either.

    I change clothes in the locker room of my gym BECAUSE of all of my issues, and because women judge. Just because my body doesn't look like what Allure and Cosmo tell me it's supposed to look like doesn't mean I should be ashamed of it. Am I overweight? Obviously. Do I need to lose weight? Yes. Am I not very attractive physically because of these things? Maybe. I don't think so, but it's a possibility, I guess. But none of this adds up to a reason I should be ashamed of my body. It's the only one I have. And also, I'm the only one responsible for the condition that it's in. So I have to own that. It might make me a nervous wreck to let people see it, but I'm never getting rid of it wholesale. So I might as well learn to like it while it's not how I want it to be, so I can love it when it is.

    Does this make any sense? - 2/28/2014   5:11:25 PM
    I go to the gym completely dressed for my workout, then go straight home for my shower, no changing. When I used to go to the pool after work, I changed in the locker room - although very quickly and discreetly. When I wasn't working but going to water exercise classes, I went into a bathroom to change into dry clothes before driving home. I've yo-yo'd between being a healthy weight and various stages of overweight since childhood - it doesn't matter what size I am - I 'm not comfortable changing in public. - 2/28/2014   5:05:20 PM
  • 809
    I'm uncomfortable changing in the locker room, but I fake it. I pretend that it doesn't bother me and the more I do it, the more comfortable I am :) especially at the pool, I have to shower off the chlorine or my skin starts itching soon after, and the showers there are open to the rest of the locker room. - 2/28/2014   3:53:59 PM
  • 808
    I change and shower at the gym locker room but I don't walk around naked.

    I use a towel when walking to/from the showers. I try my best to get dressed quickly while still having the towel around me. I'm sure other women get glimpses of my body here and there but I'm not completely exposed and don't hang around chatting while undressed.

    Some women do but in my gym I noticed most women are like me. We have a few that will change in the bathroom stalls. I thought about it but can't stand the smell (yuck!).

    I think if I were in a different environment and felt judged by the other women I probably wouldn't but most ladies are friendly and respectful so I feel comfortable. - 2/28/2014   2:03:37 PM
  • 807
    I get changed in the locker room - it doesn't bother me if someone gets a glimpse of my naked self while I'm getting changed. I know my body isn't "perfect" but I don't care and I'm quite sure no one else in my locker room cares either. Do what you are comfortable with...I don't think it matters either way. What is it important is that you are working out! - 2/28/2014   12:58:54 PM

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