Assuming you go to the gym, it’s a situation we’ve all found ourselves in: awkward behaviour in the steam room. There are all sorts of inappropriate, stupid things that happen in the steam room that seem inexplicable and unexplainable.
I’ve been in enough steam rooms in my life to see things that I never thought would take place, and I have heard stories from so many other men and women echoing the same sentiment. This led me to believe that it would be important to compile a list of behaviours and actions that are inappropriate for any of you out there who may not have a good grasp on these things.
While each gym has their own set of rules and general guidelines for steam room etiquette, I have my own set of hard and fast guidelines that all people should abide, no matter which locker room you choose to go into. For some strange reason human decency gets thrown out the window in locker rooms around the globe. Listen, I’m not a prude and if you choose to walk around naked that’s your prerogative, but certain lines need to be drawn in certain areas, and that’s what the crux of my argument is today.
This is an article I didn’t think I would ever have to write, but after a few recent trips to the gym my hand has been forced.
I want everyone to read this closely and take heed of my words; this is important shit. I’m not trying to restrict your enjoyment either, and should you find yourself in the steam room alone then you’re welcome to throw caution to the wind. This is about respecting your fellow man and woman, and letting them enjoy the steam room comfortably as well. With all of that in mind, here are some basic ideas to follow when it comes to steam room etiquette.
It’s probably fair to say that the rainforest-like conditions in the steam room lead to prime shaving opportunities as your follicles are open and ready for the taking. Whether it be your face, legs, or anything in between, shaving in the steam room is wildly inappropriate.
For a few reasons, really. First of all, it’s pretty gross. I don’t need to see you shaving your pubes in the steam room. Even your face is too much for me. There’s a risk that your discarded hair is going to end up on me at some point, and that I cannot abide.
Second, I didn’t come into the steam room to watch and listen to the act of shaving. It’s a spot to relax and calm down after a strenuous workout, so don’t ruin that for other people.
The steam room is not your home shower, don’t treat it as such. Regardless of body part or area, shaving is a home activity and your fellow patrons will certainly appreciate you leaving the razor at home.
I was at the gym recently and thought I would hop into the steam room for a little post-workout relaxation. Things were going swimmingly until another gentleman sauntered in and thought it was high time he ripped off a few sets of sit-ups to put a nice little cap on his own workout.
This is not why I came into the steam room and shouldn’t be why he came in there either. Aside from the uncomfortable visual (let’s just say he didn’t position himself in a spot that had his legs facing a corner), the noises emanating from his body were not something I had wanted to hear and have since haunted my dreams.
The reason people go to the gym is to exercise. You don’t go to the steam room to exercise. If you feel the need to rip off a few more sets after you have completed your workout, well there’s a whole gym for that. Leave the steam room to those who want to relax and settle down after they got their pump on. It’s uncouth and I don’t want to see or hear you do that in the steam room.
This one is of the utmost importance. As most people are typically going to be going for a steam immediately after their workout, they have probably worked up a bit of a lather and cultivated something of a musk. Heading into a shvitz will only serve to, let’s say, enliven that musk.
What I’m dancing around here is that you’re going to stink after a workout and going into the steam room immediately after without a quick rinse will enhance that stink. It’s like farting in the shower. Do yourself and your fellow patrons a favour and give yourself a once-over in the shower (maybe even use body wash if your musk is of the strong variety) before you hop into the steam room.
Being in there with someone who has a little BO going on is an awful experience. It’s a common courtesy and what should be a firm rule at your local gym. It’s not the 80s anyone and steam rooms have progressed, like the rest of the world. Men don’t dress like Richard Gere anyone, nor should they adopt his steam room habits (legend has it that ol’ Swingin’ Dick Gere famously never showered before hopping in the steam room).
To wear or not wear a towel while steaming is certainly open to interpretation. Many gyms will have rules about these sorts of matters and many will not. What I say is this: do what feels right but don’t overdo it. Should you choose to forgo the towel and let nature do the talking, that’s perfectly fine (the rules for unisex steam rooms or saunas are a little different here).
But try and keep your things in order, if that makes sense. No “manspreading” or any other similar behaviour. Everyone should be mature enough to deal with a little nudity, this goes for the ladies too, but this isn’t Haight-Ashbury circa 1967. Do what’s appropriate and if you choose to be naked than that’s your right.
This is what I consider to be another sticky wicket. Some people are naturally chatty, and that’s okay! Other people are certainly not chatty and hate to be bothered at the gym, and that’s okay too! I think it’s always best to try and get a read of the room as you walk in, should you be looking for a little idle chit-chat.
A simple “how are ya?” is always appropriate and people will appreciate your friendly nature. Where things go from there is in your hands. If someone responds in kind and seems open you’re welcome to continue the conversation, but don’t press too hard. If someone offers a simple yet taciturn response then it’s probably best to let sleeping dogs lie.
Some people merely want to relax in the steam room and you have to let them do so instead of asking them what they do for a living, a tired question even at the best of times. Try and exercise a modicum of social awareness and read the response the person gives you. and if someone decides to talk to you, act accordingly. If you would like to engage do your best to sound warm and friendly, if not, be courteous but terse.
These are what we have determined to be the most important bits of steam room etiquette. Try and remember these rules of the road the next time you head to the gym and find yourself jonesing for a steam. They’re pretty simple and show respect for the institution as well as your fellow gym patrons. Finally, don’t pee on the steam rocks. Yes, this was funny when you were 13 and you could trap one of your buddies in there but those days are long over. I shouldn’t have even planted that idea in your heads.