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A gym dilemma... Locker room etiquette in a mixed locker room....

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politicat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-15-05 05:46 PM
Original message
A gym dilemma... Locker room etiquette in a mixed locker room....
I use the community rec center because it is the closest and has the best hours for my physical therapy.

I realize this is a community center, meaning that all ages are welcome and all members of the community are able to use it. I knew that going in. (For the record, I'm not a "kid hater" but I am very uncomfortable with children to whom I am not genetically linked. I'm somewhat the same with adults.) I realize that small children do not necessarily know exactly how to behave and that many, many parents do not have the foresight or the ability to discipline their children so that the children are polite about staring.

I have some pretty severe scarring at the moment (being 6 weeks post-op ACL reconstruction and several other surgeries of similar type). I'm not precisely ashamed of my body, but I am shy, I am reserved and I don't believe that anyone else has a right to visual access to my body without my express consent.

The problem is that parents are allowed to bring their under six year old children into the locker room with them, regardless of the child's gender. I am not comfortable changing in front of someone else's 5 year old son, especially when said boys tend to stare. (Four kids so far, and not a mom in the bunch has taken the moment away from her own swim-suit changing or hair drying to discipline her son on it.)

I've tried different times of day, but the SAH moms are there at all times of day, with their little boys. It really creeps me out and makes me feel like crying that I can't be ignored and treated with the same respect that I give them. Alternately, I really don't want to put myself in a position of being told off that the child has more of a right to what the child is doing than I have to my privacy - and knowing the local culture of parenting, it's quite likely that such a response is exactly what I will get.

Any suggestions? Is it considered bad gym etiquette to take over one of the curtained changing stalls for the time it takes me to change, hose-off and redress? (About 15 minutes, at the moment.) Or should I shorten my workout (I really don't want to do this, because I need both the aerobic and strength training for physical therapy) so I have time to drive home and do the necessaries before I have to be elsewhere? Or should I just give up entirely and buy a weight system for home? (I already have a recumbent bike and a treadmill and small dumbells and yoga mats.)

Thanks in advance.
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flvegan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-15-05 06:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. My opinion:
Take over one of the curtained changing stalls for the time it takes you to change, hose-off and redress.

Do NOT shorten your workout. Do NOT give up entirely. If the rec center allows children in the locker room (bad idea...VERY bad idea), then they should be in anticipation of what folks will do to keep from exposing children to nudity, including, but not limited to folks using changing stalls for 15 minutes (as you've stated).

The rec center should have some sort of "day care" room, where the kids can pass the time while mom or dad (or, hopefully, both) exercise, etc. A locker room with adults isn't appropriate.

It's odd that there was such outrage over Janet Jackson's nipple, possibly seen by kids of this age, but full-on swimsuit changing is okay.
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Droopy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-16-05 12:03 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. What you said.
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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-16-05 07:53 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. The rec center has to allow kids in the changing room if they have a pool.
I usually take mine out dripping wet, put them in the car and change them at home. But some people come from somewhere else, or have somewhere to go after swimming and need a place to change the kids. And 5 years old may be too old to be exposed to a naked stranger of the opposite sex, but it is also too young to use the men's locker room alone.

My gym has an adults only changing room, as well as a separate one that allows kids (and specifically limits adult nudity). So that pretty much takes care of the issue. But in a facility with only one changing area, compromises need to be made.
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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-16-05 02:48 AM
Response to Original message
3. Aaargh! I hate that!
I had a kid, who was looking for his mommy, actually pull open the curtain on me while I was showering!

And yes, moms, if he's staring he's too old to be in there. Sorry, I know it's tough to make arrangements but exposing children to nude adults of the opposite gender is considered abuse by some professionals.

I know, I know, different cultures are open with nudity...nudist communities....blah blah blah. But in the context of Western culture it's not cool.
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MissMillie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-16-05 09:13 AM
Response to Original message
4. the curtained changing stalls are there to give you
whatever privacy you desire. You should feel free to use them at your leisure--whatever it takes to make you comfortable.
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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-16-05 07:42 PM
Response to Original message
5. In defense of the mothers of small children,
we are often so shell shocked and mentally overstimulated that we just don't notice everything the kids are doing.

Do I think staring is rude? Yes. Will I discipline my kids for doing it? Yes. Will I notice my 4 year old doing it while trying to get a recalcitrant 2 year old out of a wet bathing suit and into dry clothing. Unlikely.

We were out the other day, and my daughter was standing off to the side, in my peripheral vision. I was dealing with my son. I heard my daughter speaking to a stranger, so I went over to be certain that everything was ok. The woman had a very bad cut on her leg, and my daughter had been, you guessed it, staring. The woman was explaining about the cut to her. I apologized, but honestly, I would not have even been aware the kid was staring if the woman hadn't taken upon herself to chat with my daughter.

Use the changing stalls. I am not aware of any etiquette. If there is a time limit, it should be posted.
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