Proper etiquette for the showers/ hot tub at the YMCA?
September 25, 2009 7:40 PM   Subscribe

What is the proper etiquette for the showers/ hot tub at the YMCA? I have been using my local YMCA for a few months now, and have so far not used the showers or the hot tub.... but I would love to do so. My question is this - what's the dress code? naked for the shower? naked in the hut tub? bathing suit? I have no idea. I don't mind being naked around other men, I just don't want to be the naked man who's doing it wrong. I know, it's a silly question. but still.
posted by bradth27 to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just ask for some guidance at the front desk. The YMCA where I belong is co-ed (with separate locker/shower rooms), as are the steam room, hot tub, and sauna - so swimsuits there are the rule. In the showers - well, ya gotta get nekkid to get clean!
posted by dbmcd at 8:07 PM on September 25, 2009

The YMCA I occasionally visit has separate steam and sauna rooms for men and women. They're in the same larger room with the showers and hot tub. Most men wear towels, most of them take the towel off in the hot tub. Some just walk around butt naked. It's best to have a few towels with you in the steam and sauna for perspiration anyway. No shame in having covering. But, it's the Y. Dudes are going to be walking around nude in the locker room and shower area.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:17 PM on September 25, 2009

In women's locker rooms, it varies. I happen to belong to a mixed gym, and it's the only place I've ever been where some women are naked in steam and whirlpool, and others are modest. Everywhere else I've worked out has been either naked, or keep yourself covered.

Just see what people do at your gym. If you see most men walking from the shower back to the locker with everything swinging in the breeze, feel free to do the same. If men tend to be fully wrapped in towels going to and from, then follow that rule.

You should at least have a towel between your skin and the bench in steam and sauna.

I am told that men tend to like to see other men where shoes (flip flops or something) in the wet areas to avoid athletes feets.

FWIW, in my experience, the more expensive the club, the more likely a single sex area is naked. Inexpensive suburban YMCA's tend to have bathing suited women in steam, sauna, and whirlpool. Ritzy private clubs tend to be naked.

It's not a silly question. Everyone likes to know how to dress (or undress) so that no one is uncomfortable.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:17 PM on September 25, 2009

Hey bradth27, I go to the YMCA at least six times a week. I love that place (I'm a gym junkie, as you can tell). Here's the consensus between myself and my friends: Do what you have to do for your business, and nothing more.

Which is to say, when in the sauna, utilize a towel / swim shorts to cover yourself. There's no practical reason to be entirely naked in there. Yeah, we've all got body parts, and yeah, its cool, but we don't have to share them with one another, haha, right?

The shower facilities in my facility are adjacent to the sauna and steam room, so my experience may differ, but this is what is common at my gym: you have to be naked to get entirely clean, so when showering after a good workout, its entirely OK to be naked (and I'll say here, there's this really weird reaction to the human form in our society - I mean, we're all human right? I digress.) But on your way to and from the shower, you don't have to be naked. I mean, if you feel compelled not to cover yourself with a towel, ok, whatever floats your boat man. But if its all the same to you, let's use a towel in transit from one location to another, you know what I mean?

There's no right or wrong way for this. At the worst you make some people uncomfortable, and stretch their mental frameworks. At the best, you cause no ripple in the pond. You can't lose!
posted by platosadvocate at 8:56 PM on September 25, 2009

Not a silly question at all! The feeling that you're "doing it wrong" can be a really awkward one where nudity is involved, so why not get it right? Really, I would do your best to follow the crowd. When you come in after your workout, grab a towel or two and get out of your sweaty clo0thes. Do people seem to be walking to/from the showers naked? If so, you can walk over naked too, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with wrapping a towel around yourself if you like--nobody is going to care. Go shower and dry off and return to your locker the same way you went to the shower. Get dressed.

Where is your hot tub? If it's like out with the pool, obviously wear a bathing suit. In the steam room, you can always wrap a towel around yourself, go into the room, and sit down. If people are all sitting there naked, you can unwrap and just sit on the towel. If everyone is covered, do as they do.

Really, you can't do anything wrong here besides going out into public co-ed areas while nude, and you sound like you have the good sense to avoid the resulting criminal proceedings. Thus anything you do (except wearing white tie) will be well within the range of acceptable normal locker room clothing behavior, even if it puts you slightly in the minority at your particular gym. I have never seen anyone be called out on their locker room clothing or lack thereof, including the guy who's clothes were covered in dripping wet mud as he attempted to dry out his muddy shoes with the gym's hairdryer. Actually, he was a friend of mine and I did call him out on that, but only to say WTF? No-one else cared.

In other words, you can't break it. Just take reasonable steps to follow the crowd and you can't go wrong.
posted by zachlipton at 9:31 PM on September 25, 2009

Safe defaults: naked in shower, towel wrap to and from shower, towel wrap in sauna.
posted by zippy at 9:47 PM on September 25, 2009

2nding the just-follow-the-crowd and be comfortable suggestions--

The only suggestion I'll add is that you not use a bathing suit in the sauna, or really any clothing that's been in pool/hot-tub water. Depending how hot your sauna is, the evaporation of all the cleaning chemicals can wreck havoc on people's respiratory systems. (It's why most saunas require you to shower before entering)
You should however, have a towel at least under you, so as to not get excessive sweat on the wood-- just make sure the towel's not been in pool water.
posted by Seeba at 10:23 PM on September 25, 2009

Covered except where it's stupid. It would be stupid to shower with a towel, so I think most people can expect some nudity where water is involved.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:32 AM on September 26, 2009

I say naked in the shower, hot tub, sauna and towel wrap in transit.

Re the sauna: The sauna is hot. You sweat. It is uncomfortable to gather sweat in your nether regions. Therefore, it is extremely practical to be naked in the sauna so that you are not swimming in your own sweat by the end of your time in there. But for the love of all that is holy, sit on a towel.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:27 AM on September 26, 2009

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