A few years ago my gym closed the men’s locker room for renovation, and during this time turned the women’s locker room into a unisex bathroom. I don’t remember how this played out exactly – I guess showering was reserved for only those without the least sense of modesty. I do recall thinking like a third-grade boy how cool it was to be hanging out in the women’s bathroom, if only just to throw my gym bag into a locker. I also felt there was sure to be trouble when the men’s room finally reopened, and guys still walked into the ladies’ room out of force of habit.
I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the importance of an exterior locker room door. For example, my gym was able to cover the ladies’ room door with warnings during and after renovation – one last deterrent against a co-gender calamity. At many gyms, however, the locker room entrances are nothing more than cavernous openings, with privacy achieved through the architecture of interior walls.
I recently worked out at a gym I hadn’t visited in a number of years. The entire gym had been overhauled, and the locker rooms were completely redone. For whatever reason, the location of the men’s and women’s locker rooms had also been reversed. Only a small sign on the wall by each opening indicated which members belonged where.
Just like old times, I powered through a tough workout at this gym. I finished exercising and wandered into the men’s room, my head down in a post-workout fog.
When I looked up, I was surprised not only by how substantially the layout of the men’s room had changed in the last hour, but also by the presence of two women wearing only shorts and bras. I suddenly realized I had two choices. I could either say “Oops, sorry!” and sprint out of there, clearing my conscience but drawing attention to myself. Or, I could quietly reverse course and slip away like some peeping-tom. While I debated these choices in my head, my legs took over. I spun away from my blunder and rushed out, diving into the sanctuary of the adjacent men’s room.