Yesterday I took a shower after my morning run. This, of course, was not unusual because I shower on a regular basis. The atypical part was that I was home. As I stood under the water, I realized I had not showered at home in weeks; I take all of my showers at the gym. This train of thought led me to reminisce about some of the places I have showered over the years.
My current gym has 7 individual showers. Generally, after a masters swim, there is a wait. Unless you languish in the hot tub, as I do, until they clear out. In the winter, there is often a dearth of hot water. The shower area is fairly clean; just avoid looking too closely at the drains. Yuck.I will spare you kind readers the often hilarious yet inappropriate stories that have been passed around about the men's locker room and shower area.
The biggest perk at my gym is the towel service. So what if the towels barely wrap around your body and they feel like sandpaper? Somebody else is washing them.
The gym I frequented in Baltimore boasted some of the worst showers on the planet. It was a shower area with 6 shower heads. None of them had proper water pressure. There was either a trickle that could not get the shampoo out of your hair or a blast that could put a hole in your head. It was like that Seinfeld episode with the low flow showers causing really flat hair forcing Kramer to install the Commando 450 shower head that was for circus elephants.
The true problem was the floor. It was a daily conversation piece among the women there, the complaints never ended. The tiles were slimy, hair was strewn about, and suspicious black spots covered the walls. It was a veritable host for microbes.
One of the members, a biologist, decided to take samples of the floor back to her lab for analysis to determine what was living there. I tried to stop her to no avail, because I believe that ignorance is bliss. She returned a few days later with a print out of the results. It was filled scary organisms that I cannot pronounce nor spell. Lotrimin would be no match for whatever foot funk someone would acquire. The only solution would be sand blasting the floor and starting over (under new ownership the gym has remedied many of these issues).
As a swimmer, I have showered in dubious places all over the world. There is truly nothing grosser than a shower area during a swim meet. In order to get warm between events, we stood around in the shower, thus they were in use the entire day (a hot tub would have solved a lot of problems and saved a ton of water).
The shower areas were quite untidy. In fact, the locker rooms were a mess. There was never a dry spot on the floor, so you would have to stand perilously on the benches to get dressed. Toilet paper would be strewn everywhere,(inevitably, someone would walk out with a long piece stuck to the bottom of their shoe). And, there were always those annoying showers that turn off automatically after 30 seconds, so you have to keep pushing the button. It really does not save water. You just push the button 20 times.
Having gone to several swim meets recently to watch my niece and nephew compete, I can confirm that the situation has not changed at all. Last year, I went for a run before their meet and needed to shower after. I walked into the locker room and surveyed the scene, appalled by what I saw. It was repulsive. I had no flip flops to protect my tender feet against the organisms calling this place home. I weighed my options and decided no shower was probably cleaner than taking a shower. Just like the olden days, I perched myself on a bench to get dressed.
As I idled in my shower at home, I appreciated the perfect water pressure, the fact that I did not have to wait my turn and my shoeless feet. Too bad I don’t have a towel service here. Oh wait, I do. It’s me.