As I have mentioned in the past, I spend a certain chunk of my time at the gymnasium. Before entering the business end of the gym, the visitor must navigate reception and then the locker room to change from my cycling gear (probably much lighter on the lycra front than the more fevered imaginings of some readers would suppose) into my work-out kit.
On one rare occasion in the distant past, the male and female changing rooms in the gym I was then using were swapped for a short period of time (due to maintenance). As a result, we mere men were able to survey the palatial surroundings in which the ladies change – while it is dangerous to generalise from a single example, I must admit I continue to imagine that the distaff changing facilities put those of the weaker sex to shame.
However, that was very much the exception and my normal experience is of the male locker room, an experience which has always been shared with my fellow Y-chromosome carriers. One does see some extraordinary sights in the mens’ locker room, but normally I am able to recover from the trauma with only relatively modest psychiatric intervention. I would perhaps suggest to my fellow lads that if your keks were black when new, and are now off-white and more hole than fabric, then perhaps its time to consider replacement? I would cautiously extend the same advice to other articles of clothing – even if it is your favourite T-shirt, sometimes you just have to let it go to the great laundry basket in the sky (assuming it’s been good – otherwise, send it to the fires below).
I have belonged to several gymnasia in my time in Cambridge and the locker rooms of all have exhibited the same slightly mysterious behaviour. There are many scores of lockers, and at the times I tend to visit barely a dozen men in the gymnasium. We could perhaps add another dozen using the pool or showers – but there should be a huge number of free lockers available when I arrive to change. However, I often struggle to find a single free locker – though I must admit that I do spurn the floor-level lockers as I am now of an age where I try and avoid unnecessary bending down. Who is using the all the lockers? Have people confused the gym with Big Yellow Storage? What is a Big Yellow and why does it need storing? Or do the apparently used lockers conceal entrances to Narnia or other fairy-tale realms? The gym claims it empties the lockers every night, so are the denizens of Cambridge getting up at the crack of dawn to store something in the lockers during the day and then retrieving it every evening? What could it possibly be? I know I’m intrigued.
The other thing which often puzzles me is the clothing people choose to wear in the gym. I find that a work-out is quite warming and so tend to wear a vest and shorts – and even then, I tend to get rather too hot on most occasions but modesty forbids any further reduction in my habilement. However, I have seen others wearing thick, fleecy tracksuit bottoms and matching top and even a woolly hat whilst training. How do they cope? I know my years in the north-east may have thickened my blood, but how thin would your blood have to be – or dilatory your workout – to need clothing that warm in a well- (to my taste, over-) heated gym? Still, I suppose I prefer those needlessly warmly covered up to those choosing to wear little more than a Y-shaped piece of string over their torso coupled with shorts that could only be described as minuscule – and I’m just talking about the fellas. For my money, almost everyone looks better covered up (even those generally accepted to be beautiful) and in most cases, the more that’s covered the better. I like to think this is one cover-up we can all agree on!