(14e) Organisation of the gym

I belong to a chain of gyms and although I enjoy doing some exercises, there are many moments I think about all the other things I could do (such as meeting friends or practising my hobbies) if sport was not a necessity to keep body and mind in good health. But afterwards, in general I feel better and more relaxed unless I exaggerated. Before going to the gym, I eat something small to get some energy, thereby disobeying experts by eating a snack (e.g. snicker or bounty) so I don’t feel exhausted after a short exercise while life is also much too short to not enjoy the joys of life. But I agree, people who want to lose weight can exercise while getting energy from burning fat and thus should not eat something in advance.

Current situation

Recently many gyms were renovated: redesign of the different areas and installation of new equipment so gyms improved, except their changing rooms. In these areas, the gyms changed the system how water from showers is collected but also the entrance to these showers so they are much more open and people taking a shower are more exposed to people in the changing room, although exhibitionists will not mind.

Figure 1: Current situation with holes (green) below the shower and person, two sinks (blue) and three toilets (red). Arrows demonstrates how water can flow towards the holes but also to the corridor between showers and even in changing room.
Today, the water is collected and removed via a small hole in the floor directly under the person and I think that is an inferior method (Figure 1). Indeed, during a shower most water flows towards the hole as thus also the person’s feet while after the shower, some water remains on the floor because not all water disappeared in the small hole and thus people stand in this water while they dry themselves after the shower. In addition, many people don’t like to stand in (dirty) water after someone else’s shower because it may result in fungal feet infections, and thus several of these people remove the remaining water with fungi and bacteria to the middle lane instead of removing it via the small hole because it is the place where they will stand. And thus, although they don’t stand in the water they removed, after the shower they walk through it when they return to the locker area. Indeed, I now understand why women are often not happy when men clean as men sometimes simply move the problem from one place to another. And because of the location and seize of the holes, if many men take a shower, there is sometimes water flooding even outside the shower area towards the changing area and thus a longer distance to walk through (very) dirty water.

Changes to shower area

I think a better situation is a drain between the showers and the corridor and a drain between the shower area and the other areas (Figure 2). In that situation, there is a division between the shower area and the drier region. Also, the drain will be much bigger (longer) and thus will be able to collect more water that was splashed in every direction, certainly when the floor has a small angle so the water is forced to flow towards the drain. Further, if people want to remove the last remaining water under the shower, they will move the water away from the place where they will be standing towards the drain, still not to the corridor so that area remains drier and cleaner. And when the corridor becomes wet or is cleaned, the drain between the corridor and area outside the shower area will prevent water floods in the changing area while the dirty water can easily be removed via that drain without the need to remove it via the holes beneath the showers as in the current situation. Doing so, water is always removed away from the shower while it can’t spread to cleaner areas.

Figure 2: How the locker room could be organised to have a little more privacy. Green bars indicate holes to remove water from the shower area while green arrows indicate how people can walk. A wall even allows more space for toilets and sinks.

Further, although I don’t mind being naked with other men and take a shower together, I find the area has become too open as men in the changing room can see men who urinate or take a shower and thus people may feel exposed. And this while I think that for little money, privacy can increase significantly (as was in the past). As I mentioned, there is no problem when men taking together a shower can see each other, after all they are all naked but it feels awkward if others can watch you. And thus, something as simple as a curtain can separate the shower region from the changing area so having a shower or peeing is a little more private.

Less amateurish than a curtain is a wall, be this a brick wall or one that can be moved. Today, the toilets where men urinate are open and having a wall would allow the separation of men changing their clothes from those having a pee. This same wall can also separate men in the shower from those in the changing area. Further, by having two entrances (and thus exits), men who only need the shower can enter at one end while those who first need to urinate can enter via the other side before going further to the shower. Two open sides thus allow that men, after having taken a shower, can avoid walking through the place where men with shoes have a pee and thus their feet remain cleaner. Of course, a separation needs to be installed to avoid being able to walk from the toilet area through the clean area as there will always be some men who will feel the need to walk with their shoes through the clean area after they urinated. Also, sinks can be attached to this wall so men can wash their hands and face.

Another problem is that the showers can only be turned on or off. But each person prefers another temperature of the water. And thus, a system (a tap or a more advanced system as we’re living in the 21th century) should be present so people can adjust the temperature according to what they like; with the current system, many men at my gym, including me, complain the water is much too hot and thus sometimes I continue to sweat after leaving the gym. But at other gyms the water may be too cold.

Finally, also men want to see the result of their exercises but in many gyms of this chain, the large mirror is removed from the changing area so only small mirrors remain above the sinks. And thus, boys and men need to lift their shirts in the gym area to see the result of their exercises. And the result of exercises is best noticed immediately after the workout.

The myth that still has supporters

People who sport produce internal heart and as a reaction, the body starts to sweat to cool down. A little breeze removes the sweat and helps to decrease the body temperature. In western countries, i.e. those with cold winters, there are still some people who believe that "real" men (and women) sport in cold temperatures without complaining and even claim it is good. And thus, there are some gyms where temperatures are low. But I think this is not good for reasons I will explain.

While exercising the body warms up so the muscles become smoother and thus people are less likely to have injuries. Indeed, before doing sport, people are advised to do warm ups. But some people, the so-called alpha male, claim it is good to exercise in low temperatures. However, look at the reality: most sports (tennis, swimming, athletics (including running), cycling) are done in summer while other sports (volleyball, basketball) are done indoor. Few sports are winter sports such as football when people run short distances as the muscles are too cold to run far while still people gets hurt easily. And often the best athletes come from warm countries such as Bold with few having injuries as in warm countries the muscles are not stiff. However, in colder countries or when the air conditioners cool too much, sportsmen hurt themselves often when they train in the cold as the body cools more than it can warm up. Each time scarf tissues repairs the muscles so they become less flexible. Indeed, training is best done in warm (although not hot) weather although not in direct sunlight as that is another extreme as people can also overheat.

In addition, when the surrounding temperature is low and certainly with a cold breeze as is possible in a gym with air conditioning, this can be dangerous. Indeed, the body hearts and sweat, also at the level of the heart and lungs. When cold air blows on this, the body temperature of that part of the body goes down and people can become ill. Yes, there was a reason why people in the 'good old days' told children not to stand in cold air, even when dry and certainly not when wet or they would catch a cold (evidence-based). One reason is that the body part can cooldown below body temperature but another reason is that certain people catch easily a cold is because certain viruses that cause colds survive in the throat and lung region as they prefer cooler air. And thus, many people sweating in cold drafts have a cold afterwards so, like me, are sometimes out for 2 to 3 weeks.

In conclusion, the changes introduced improved certain parts of the gym but, at least in the men’s changing area, things became worse compared with was before the changes and thus a number of things that were present in the past should be re-introduced.


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