5 Steps to Improving Body Image & Overcoming Locker Room Phobia

New to the gym and afraid of the shared locker room? Check out these 5 tips to help with overcoming locker room phobia and improving your body image.

No matter where you are in your experience there’s one major hurdle everyone must deal with…the locker room!

Yes, you read correctly!

I have run into people both fit and overweight, young and old, gay and straight, who have had discomfort changing or showering in a locker room.

I know because I had the same struggle! I would even jump in the car right after an intense workout and drive home to shower.

Can you imagine what that car smelled like? It was gross!

The Underlying Issue Was Body Image…

“Why is a room so intimidating?”

Well, most people – myself included – don’t have a healthy body image or even appreciation for the progress they have made. The good news is most of you can overcome this on your own.

Related: A Complete Guide to Finding a Workout Partner

I feared the locker room the first year of my fitness journey. Until I discovered the benefits of facing my fears.

  1. My car smelled better.
  2. I could get in good workouts before work.
  3. My improved self-image helped me elsewhere.

I let go of my fears and finally enjoyed the beach, water parks, pool parties, and summer concerts.

Confronting my body image issues gave me my life back!

5 Steps to Break Through Locker Room Fears

5 Steps to Curing Locker Room Phobia

1. Find Your Zone

You feel comfortable at home, in your car, at work, and any place that feels familiar. Because you know what to expect, you know who will be there, and how to navigate your space.

The locker room is the same way, you need to find “Your Zone” like you would at your work desk, your bedroom, or car.

I chose a far corner of the locker room where I could feel some privacy and have my own space.

Just don’t crowd others.

2. The Gross Stall

Let’s face it, bathroom stalls are not always going to be available or clean for your quick change.

What's in Stall #1?

I’m sure you can imagine what I found in the bathroom stall during peak gym hours. The second stall was occupied.

I’m sure you’ve run into this mystery stall conundrum before.

It gets exhausting. It wastes time and cuts into your training time. I’m sure you’re busy outside of the gym; unless you’re one of those people who gets paid to workout. Save the time, and just change out. Just go for it!

No one is looking because everyone else is changing and going about their day too.

Storytime: It’s a cool spring morning, I had a great chest workout and cardio session. I’ve just finished a refreshingly hot shower. I’m thirsty. I know I have this cool half gallon water jug with Lemonade BCAAs and REAL LEMON WEDGES in my locker. I went all out that morning. I’m hurrying from the shower to the locker, so I can get a swig.

Related: Should I Add BCAAs to My Supplement Stack?

As soon as I open the locker I hear a thud, splash, and saw a puddle forming. The bottle cracked! Water poured everywhere, and I needed to get this to a trash stat. So, I grab the bottle with both hands and run back across the locker room. Still in my towel. I am now losing the towel on my way to the trash.

I start to huddle to pin the towel with my elbow and I’m now hunched over! Picture a 6’4” guy scrambling to the trash. I looked like Golem scrambling for the ring.

Moral of the story: Just let the towel fall and toss the bottle. No one cares if you’re naked. It’s not worth the struggle and I’m alive from being seen naked. It’s not the end of the world.

Also, I should have played football with the way I was weaving around guys getting to that trash can.

Just jump in and do it, no one cares, it’s not that major.

3. Mind Your Eyes

Here comes a pro tip to avoid some awkward moments.

When people are uncomfortable they tend not to make eye contact. They either look down or look at other things.

Here’s how both scenarios play out:

  1. Eyes on the ground: You’re getting an eye full of junk! Enjoy the visual.
  2. Eye’s starring off into space: You’re running into someone while trying to change your clothes or shower. It will be awkward.

Be aware of your surroundings for your own safety and others.  It’s also gym etiquette to make eye contact.

Just make sure you don’t linger too long so no one gets weirded out.

Athlete Respecting His Gains

4. Respect the Gains

Let’s take five from the mechanics of navigating the locker room. Let’s look at the mental game.

Everyone is in the gym to improve themselves correct? Correct.

You’re not in the gym to judge others correct? Correct.

The same goes for the locker room. People are there for the same reason you are; to change, shower, and go about their day. Everyone is just as nervous as you.

The locker room has a certain vulnerability you don’t find anywhere else. Vulnerability in this setting can be remedied with respect for one another’s space. Everyone is here to make “gains”. Respect others gains, and I assure you, they’ll respect yours.

Nine times out of ten, your worries about other’s judgment are your own insecurities manifesting themselves. Which means you need to respect your body and gains too.

5. Don’t Get Weird

Finally, you have the confidence needed to change in the locker room. You even take time to hang out and watch the game on the tv inside. It feels like a lounge to hang out and chat with the guys.

But don’t get weird. There are some things you’ll want to avoid.

  1. Don’t linger next to someone who is changing. If you’re done get out.
  2. Don’t hang around naked. Yes, be confident in your body, but no one wants to see a naked dude sitting around killing time.
  3. Don’t chit-chat naked.

Over Coming Your Fear Leads to Confidence

After training in the gym for a year, I started getting a lot of compliments. Even my DM’s were slipped into.

But that didn’t matter because I couldn’t see my progress.

I was coming from a place of fear and disrespecting my gains by looking down on my body. My mind was transferring my judgments of myself to others. I self-sabotaged my motivation for training. This translated into my interactions in the gym and locker room. I missed out on friends who could inspire me to break new PR’s. I came across as a gym jerk because I wouldn’t talk to anyone.

I was none of those things, but my insecurities made it seem that way.

Things did not get better until I appreciated myself and gained some confidence.

If you take anything away from this article take this…

You need to learn to appreciate your body. The locker room is just a ‘room’ it can’t hurt you. Secondly, you’re just as intimidating to everyone else in the locker room as they are to you. Third, you only get one life, so don’t live it in fear of your own self. You can be your worst enemy or best friend when it comes to achieving your goals.

Your body is YOUR BODY... don't run from it!