Passive Directives

I belong to a gym. It’s a nice place. There’s not much to complain about. They have a zillion treadmills, offer lots of classes that I never take (but am glad are available), and keep it squeaky clean. There's just one thing. They’re obsessed with signs. It drives me crazy.

To give you an idea, I broke a rule and I snapped a couple of pictures from around the ladies locker room. Don't worry. No one was in there changing at the time.

Here are a few examples...

Now, I don’t disagree with a single thing written on these signs. In fact, I'm so eager to comply that I might be the only member who has read them. I’m a rule follower. I enjoy guidelines that make life better for all of us. For example, I love right on red, no phone calls on planes, and wash your hands before returning to work. All good.

The random, wallpapering effect is my issue. In the locker room alone, there are eight or so unique signs. Some are posted twice or three times. 

The content itself violates a couple of basic rules of, I don’t know, eyesight, adult attention spans, and reading comprehension. The font is tiny and the bulleted lists are long. They’re excessively wordy- not unlike many of my blog posts.

And my biggest issue is that they're 50 shades of the same two rules: Don’t be gross. And, don't overdo it. 

Most of these rules are followed by everyone anyway. The rest aren't followed by anyone, ever. Actual locker room behavior is nearly 100 percent consistent. It's effectively governed by social pressure and basic standards of hygiene. No rules are, in fact, needed.  We could do away with all of this visual clutter.

Here's are some examples.

General locker room rules

General locker room rules

These are the overarching rules. If ever there was a set embodying "arbitrary and capricious," this is it. Actually, I need to take a minute to look up capricious but I'm pretty sure it applies. This gym is located within an office complex. There are rarely children on-site let alone within a two-mile radius of the building. The two top rules about kids just don't apply. Even if there were kids around, the age of four seems a bit random and impossible to enforce.

Regarding towels and trash, there are 35 bins around the room. You can't miss them. Like, you literally cannot miss them. If you happen to drop your towel or trash accidentally it will actually fall into a bin. Gravity is on our side here.

The thing about the health code's age restriction for the sauna seems important. Instead of making this item #4, they could just share this rule with teens when they sign up. The gym manager could then invite them to swing by for a good sweat after going to the DMV to get their license. Win, win.

Everyone ignores the thing about cell phones. Give up.

Feel like swimming or soaking? Just shiver there in your "regular swim wear" for a moment while you read these 19 rules.

Pool and hot tub rules

Pool and hot tub rules

Don't they know that people stop reading lists when they see more than three items? All of those other bullets are wasted.

It's actually fine that you stopped reading because they all say the same thing. In completely random order, there are a few with time and temperature ranges (hope you brought your pocket thermometer!), what to wear, what not to wear, and a burried threat to suspend your membership if you don't comply.

Oh, don't miss the attention-grabbing reference to diarrhea. I have't had my breakfast yet. Thanks.

Bottom-line? Don't be gross and don't be a hero and overdo it. You'll melt or fry or dehydrate into something resembling a dried apricot. Heat exhaustion isn't sexy no matter how "regular" your swimwear might be.

And, oh and this one.  I never see anyone shower before entering the pool. Is management seriously concerned about BO and dry skin cells? Isn't that what chemicals and filters are for?

If this is really a problem, let the lifeguard hose everyone down with his tears of boredom. He's sure not likely to have a big rescue today and is busying himself sorting the lost and found goggles








This one just makes me angry at my fellow members.  If you're paying the monthly dues for this gym, spend the money and have someone else put dye in your hair. Seriously.

And to the gym manager...this obviously happened once and got all over the place- the sink, shower, whirlpool, and sauna!? How awful. It was clearly so scarring that you had to right to work and make another sign.  I get it. Surely it was an inconvenient mess but why punish the rest of us with this nonsense?






I'll stop my little rant here. With all of these signs, the message I'm getting is that gym management wants order without confrontation. These are passive directives and totally not necessary. Sure, it could be awkward to tell someone in a towel with an gaping, open wound to skip the whirlpool that day. But, you gotta do it. Leave the rest of us alone to sweat in peace.