Advice: Uncomfortable Changing In The Locker Room…

I have a rather embarrassing confession to make, and I am looking to you for advice.

I recently committed myself to getting healthy and fit this year, and recently joined an awesome gym. I love this gym, and could not be happier. (Thank you, by the way, for the wonderfully encouraging article you wrote “What Skinny People REALLY Think About Fat People At The Gym“.)

However, I find myself growing very self-conscious in the locker room. I am exceptionally out of shape, and am very embarrassed to change clothes in front of other people. It’s really intimidating being obese and going to the gym, especially in situations where you find yourself getting undressed and dressed in front of people who are much more fit than I am.

I need some advice on how to conquer my fears and anxieties until the time when I am comfortable with my body image.


57157897Dear W,

Thank you for your honest question. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up as an overweight child. And even though your situation is quite different from my own, your question immediately conjured up the same nervousness and anxiety that I felt when changing in public.

Of course, the are plenty of strategies to minimize your nudity. You could change in a bathroom or shower stall. Or you could wrap a towel around yourself. Or even wear your gym clothes under your street clothes. But all of these strategies merely treat the symptoms of a deeper issue.

Though I’m a big fan of building stronger, healthier and more loving relationships with our bodies, the reality is that it’s a journey for all of us. And each of us is at a different stage of comfortabilty. Nothing changes overnight, and there’s no reason to beat yourself up over feelings of shame or embarrassment.

Your time at the gym is a step in healing this relationship with your body. Your body craves movement and exercise, and to spend time at the gym is to give your body what it wants and deserves. In this sense, you’re not exercising because you hate your body. On the contrary, your exercising because you love your body.

I could remind you that changing in the locker room really is nothing more than changing clothes. Or that many of the other people in the locker room – even those that outwardly appear fit – are secretly struggling with their own insecurities. Or that your feelings of discomfort come from you and you alone. Or that humans come in different shapes and sizes – and that most people are too caught up in their own world to pay much attention to other people in the locker room. But the reality is that our body image issues can’t be solved in a soundbite or a single column of advice.

At the end of the day, all of us are at the gym because we have a goal. Goals, by their very definition, are the object of our ambition. They’re something to which we reach, work and strive. It’s not always easy and often times it means pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone. It’s all part of the ride. Just don’t give any of the challenges you face the power to prevent you from creating the life you’ve always wanted. And the life that you deserve.


P.S. In the comments below, share how you’ve dealt with locker room embarrassment.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Thank you for your question W and thanks so much for your response Davey. This is a question and an issue I have dealt with in a very personal way before. Like you, Davey, I was a very active and athletic boy until I hit 13/14 and became very contrived and started struggling with my sexuality. I turned to food, in particular sugars and carbs, for comfort and needless to say, the pounds started adding up. Fast forward to January of 2010 when, at 29 years old and 250 lbs., a horrible lower back pain prevented me from getting up from my bed for a week. That was my wake up moment, I became really scared that I would spend the rest of my life in a bed so I decided to get healthy and fit. The problem is, I didn’t want to go to the gym cause I wasn’t ‘fit enough’ to go to the gym and how the F*CK could I get fit if I didn’t go to the gym? I finally bit the bullet and joined a local gym. At first, I would go late at night when nobody could see me, I started getting used to the machines and getting to know them. I would never change or shower at the gym, I was too embarrassed, so I changed and showered at home. Then I discovered group training sessions and classes. Some of them (because of timing) required me to change and shower at the gym so that I could make it to work on time. That’s when I slowly but surely started loosing that fear. I started being very uncomfortable, until I realized, like you say Davey, that even the fittest people in there were too absorbed in their own bodies, goals, and insecurities, to even pay attention to me. This was a fascinating and liberating experience. I have been going to the gym ever since, every morning from Monday to Saturday and I love it. I don’t care what other people think. Oh and I lost all the extra weight. At 5’10” I weighed 170 lbs. in the summer of 2012 and I am up to 185 lbs. with muscle weight today (I can’t believe I have a 31” waist!). Am I self-conscious about my body? Yes, I still am because I have new goals, but I am also proud to wear those scars (in the shape of horrible horrible stretch marks) that represent my struggle, and who cares if anybody there judge me for them (or any other part of my body), I still feel and look awesome. Have a joyful day!

  2. I totally understand your feelings. But as someone who goes to the gym 4-5 times a week and has worked out for over 20 years, I applaud you for trying to do something about your physical self and health. Do you think all the people that you see in the gym looked that way when they first started working out? Its a slow process to get into shape and losing weight. It is not a race. Just try and think that you are doing something good for yourself and concentrate on that and not what you think others may be thinking in the locker room. I applaud who try and keep in shape. The ones I feel sorry for are the ones NOT in the gym. Keep up the good work.

  3. Errol Semple says:

    I worry about getting a hardon.

  4. When I first started working out, I was quite overweight and embarrassed about showering/changing in the locker rooms. It got to a point where I didn’t care what others thought. I’m not there to show the guys anything, it isn’t a modeling show, I’m there to shower and change.

    Go with the mindset of not worrying about what others think. Honestly, they probably don’t even care what you look. THere are more important things in life to worry about.

    You can do it!

  5. Growing up I had this issue in High School and beyond. The locker room is a place where all things are equal, in a sense. You have nothing to define who you are, other then a white towel as all the other guys. When you look around, they are all, well, like us. Skinny, Fat, Dark or light, wanting to be better is the common thread. The body is the temple and as you treat it so your thoughts of embarrassment will transform into being comfortable in your own body. This is the goal and it’s internal. I’ve learned in the Gay world someone will find you “Hot” and not just gym bunnies, so if your working out for you, be naked in the locker room for you. After all, what else is there to stand for?

  6. Go to a Naturist/Nudist park/resort/beach, best thing you can do for yourself to get over body image issues, wish I did it YEARS ago, very liberating!

  7. I like going to the gym but also I am not as fit as I like to be. I see many men at the gym that are in much better shape then I am in. I even have many friends who are in shape and some that have six packs. They just keep telling me to keep up the work and I will get where I need to be. I know I wont ever have a six pack, but I have gradually lost weight and gained muscle tone. I walk into the gym, go to the locker, and loose my fear change my clothes and go about my way.

  8. Kurt Cooper says:

    I think I have less body issues and I did before I started going to the gym… I workout everyday but that’s beside the point.
    As somebody pointed out above there is every kind of body in the gym — the big guy, the small, guy, the young guy, the old guy etc. And I see ’em all naked…

    Once you have seen ’em all… You realize you may look like that someday… Even if you keep exercising… And quite frankly most people are too busy to care what you look like… What they are interested in.. is what’s inside.

  9. I had the same issue. It gets easier the older I get, because quite frankly I have quit caring what others think of me. I went from a high of 280 down to 200 still no 6 pack abs, still have flab and I still think everyone in the locker room is judging me. However, I don’t care anymore. I go to the gym for me and no one else.

  10. Great article!! I was thinking of writing one about this topic because I believe it’s not one really touched often as it should be. I like how you said we are all in a different part of our comfortability and life is a journey! Couldn’t be more correct. Life is all about growing and becoming the strongest version of yourself. When you reach obstacles such as this one, it’s going to test you in stepping out of your comfort zone which is really hard but in my opinion, that is where life starts. Life is safe but boring in the comfort zone. No growth takes place. So with this at hand, (I know it’s a deeper issue but we all have deep issues) you can do two things: crumble or conquer. Don’t let this moment paralyze you and beat you to your knees because it will if you let it. You have to learn to take these battles and progress forward. Life is all about progress and this is a test for you. It’s hard but I was the same way at one time. Just work hard at your goals and other things will fall in place. Great post!

  11. I’m in reasonable shape and I f@$kin hate getting changed at the gym. I have this fear guys still stare even when you’re the size you should be.

  12. ok, I had to stop by here to give my 50cents: I’ve worked out for almost 3 years and I were very skinny. Nowadays I can say I got the body shape the same as the other guys [who never used steroids – because we start to know who used them and who doesnt]. I’d be VERY VERY PROUD to see any fat/skinny old/young guy/woman coming to the gym and starting to move his/her ass with frequency [not the ones who arrived and left in less than 3 months], because he/she lost the fear to look bad among the other ppl at the gym.
    My sincere congratulations to W… and keep calm and workout!

  13. Wayne Fisher says:

    My name is Wayne, and I am the person who sent the original question to Davey. I have to say I am so deeply humbled by all of your responses, and am exceptionally grateful for all of the support and kindness you have all show in your responses. Davey’s response to my email, as well as all of your very supportive comments, have really empowered me, and I am now exceptionally motivated. Thank you all for the support!

    • I think anyone that starts out in less-than-great shape often begins from a place of comparing their overweight self to the bodies of others, usually the bodies we envy and wishing we had, Knowing we don’t match up makes us feel embarrassed and ashamed when we are exposed.
      I used to be just as embarrassed about changing in public as you are – until I learned to accept my body as it was. It is possible to love your body as it is, even as you strive to get a healthier and stronger one. My acceptance came from regular and prolonged nudity at home when I had my own apartment with no roommates. I was nude all of the time without anyone to compare myself to. I soon learned that my body, imperfect as it was, was still relevant and vital and mine. Before long, I was visiting nude and clothing-optional resorts, shocked at my sudden comfort in myself.

      Just remember, thick or thin, tall or short, your body still has value. Good luck!

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  16. Uncomfortable? Trying being big with a small penis. I’m sure I’ve given a few of my fellow members at the gym a smile seeing me walk by on the way to the showers. Then again, I’ve also had some interesting conversations at the gym as well. Just love yourself, everything else will fall into place.