The etiquette of getting naked with colleagues

I’ve often wondered how people with workplace gyms cope with seeing their colleagues at inopportune moments – sweaty on a treadmill, doing an inelegant stretch, mid-change of clothes, in the sauna, in the shower…depending on your colleagues (and your own appearance), it can’t be a good thing.

[Incidentally, nor is running into colleagues in your pyjamas. At this year’s Greenbelt I was emerging from my tent first thing in the morning – in pj’s & bedhair – when a voice said “Liz! George thought it was you and it is!” and I discovered two colleagues were camped in adjacent tents. I had to watch my tongue and my outfits for the rest of the weekend.]

This morning I appeared almost naked in front of a colleague – but it’s ok because…
(i) I had a swimsuit on
(ii) It was a colleague who isn’t likely to get lecherous

Swimming with people is a risky business as it’s quite literally frightfully exposing. It’s not something to be done with male friends you’re remotely attracted to and even hanging out in a sauna with a good female friend is a little daunting.

Staying at a hotel with a pool last night, the plan this morning was to have a swim before breakfast and a vague time was arranged. In a fit self-consciousness, I decided to make my way down early so that I’d already be in the water when colleague arrived. Thankfully, colleague seriously overslept and I was in the jacuzzi after completing my 40 lengths by the time he appeared. I’m pretty sure he was then more interested in his own swim than the sight of me walking from jacuzzi to sauna to steam room and back to the jacuzzi again.

Occasionally I complain that my office didn’t install a gym/pool/hot-tub when it had a major refurbishment two years ago. Then I remember moments like today’s and realise that really, my colleagues are the last people I want to be sharing a changing room with. Sometimes perfect strangers are just, well, perfect.

Postscript on Saturday morning:
Last night’s accommodation was in an old university college in the north of England. Quaint rooms but no en suite facilities. Somehow I hadn’t fully realised this when packing and therefore didn’t have my most communal bathroom friendly PJs with me. Even worse, my neighbours weren’t office colleagues, they were a collection of national ‘experts’ (in a field that I’m definitely not an expert in).

I figured I could possibly make it to the shower and back without being spotted, but failed on both counts – jumping spectacularly when I opened the shower door to leave and bumped into one of my fellow delegates (she was in slightly more respectable PJs, I just had a towel on…plus she was at least someone I’d been drinking with the night before). Next time, I’m bringing a dressing gown.

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