You try to figure out your game plan, but it's more complicated than one of those adult puzzles with 500 tiny pieces. You cant even see the benches, because theyre stacked with massive duffle bags and everything you would find in one-clothes, tech, and even dirty gym shoes. The floor is gnarly, covered in wet towels and even a pair of used underwear that seems to have lost its way like Nemo in a sea of terry cloth.
Other gym goers try to work around it, bending their bodies in origami-like shapes or seeking refuge by the sinks. As you ponder what to do, you realize most of the gear isnt from an army of gym junkies; its a handful of guys just putting their sh*t everywhere without a care.
This is Gear Spreading.
The gym locker room is not your personal bathroom, but those that gear spread seem to forget this. If youre taking more space than the perimeter of your locker, is that fair to your neighbors? If your dirty gear takes a prime spot on the bench, are you going to wipe it down with sanitary wipes for others that would like to take a seat? Where is the love, yall? If youre at the gym and kicking ass with a great workout, walking into a locker room gear spreading situation is the biggest buzz kill.
The Men's Health team recently tried to wrap our heads around the confusing and infuriating issue of gear spreading.
It is truly the HEIGHT of rudeness to take up anything more than half the bench, said Deputy Digital Editor Jordyn Taylor.
You should only take up the amount of space that your person takes up, said Associate Fitness Editor Brett Williams. So like, if you sit down on a bench, move your gear to the floor.
Listen, one could argue that everyone has their own reason for gear spreading, but if youve had a gym membership for more than six months and visited the space at different times throughout the day, youve probably seen every variation of gear spreading. But if we had to trace the origin of the epidemic, it would lead back to these five types of gear spreaders.
Meet the 5 Gear Spreaders Youll Face in the Gym Locker Room
The is the worst gear spreader of them all. This gear spreader is that larger-than-life loud mouth guy at the gym that has everyone eye rolling, sometimes small in stature, trying too hard to exert a hypermasculine facade and dominating the bench space in the process. Men's Health Executive Editor Ben Court compared this behavior to the Silver Back gorilla, establishing his turf, but some could say hes just an insecure bro trying to find some acceptance among the buff set. After hes done interrupting your workout asking how much you bench, trying to brag to on-duty trainers, and generally striking up any conversation to avoid putting in the work, he hits the locker room to test the limits of gear spreading. Be careful with this one, because its just not worth the battle.
Truthfully, beyond the five types of gear spreading guys we pointed out, weve all had our moments when we accidentally spread out of bounds. It happens and it doesnt make you a terrible person. It just means youre being messy.
How to Confront a Gear Spreader
Theres no right answer to this. The best thing you can do is check yourself for gear spreading and set the example for others to follow.
I may be a closet gear spreader, admitted Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel. Ive never confronted one, because I am one. But I am conscious of it and I make a point to try to move stuff when it might be in peoples way.
I think people are generally aware of their own messiness, adds Editorial Assistant Josh St. Clair. The best strategy is just to not make a big deal out of it and they wont get defensive [when you confront them].
If we all make the effort to keep our gear to our locker space, theres nothing to confront and harmony prevails in the locker room. Peace at last, my friends, peace at last.