There’s dozens of unused lockers, yet there’s a padlock right beside yours nearly every time in the gym locker room. What’s the psychology behind this?

Once again, upon returning to the gym’s locker room for a break, I noticed a padlock on the locker right next to my end locker, despite there being literally dozens of other lockers available in consecutive fashion.

It was a pink lock. I went back out to the gym floor to resume my workout; a while later I returned to the locker room to get my belongings.

Lo and behold … there was a NEW lock – a blue one – on that same locker right next to mine! None of the other lockers had locks on them.

I took a picture of the surrounding lockers – to show that I’m not exaggerating when I say that whenever someone takes the locker right next to mine, there are always dozens of available lockers. Check out the images below.

My lock is on the left-most end locker. The one in blue was placed there while I was exercising. Note the many empty lockers. Granted, some of those lockers may have belongings in them, but MOST lockers without a lock are EMPTY.


This is the opposite wall, showing two more rows of unlocked lockers.


This is the other side of the locker room, revealing only one padlock.

There are so many lockers from which to choose whenever this happens – and believe me, it happens all the time. Yet they take the locker smack next to mine.

And it’s not the same woman who just happens to be attached to the second-last locker in that particular row.

I also take end lockers at the end of other rows, at various gyms. The padlocks that show up right next to mine vary in appearance. This really weird phenomenon is being committed by numerous women at different gyms.

You might be supposing that at the time these women select the locker right next to mine, many of the other lockers are in use.

What typically happens is that I’ll take an end locker – but never if the locker next to it is in use. At this time, there are dozens of unused lockers.

I work out for about an hour prior to my break, then come back into the locker room and see a padlock on the locker right next to mine, while all around are dozens of available lockers.

I’m not going to believe that during the hour that I was working out, the locker room was bustling with throngs of women, with every third locker being used, and by the time I take my break, all those women remove their locks and leave the gym. No, it doesn’t happen that way.

Between the time that the pink lock was on and then replaced with the blue lock, the amount of women in the gym remained constant.

There was no sudden influx of dozens and dozens of women who worked out and then removed their locks before I returned to the locker room to see that blue lock.

Taking the locker right next to mine is a recurring phenomenon. My guess is that the woman feels more secure if she takes the locker right next to another used locker.

Perhaps the isolation of taking a locker in the middle of unused ones creates a sense of vulnerability or uncomfortable isolation.

However, by taking the locker right next to mine, she creates the possibility that we will be simultaneously using our lockers, forcing us to be in each other’s personal space. I’d find this VERY awkward.

Not only is it awkward in terms of personal space, but it has the potential to compromise needed space. It also has the potential to spawn a situation in which the other woman expects a social connection – which I do not want to make.

This awkwardness would be more acceptable if the locker room were, indeed, crowded, making it impossible to avoid taking a locker next to someone else’s.

But as already mentioned – and I can’t point this out too much – when someone grabs the locker next to mine, there are always PLENTY of available lockers!

Usually there’s only one other woman in the locker room when I take a break. Often there’s none. There’s tons of free lockers, but there’s almost always a padlock next to mine.

This phenomenon borders on creepy. It’s certainly inconsiderate, at the least. The offender fails to consider that the woman whose locker she’s setting up next to might not be in the mood for socializing (for any number of reasons), and/or may find that performing body care within a stranger’s personal space is very uncomfortable.    

It’s very inconsiderate — pandemic or no pandemic — to take a locker right next to one that’s obviously in use, when there are so many available.

I always think, upon entering the locker room, what are the odds that when I come back for a break, there’ll be a padlock right next to mine?

Can’t Be Explained Away by Chance

This happens far too often to attribute it to a locker room that got crowded only after I put my padlock on and left, then got uncrowded before I returned for my break. Nope. Not buying it.

I choose end lockers whenever possible to guarantee that at least one side of it will be clear.

I just HATE when I have to open my locker when someone is standing inches from me. I hate when their locker door is open past the halfway mark, which means I can’t open my locker to its halfway mark.

I just HATE having to say, “Excuse me” to this total stranger. She should know better than to leave her locker door open past halfway, being that she surely noticed the padlock on the locker next to the one she decided to use.

She should be keen enough to anticipate that its user might need to get into the locker while she’s still using hers. This isn’t rocket science.

Every so often, believe it or not, the woman doesn’t notice me coming. How could you not notice when someone’s coming towards you in a locker room?

Because she’s oblivious, she doesn’t move her door in to give me room. These women fail to anticipate that while they’re at their locker, the woman next to her will come at that same time and need to open her door!

This forces me to make a social connection by saying “Excuse me.” This is very awkward and shouldn’t even have to occur in the first place.

The last time this happened, while I was turning my padlock — she still didn’t pull her door towards herself to give me some room.

You may think that something’s a wee bit off about me if saying “Excuse me” is very awkward.

But let’s look at the other side of the coin here: What’s going on inside the heads of women who, #1) take a locker right next to one, despite the availability of dozens of others, and #2) refuse to give room when the user of the locker next to them approaches it, let alone starts using it?

This doesn’t have to be a lot of room; it need only be pulling her door closer in so that I can open mine halfway!

In the most recent case, her door was way past the halfway mark towards my locker. How does she not think that I’m going to need to open my door?

So I opened my door less than halfway, which bumped hers towards her. I didn’t do it abruptly enough to knock it towards her. It simply moved towards her. She blurted loudly, “EXCUSE ME!” as though shocked that another human being could actually need to get into the locker right next to hers.

I’M the one who should’ve blurted “Excuse me!”

This was not an inexperienced gym locker room user. I’d seen this particular individual numerous times prior. She was also well-past young adulthood, so we can’t blame the “ignorance of youth.” She was simply being straight-up thoughtless.

I completely ignored her, quickly grabbed my things and left, not wanting to prolong the social connection (or shall I say, sour connection). NO connection should have been necessary, because this stranger should not have taken the locker right next to mine in the first place.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



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