the nudity factor

Upon arriving at my gym, energetic and feeling wonderful about myself as I am about to exercise and thus become very healthy, my first concern turns to how I will avoid getting more-naked-than-I'd-like-to-be in the locker room. When I was younger and went to sleep-away camp, I remember counselors telling us not to worry about being naked in the shower, the cabins. "The more you try to hide yourself the more people will try to look!" they'd say. True, for teetering wildly in the corner of the room with one arm through a t-shirt and the other carefully covering both barely-there breasts did, indeed, invite attention.

Now, safely through those harsh adolescent years, I've learned to love my body as all should. Sure, there are things I think about changing, times when I'd like to shed a few pounds, but I'm certainly not ashamed.

Nor am I bashful in the right situations. Nudity has never been an absolute no-no for me. Skinnydipping with friends in the right situations is absolutely delightful.

But still, I just cannot bring myself to bare it all in the locker room.

For some, I'm beginning to think this activity rivals the actual exercising in terms of importance. I'm not kidding.

Just recently, I emerged from the bathroom area, dressed and ready to go, to discover a 50-something woman standing in front of the full-length mirror with high heels on doing her make up. Just high heels.

I quickly turned away, mouth agape. Did she want me to adore her ample breasts? Her bare behind?

I know one is supposed to feel completely comfortable in the locker room. We are all ladies and we are all there to get more in touch with our bodies through the various realms of "getting in shape" so why not get a little naked beforehand? No one is looking.

I beg to differ. I am looking. And not on purpose, either, I just can't help it.

Some wave their hair freely under the hand dryer, bending over to get it just right, as they gab away with friends - bare ass naked.

Some traipse around gleefully, their shirt just covering the fact that they've got nothing on underneath; others wear a towel carefully draped to protect people from seeing their bottom half, their top half swinging before my eyes.

It's an interesting situation, and one I have started to grow used to. For the most part, these brave women are older than me, and I do think that has something to do with it. Naked? In front of strangers? Who cares? They've lived longer than me, and I'm guessing their knowledge in that department is far greater than mine.

I have progressed to the point where I can take my shirt off without looking around wildly to see who's nearby. I can stand, calmly, while I remove one bra and put on the other, because trying to create a intricate method of doing both at the same time just made me look pathetic.

Depsite the fact that I am so shocked by the variety of nudity I see when I go to my gym, I must admit that I respect it as well - I respect them. Perhaps before I move away, or end my membership I, too, will join their ranks.

As I walk, naked, from the sink to the mirror to my locker, I will proudly glance at my naked companions, silently gaining their approval.

For the time being, I'm pleased with my slow progression. I will remain banked in wondrous disbelief at the bravery allowed and practiced behind closed doors in the locker room.