It’s Fun to Stay at the YMCA…Sometimes

Over the past several weeks, I have been noticing some things that bother me about the YMCA. It has nothing to do with the facilities. It has nothing to do with the programing. In fact, I greatly enjoy the offerings of our local YMCA. I mainly go to the downtown “Y” because I like having the option to hop in the pool and do a few laps.

But, today, I was once again reminded of one thing that always strikes me as odd. That “one thing” centers on the language used in the men’s locker room. I’ve been around locker room humor and language for a long time. When you’re in high school and college, you kind of expect a certain amount of inappropriate topics of conversation and crude language. And, let’s be honest, I’m known to let a number of profanities slip out of my mouth. But, when I’m at the Y, I feel like things should be a little different.

The YMCA website says its mission is: “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

When I am at the Y, I believe that the healthy body part can be attained. However, I’ve been struggling with whether or not a healthy spirit and mind is being developed during my visits…

For example, today, the language in the men’s locker room contained enough profanities that even I began to blush. The topic of the conversation was extremely degrading towards women. I did not participate in the conversation. All of these guys know what I do for a living. Generally, when they see me, they tend to clean things up a bit. But, still, it’s going on and it makes me sad. The locker room should really be more than a gathering place for a bunch of perverted old men. I just continually wonder why people join the Y, a Christian organization, if they simply want to use the place like it’s the local gentlemen’s club.

Not only that, when I went down to work out, the Jerry Springer show was on one television, some trashy soap opera on another, and Fox News (this may be the most offensive of the three) on the other.

Building a healthy body? Check! I had a great workout today. Building a healthy mind and spirit? Well, yes. But, not at the Y.

In the end, what I realized today is that I simply need to take a stand. If I come into the workout room and there is trash on the televisions, I should speak to the staff and ask them to consider changing the channel. After all, there is a sign next to the television sets that says the staff reserves the rights to change the channel from any program that does not reflect the mission of the YMCA.

And, when they guys are going beyond friendly banter and getting into inappropriate and vulgar conversations, I simply need to step up and say, “Hey guys, this is a Christian gym. I didn’t sign up for a membership here to be surrounded by the kind of conversation that isn’t even suitable for the Howard Stern show.”

But, today, I simply responded by putting my headphones in, cranking up the volume, and ignoring my surroundings. I missed an opportunity to take a stand. But, something tells me there will be other opportunities in the near future.

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