I'm male, and I often work out at around the time where the staff at my gym is cleaning the showers. They aren't doing it at a specific time, so I can't plan my way out of it.

When it's female staff cleaning, I have to wait for them to be done with the whole locker room.

When it's male staff I just have to wait for them to be done with the showers (there are only 4 showers, in a small space).

Last time there was a guy cleaning the showers thoroughly, so I went on the treadmill while I waited for him to leave the locker room. So I didn't have to walk in and out to keep checking if he was done with the showers.

But when I went in 20 minutes later it seemed like he had been done for a long time.

This is a pretty small problem, but I would still like to hear any suggestions on how to ask them: How long it will take before I can use the showers?

Because I think if I ask them like that, they'll take it as i'm trying to rush them.

6 Answers 6


It depends highly on your body language and intonation on how they'll interpret your question. If you (mayby unconciously) show you're slightly annoyed that they're there and dryly ask "How long till I can use the showers" ofcourse they're not gonne be too happy about it.

On the other hand if you start of with a smile and generally "open" body language and phrase it something like:

"Hey guys/ladies, sorry to interrupt. Can you give me a rough estimate on when you're done here so I can take a shower?"

I doubt anyone would take it badly. If anything they might stop slacking off because you've given them a good reason to rush a bit. (i.e: so that the nice guy can take his shower).

Depending on their answer you can end the conversation with either

Alright thanks! I'll wait for a bit so you can finish up. *starts walking out* really apreciate the work.

or if they mention it'll take a while you can go with something like:

Thanks for letting me know. ( / Don't worry about it!). I'll take another spin on the threadmill so you guys got time to finish up.


Thinking about the problem you would see in simply asking them, I only can imagine you don't want to put pressure on them doing their work. Right?

In this case it helps to change the question's subject from them to you. That means
"oh you are cleaning the showers, when will you be finished?" becomes
"oh you are cleaning the showers, when should I come back again?".

Add "oh great, there is a freshly cleaned shower for me" if you like. (But don't exaggerate if you want to keep being credible)

  • 1
    "when should I come back" is a great way to emphasize that you are not rushing them.
    – arp
    May 8, 2020 at 20:27

You can make it clear you are just trying to get information by saying something like "I'm trying to decide how long to make my workout. When do you think the showers will be available?".

That way, it's clear that you aren't trying to rush them, you aren't demanding an exact time, you're just getting information so you can figure out your workout.


Just a simple:

Hey there, can you please notify me once you are done with the showers? No rush, I´ll be on the treadmill in the meantime.

Should do the trick. They will either tell you that it´s only another minute or so or you´ll be notified.

Edit as per @Noon´s request: This answer reflects my personal experience in Germany. Staff of a fitness studio is paid off your membership-fees so they are usually very service-oriented. In my experience your request is reasonable and should be happily fulfilled.

  • 1
    Hey, could you tell us why this won't be perceived as the OP trying to rush them? Also, do you have personal experience where you successfully use this technic before?
    – Ael
    Nov 21, 2018 at 15:07
  • Also, how is your response different from the one of DaveG?
    – Ael
    Nov 21, 2018 at 15:09
  • 3
    @Noon it is different from DAveG as he asks for a completion time, this asks them to come to you on the treadmill whenever they are finished no estimate required.
    – WendyG
    Nov 21, 2018 at 15:35
  • 1
    @Noon I expect the phrase "no rush" would give them a clue you aren't trying to rush them, and the fact you are doing more exercise to fill the time
    – WendyG
    Nov 21, 2018 at 15:35

While the other answers are a good approach if you want to talk to the cleaning staff directly, I'd like to offer a different alternative:

Talk to management.

The conflict you are experiencing - you want to shower, the cleaning staff want to clean - is really neither party's fault. If talking to the staff resolves your problem, then great. However, it may not - maybe you find the wait to be unacceptably long, or maybe the staff cannot tell you how long it will take, because multiple persons are involved, with no one knowing how long the rest will take.

In that case, the problem is really that management schedules cleaning of the facilities to conflict with patrons' use of them. Then you are justified in speaking to management, and to ask them to make sure that the facilities are available when you need them. You probably cannot expect the showers to be available every minute of the day, but if the showers are "blocked" for, say, an hour or more, I'd consider that unreasonable, as that means many people will not have time to wait and will be effectively blocked from using the showers.

So, if you cannot find a solution with the cleaning staff directly, go to management, describe the problem, and ask for a solution. Options include:

  • scheduling the cleaning for after hours (or only a quick wipe during the day and thorough cleaning later)
  • keeping one shower open while cleaning the other
  • announcing cleaning times so customers can plan accordingly

I was briefly a member of a 24-hour fitness chain in California; because of my work schedule I often ended up wanting to use the female locker room while a male staff member was cleaning it, and in fact that was a big part of why I didn't renew my membership. (So perhaps I'm not the best source for successful resolution advice.)

The one time I made a fuss I simply asked at the desk "when will the ladies' locker room be available".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.