The SparkPeople Blog

5 Things No One Ever Tells You about Working Out

By: , – Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
1/7/2013 6:00 AM   :  81 comments   :  107,020 Views

Exercising isn’t always pretty—the sweat, the matted down hair, the locker rooms—but it’s definitely worthwhile! Whether you are just starting out or returning after a long break, there are a few things no one ever really tells you about exercise. Even you regular gym bunnies might learn a thing or two from this list—oh how I wish someone had told me these when I started working out!
 
When you can expect them, and know what to do about them, you'll have fewer barriers and hiccups along your exercise journey.
 
You are going to need a good laundry strategy.
Exercise means working up a good sweat, which is great for your body and mind (and according to some, your skin).  This means you’ll end up with some pretty dirty laundry, too. You may find that the laundry routine you are accustomed to just doesn’t cut it for your sweaty duds. Here are a couple of laundry tips that have saved me—and my often expensive technical workout duds—over the years:
  • Don’t toss sweaty, wet clothes into the hamper till your next wash. Bunched up, balled up wet clothes is a recipe for mildew (in addition to the bacteria already in the wet clothes from your skin). If you just can’t wash them right away (and really, who wants to do laundry that often!), lay clothes out over the tub or on a drying rack to dry out before throwing them in the hamper.
  • Pre-soak in a vinegar solution. Soak seriously soiled, stinky items in vinegar (use one part vinegar, three parts warm or hot water) for about 15-30 minutes before washing.
  • Banish odors with baking soda. I find that my skin gets irritated if I use special soap or even heavy duty "performance" detergents, but one of the best (and least expensive) odor removers I’ve found is baking soda! Depending on the size of your load, add up to 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash, and use the hottest water your fabrics can withstand (see next tip below).
  • Read the care label. Different sweat-wicking and performance fabrics require different care; some can’t be washed in hot water, others can't be bleached and some shouldn't be tossed in the dryer. (As a general note, liquid fabric softener is generally a no-no on all performance fabrics.) So be sure to follow the instructions on your favorite outfit to extend its lifespan. I recommend hang drying, too. It'll extend the life of your pricey workout clothes, especially those that have any bit of "stretch" to the fabric.
  • Learn more: How to Shop for Workout Clothes without Going Broke
Bounce happens.
It’s happened to almost everyone at some point: you are exercising, moving and grooving, and well, things start bouncing around. It's awkward. It's uncomfortable. And it’s normal. While it’s OK that certain things bounce a bit as you move your body, there are certain parts that you want to support during bouncing to avoid discomfort.
 
That’s why it’s really important to find the right sports bra and some exercisers may find that wearing compression clothing helps reduce some wiggling and jiggling. Men who normally wear boxers may even prefer a tighter boxer brief or even tighter "tighty whities" during exercise as well. The bottom line is that you want to support the parts that need it, but don’t feel embarrassed or self-conscious if you notice this during your workouts. It happens to everyone!

There’s chafing.
Regular workouts can offer a ton of positive side effects (like weight loss, increased energy, stamina, and stronger muscles), but chafing isn’t one of them! Chafing, even blisters, can occur because of friction caused by either body parts (like the inner thighs or underside of arms) or clothing rubbing against your skin during repetitive movements. Although chafing can be common in endurance sports, it can happen in a short workout, too.
 
Wearing the right exercise clothing for your workout can help. Sometimes loose shorts can cause chafing, for instance, during walking or jogging but a tighter fitted bottom does the trick. You can also use anti-chafing cream or gel (you'll find it at running stores, sporting goods stores and drug stores).
 
Your weight may fluctuate because of your workout.
Did you know that your "scale weight" can go up or down by as much as 10 pounds each day simply because of the amount of fluid in your body? While using the scale can be a good way to measure your weight-loss progress, don’t get too excited (or scared!) if you see a major jump in either direction after a workout. Try weighing yourself at the same time each day (or week), and preferably before your workout for a more accurate number. And remember, this "scale weight" is not your true weight. It doesn't mean you've suddenly incinerated 5 pounds of fat because you worked so hard. The loss is mostly due to fluids and will come right back on as soon as you rehydrate—and that's a good thing.
 
Similarly, many people experience a sudden increase in their scale weight then they adopt a new exercise plan. This causes many exercisers to freak out that they are gaining weight. But often this "gain" is also a temporary, fluid-related change in weight. Learn more about how exercise can cause temporary weight gain.
 
There’s a learning curve for everyone.
It may come as a shock to hear this, but no one is born with the innate knowledge of how to program a treadmill, use the leg press machine, zoom through Zumba class without missing a beat, or swing a kettlebell in perfect form. Those folks at the gym executing those snatches and cleans with grace and skill weren’t born had to learn those techniques first. Just like you.

Don’t let a lack of knowledge or fear of embarrassment intimidate you. Know that everyone at some point had a "first workout" and probably also struggled to learn a new technique or style. But they kept at it. They learned and asked questions and even messed up along the way. At the beginning of my fitness journey, I could only do 10 minutes of cardio at a time without wanting to die! We've all been there. No one is judging you. In fact, many would be happy to share the tips and knowledge they gained if you'd only ask.
 

Knowledge is power! Don’t let any of these things keep you from wanting to workout. Just keep them in mind as you start (or continue) exercising to help make your journey a little easier.
 
Share YOUR knowledge! What do you wish you had known about working out when you first got started? Tell us in the comments below.



About the Author
Jessica Smith is co-author of the Thin in 10 Weight Loss Plan (Sunrise River Press, 2012), and a certified wellcoach, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Having started her own fitness journey more than 40 pounds ago, Jessica knows how challenging it can be to lose weight (and keep it off). Recently named one of Sharecare's Top 10 Online Influencers, she loves finding and sharing the latest info on weight loss, fitness, and healthy lifestyle habits. The star of several best-selling exercise DVDs, Jessica has over 13 years of experience in the industry, and holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from Fordham University.


Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   The 11 Worst Foods of the Year

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • 31
    Great information - I had an entire drawer stink from the odors left in the clothes I worked in - heavy outdoors work in hot sun - not work-out, per say. Will remember this advice for all of our working & work-out clothing. - 1/9/2013   11:44:15 AM
  • CHEMIST3412
    30
    Great tips, especially for how to launder workout items! I'm going to have to try that! - 1/8/2013   7:10:43 PM
  • 29
    Very helpful info for this "Day One" start-up person! Laundry won't be such an issue for a mom of now-grown boys, but much of the other info was new to me. Especially the weight-change info! Thanks. - Maryjean - 1/8/2013   3:23:41 PM
  • VANANDEL
    28
    Another chafing tip, especially for men. I have a friend who runs a lot. Because of salty sweat buildup, he has had his nipples get so chafed, they are bled. Now when he has a big run, he puts bandaids over his nipples and that prevents the problem. - 1/8/2013   12:17:45 PM
  • WHIPPETWALKER
    27
    I am alergic to all detergents so I use 1 cup of white vinigar in the rinse cycle. That gets all the HE detergent out of my clothes and no smell of sweat is left. This works well for all kinds of disgusting stuff- vet teck scrubs!!! - 1/8/2013   11:38:44 AM
  • 26
    Great article! - 1/8/2013   11:13:12 AM
  • NLYR20
    25
    Great tips. Really nice to get to know. - 1/8/2013   10:51:17 AM
  • 24
    For men, a swipe of deodorant over the nipple before a long workout really does work to stop chafing and soreness. - 1/8/2013   7:33:10 AM
  • 23
    i find that were two layers of skin meet (inner thighs and under breasts, stomach) my skin is much darker than the rest of my body. - 1/8/2013   6:00:45 AM
  • PRUSSIANETTE
    22
    Great tips. Some of us don't sweat much, though, which presents its own problems. The only other way the body has of naturally cooling itself is to bring the blood to the surface of the skin. I work out and people think I am dying, or in summer, that I have a sunburn.

    If there were any tips for people who have this problem, I would definitely appreciate. - 1/7/2013   11:29:40 PM
  • 21
    I just have memories of karatedo three times a week and taking my sweat drenched tunic off and having it weigh at least an extra 10 lbs easily due to sweat. - 1/7/2013   8:48:19 PM
  • 20
    Every type of workout has special "tips" that will make you more comfortable and at ease.

    When I practice "power" yoga, I find that I need a top that is long enough so that doing inversions (shoulder stand / headstand) doesn't make me nervous about losing my clothing. When I practice "free style", vinyasa yoga, wearing capri length bottoms works best for me. My clothing gear is not expensive -- I just had to get more details about the length of the tops, and how much support was in the tops. This improved my confidence level, and allowed me to focus more on the practice than how my clothing was fitting. - 1/7/2013   8:14:45 PM
  • 19
    The workout fact I wish more people really understood:

    You are not the person on the next treadmill over.

    In other words, when you're new, you're probably not going to jump on and be at a 10% incline running 9 mph. Find your pace, the one that makes you work hard, but not one that will exhaust you too quickly or injure you. You can make that pace a long-term goal, but you will have to put in the time and effort to get there - time and effort that person already has paid in. - 1/7/2013   6:16:04 PM
  • 18
    Great information! I find that washing my clothes really did take a new book of lessons on how to clean. I like to place my clothes directly into the washing machine. I wash everything in cold water, use arm and hammer detergent (dry) and then line dry everything. It works perfectly! - 1/7/2013   5:06:33 PM
  • 17
    Just wanted to say: I love Jessica Smith! - 1/7/2013   3:00:08 PM
  • 16
    Stinky clothes - wash as above and if not confident that the odor is gone air dry only - putting the item in the dryer will "set" the odor. - 1/7/2013   2:36:06 PM
  • 15
    I followed Jack LaLanne from the time I was young, so he always had a lot of information on his TV Show. He was the Godfather of Fitness. - 1/7/2013   1:25:01 PM
  • 14
    Additional note to swimmers: invest in the chlorine-resistant polyester swimsuits. That initial 25-50% increase in cost will pay back in spades when it lasts literally years longer than the lycra ones that are shapeless within three months (yes, even the "extra-life lycra").

    I also recently invested in a good pair of goggles for a whole $25 and wish I had done so years ago. The usual swimming headache is gone and I have much better sight in the pool.
    - 1/7/2013   12:35:14 PM
  • 13
    Sometimes its worth it to just rinse off the night before to be sure that we smell fresh for the workout. Also: Use a small hair clip to keep your earbud wire from getting tangled. Wear chapstick when going outside. Brush your teeth first, nothing worse than sucking in 'night breath'. Carry a kleenex, 1/2 a granola bar (don't want to pass out from low blood sugar), some water, and your cel ph. - 1/7/2013   12:10:23 PM
  • 12
    I've used fabric softener on my workout clothes for years, and I haven't had a problem yet. I do only line dry the special fabrics. Swimmers: Invest in a pair of splash (pool) shoes to wear in the locker room, shower, and poolside. It will save you the heartbreak of athlete's foot. My policy is to never let my bare feet touch anything but the bottom of the pool. Ear plugs. I only recently purchased a rubber set of ear plugs. I had always used the wax kind that you roll in a ball and stick in your ear. The rubber ones are SO much better. They keep the water out, and I think they are a lot cleaner. - 1/7/2013   12:09:44 PM
  • 11
    Great tips !
    Didn't know I should weigh in "before" working out in the morning to get an accurate number on the scale. Everyone was a newbie at a certain workout in the beginning. Like for example at Zumba, at first I had to learn the steps to each song in that hour workout and I learned to get used to the change in moves at the change of the beat in the music. As you keep at it, eventually it will become second nature. - 1/7/2013   11:50:48 AM
  • 10
    I joined a womans gym a few years ago.I went there all the time.The owner that showed us how to use everything did`nt say anything about stretching after a workout.
    I did`nt know since I was new to lifting weights and using machines.I am now left with bulky muscles.I now know that stretching is very important.
    And working both sides of the body front and back is very important. - 1/7/2013   11:20:16 AM
  • 9
    I would add: Get a good pair of shoes that you use only for working out. Those old sneakers from the back of your closet really won't do. - 1/7/2013   11:14:33 AM
  • CEECEE530
    8
    I never knew about the temporary weight gain. It was great information. - 1/7/2013   11:07:27 AM
  • 7
    Other than my underwear, I hang dry my workout gear and use them about three times before washing. I workout at a gym, and my clothes don't stink after a workout. After a few wears, they do get a sweat smell though, and it is time to wash them. I don't have to smell beautiful at the gym, but I don't want to smell terrible either! :) I make my own powdered laundry detergent (DYInatural.com) for all my clothes, workout included and I hand dry my gear (aside from bras and undies). It drives my boyfriend crazy that I don't dry my gear! I KNEW there was a reason I didn't! :) Great article. I like hearing that I'm not the only one that has uncomfortable bouncing around! - 1/7/2013   9:35:36 AM
  • 6
    Thank you for pointing out the weight gain issue with exercise. I refer people to the "how exercise can cause temporary weight gain" article often, as there is a lot of freak out when the scale goes up. :o)

    For me, the scale tends to go up the first week after after any increase (or change in style) of exercise, then back down to normal the week after that. - 1/7/2013   9:30:00 AM
  • 5
    Very interesting about the temporary weight gain when starting to work out!! - 1/7/2013   9:10:29 AM
  • 4
    Great information for newbies getting started!! I especially like the laundry advice! We keep a separate basket for workout clothes that get washed more regularly- and dried on low heat for most & some line dry depending on the fabric. - 1/7/2013   8:28:07 AM
  • 3
    So true,It used to make me nuts when my lower half would retain fluid after a weight workout. Now I know in a day or 2 it will be gone. - 1/7/2013   7:36:07 AM
  • 2
    Good advice--even for those of us without "pricey workout duds," it's helpful to know how to extend the life of and remove the stink from workout clothes.

    And EVERYONE needs reminding that everyone was new once--not just the newbies, but those who aren't any more. - 1/7/2013   7:25:18 AM
  • SEBASTIANALADY
    1
    Great tips. I liked the one about feeling intimidated by not knowing everything at the beginning. Every gym has its own little quirks and culture. You will get a rhythm in time and until then, don't be afraid to ask questions.
    - 1/7/2013   7:15:28 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

Sign up for a FREE SparkPeople account