Top 10 Things New Fitness Enthusiasts Wonder About But Are Afraid To Ask
Great, you have started a new routine and are exercising regularly and loving it. However, everyone else seems so effortlessly put together. How do they do it? I seem to always get a few shy questions from new clients about hygiene, things that are happening to their bodies, what to do in certain circumstances. Believe me when I say you are normal and there are things that can be done to help. Give yourself a few months and you will be a pro (and have solutions of your own!)
10. Gym bag smells like a cat crawled in and died
Solution: If you can’t remove and dry your sweaty clothes and shoes from your gym bag (which you definitely need to do at some point in the day), consider a dedicated, seal-able bag for your unmentionables. This can be as simple as a tied up grocery bag, or more elaborate like a compression or dry sac that you can get from any sporting/camping/outdoors store. It will keep the smell contained until you can deal with it. Toss in a dryer sheet or two while you are at it. In terms of functionality, diaper bags (see image) work really well for organizing your gym clothes and cosmetics.
9. Foot/shoe stink
Solution: Now that you are sealing away your stinky shoes (#10), you can give your shoes a good spray with a natural antibacterial/microbial solution containing essential oils like tea tree oil, lavender or citrus. It is the bacteria that cause the odours, not sweat itself so killing off the bugs will help with the smell. Bacteria thrive in moist environments so allowing your shoes to dry completely is a must. It is also imperative that you wear sweat absorbing socks (which you can also treat with some essential oil spray). There are some people who swear by sealing their shoes and storing them in a freezer to kill the bacteria – that does work, but you might have some explaining to do when house guests fetch some ice cubes for their drinks!
8. Gross Underwear and sweat related issues
Solution: Everyone sweats, some more than others, but we all do – especially in areas of low air flow (think armpits, hairline and crotch – it’s just hotter there). Our undies and bras soak up sweat and we experience more heat stress than other parts of our bodies due to low air exchange. Our bodies sweat and cool via evaporation. The only advice I offer you here is
• avoid cotton or non-breathable synthetics and opt for wicking/quick materials.
• start the day out clean – less bacteria on your skin means less chance for a mean case of stink
• immediately ditch the gitch after a workout, dry off completely with a clean towel (if you do not have time or access to a shower), mist offending areas with a natural body spray (consult the internet for some awesome DIY ideas) and put on clean fresh undergarments. Honestly, there are days I use 3 pairs of underwear a day (tmi??). It is what it is! Brutal honesty here. Another trick that will work for mild sweating is to invest in some panty liners for mild bladder leakage. They are thin and very absorbent – they need not soak up urine, but sweat.
7. “Bacne” (a.k.a. acne on your back)/bacteria related blemishes
Solution: wipe skin clean and dry or shower after workouts with a cleanser containing tea tree oil or salicylic acid. If you can’t shower, wipe yourself down with moist face wipes containing acne medications. Exfoliate on the regular at home during regular shower times with a natural loofa.
6. Time of the month concerns (fatigue, cramps, leakage)
Solution: I wish there was a solution to this one! Just know that regular exercise does help with the severity of symptoms associated with menstruation. There are times that you will just have to alter the intensity of your efforts (nausea, cramps) but do not cancel activity outright unless the situation is dire. If it is that bad that you regularly cancel your workouts, it might be time to consult your doctor, as there may be other things going on that need addressing. Proper nutrition, extra sleep and a slower start have all been proven to help stay comfortable in your workouts. Did you know that a significant number of world records and personal bests have been achieved by women during menstruation? Its true! Our bodies are in overdrive during our periods, and are experiencing hormone fluctuations that affect different aspects of metabolism and performance. Unfortunately research is just catching up on this phenomenon in the Sports Med field and results vary. One thing is for certain – if you stop getting periods now that you are exercising it is an indication that something is very wrong an your body is no longer capable of repairing itself from training efforts. Seek medical advice immediately
5. Grease-ball head, frizzy locks and fly-away hairs
Solution: Dry-shampoo, head buffs and argon oil are a girl’s best friend. A little goes a long way. Always carry elastics, bobby pins and a hair band – just in case!
Start with clean, dried hair whenever you can. For heavy sweat sessions, you can spritz with water, blow dry the roots and style as usual. When sweat is not as bad, a light dusting with a dry shampoo, brush out and style is usually all that is required (straight or wavy hair). For curly hair, towel dry roots and smooth some products into ends and scrunch up!
Solution: Do your thighs rub? Shorts ride up? Underarms or bra strap area get rubbed raw? Try to ensure well fitting clothes, a bra where your breasts do not spill out the sides with thick straps. Instead of shorts consider 3/4 length or knee length tights. In all other instances, Body Glide or any product like chamois cream or petroleum jelly that does not absorb into the skin works well to provide a friction barrier and save your skin from an uncomfortable rash.
3. Bladder control and incontinence
Solution: Do you pee a little when you run, jump, lift or squeeze? While this is common, especially after childbirth, it is not normal. It means that your pelvic floor needs some attention. Seek diagnosis and treatment from a physiotherapist who specializes in the matter. There are many things that can help, and of course way beyond the scope of a personal trainer, despite claims. A proper diagnosis involves and internal and external physical exam. In the mean time, go easy or avoid the exercises that cause the most problems for you – you may be doing more harm than good. Try a liner designed for the occasional leak, and start your exercise regime on an empty bladder just in case.
2. Man-hands, calluses and blisters
Solution: Gloves (for lifting and exercising) and a good pumice stone. Keep your hands soft by giving them a good exfoliation after a shower or bath. Protect them with hand cream and lifting gloves. Your hands will stay happy. Your manicure on the other hand? Might be time for shorter nails and lighter polish if you are rough on them.
1. Managing the monster-beast hungry attacks, pants that don’t fit and restless energy
Solution: Ok, these aren’t problems – these are indicators your metabolism is firing up, you are gaining muscle and your body is waking up to life. Focus first on filling your meals with whole, nutritious foods, especially an hour or two before working out, and up to 45 minutes after a workout. Once you nail that, you can start to look at timing and macronutrients. The post workout snack is a crucial step in taming the beast. Maybe your quads are getting a bit bigger…maybe your shoulders too, but I would hazard a guess your muffin top is getting smaller. Body composition is more important overall – trust the process. Having bigger muscles in all the right places make you a calorie burning, capable awesome beast. Go LIVE, BE, DO! Have some fun while you are at it.