The Gym Bag Blues

Have you ever embarrassed yourself so badly that you aren’t sure how you can ever recover? For me, there are too many such moments to count. But my most recent incident makes me either want to put a bag over my head or lock myself in the bathroom for life.

Dramatic? I think not.

I started making exercise a habit of mine earlier this year. It was a New Year’s Resolution that actually stuck (I also joined this amazing online course that helped to seriously motivate me, so I can’t take all the credit).

As a woman in her 50s, I was really starting to see and feel things happening to my body that I did not want to see and feel. Bingo wings and a behind that practically hits the back of my knees are just two examples of phenomena that have occurred.

Add in tight hips, pain in my lower back, and the inability to stand up from a sitting position on the floor. The latter makes me want to give up and stay there until I die because it would take less time.

After a year with my current place of employment, I finally started taking serious advantage of the free gym. I am now an active member and go just about every single work day.

Note to self #1: when you go to the gym nearly every single work day for nine months, you might want to make sure your gym bag AND gym clothes are fresh.

I started noticing my gym bag was a little ripe a couple months ago. I thought it was my sneakers, so I started throwing them into a plastic bag. Problem fixed?

No.

And then I realized something.

It wasn’t my sneakers.

What happens to clothes that you hard-core sweat in almost everyday? They start to take on a life of their own. I wish I could be one of those cute, perky girls who barely breaks a sweat and when she does, she still smells good.

But I’m not.

I stink when I perspire hard. It doesn’t matter how much deodorant or body spray or baby powder I use.

Last Wednesday (I remember the exact day because I have PTSD) I pulled my workout clothes from my bag and oh.my.dear.god. The odor that hit my nose was akin to something the cat dragged in.

But because I really wanted to get in a workout I put them on — against my better judgement — and went and did my thing.

Note to self #2: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT turn on the wall fan that is behind you when you know you smell like Fluffy’s latest conquest.

After about 20 minutes on the elliptical, the man on the machine in front of me turned around and gave me a look. Then it hit me. About as hard as it hit that poor guy.

People could smell me. After about another two minutes, he moved along. The paranoia in me was running deep. I stuck my face down into my shirt and inhaled. Even though I already knew. I knew like I know my own name.

Note to self #3: If your own stench makes your toes curl, then you’ve got a problem, Houston.

I finished my workout and high-tailed it out of there, although it was a little too late.

I should have gone home as soon as I took those clothes out of my bag. These are people I see in the halls at work.

All.the.time.

Needless to say, I spent the better part of last weekend de-stinking my gym clothes, gym bag, and sneakers. Although I feel more confident I won’t smell too badly anymore, I’m afraid I have stained my reputation (pardon the pun).

It’s too late for me, but it may be not too late for you. Below are some tips to stay fresh as a daisy, although you most likely have more common sense than a goldfish than I do:

  1. Hang your workout clothes to dry after the gym. Because putting them into a hamper wet is just asking for it and is the beginning of all your problems.
  2. Speaking of hampers, keep these clothes in a separate one. Or a bucket. Or the garbage. Burning them is also an option.
  3. Before you wash them, turn them inside out. For obvious reasons. I, apparently, am not familiar with Captain Obvious.
  4. Do not put them in the dryer ever. Heat + Odors = Disaster.
  5. Wash them with a 1/2 cup of vinegar sometimes. Vinegar, the Miracle Liquid. Good for everything from a sore throat to washing your windows.
  6. Wash your gym clothes separately from all your other clothes, in cold water, and detergent specifically made for said clothes. This is not the occasion to try to save time. Or water. Or electricity. Or soap. This activity will not help to reduce your carbon footprint. But it is reducing pollution, so take your pick.
  7. Store your sneakers in a bag that is vented, hanging from the outside of your gym bag. That person walking by you will not appreciate it, but he will just have to take one for the team now won’t he?
  8. Drop a couple dryer sheets in your gym bag. By a couple, I mean fifty.
  9. Spray your sneakers with some kind of odor refreshing spray. I picked up Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X. The can is already half empty and I bought it three days ago.
  10. Repeat all of the above for as long as you live or suffer the consequences.

So, my friends, there you have it. Some words of wisdom from the apparent not so wise. I had ten ways to get it right, and I didn’t even get one. I was never a good test taker.

Now go live long and prosper, exercise almost everyday, and stay odor-free. If you can’t stay odor-free, just don’t turn on the wall fan.

Mo

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