5 Things No One Ever Tells You about Working Out


By: , – Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
1/7/2013 6:00 AM   :  86 comments   :  206,895 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.

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  • 86
    I wish I had know what damage I could do to my feet by exercising and ignoring the pain. Strong feet and ankles are a must when we are heavy and suddenly start jumping and running. If your feet are out of commission, you can't keep doing the same things. After a long recovery, and even more weight gained, I'm starting again, using the feet and ankle exercises and chair workouts. - 1/28/2015   10:58:11 AM
  • 85
    Proper posture and form is so important. When I first started exercising I didn't have a clue about this and got injured and gave up. I finally found a personal trainer who was a task master about posture and form and what a difference. - 1/4/2015   11:40:06 AM
  • 84
    Vinegar also works instead of conditioner, and your clothes don't smell like chips (fries) afterwards.
    One thing I learned about exercise, little that I do, is that when you've been doing it for a while and then you stop for whatever reason, you feel crappy! I still haven't got to the boundless energy stage that so many people seem to talk about, but if I don't do my 2 miles Walk Away the Pounds in the morning, I feel tired and stiff and sluggish.
    - 10/1/2014   3:23:43 PM
    I already knew this, but this time I actually DID it... after the first couple of weeks, it can be hard to keep going...but do it anyway. Start slowly, especially if you are very overweight, or older, and gradually build up your workouts. It does get easier with time, and repetition! Keep trying different things until you find something you love to do. I am convinced the older you are, the harder it is to lose weight. I just turned 58, and it's MUCH harder to lose now than in my 30's! This is where diet comes in. I work out at least six days a week, but only lose weight when I really track my food and watch my calories. I've lost almost 40 pounds, and am no longer "obese" in the BMI chart. But it takes diet and exercise. And a lot of determination.
    - 8/5/2014   10:11:34 PM
  • 82
    I wish I'd known about injuries. It's very easy to take off, enthusiastic at first, only to injure myself days later from overdoing it. This often made me quit ... I'd say I was resting up but ultimately that just lead to giving up. So for me, I wish I'd had a different mindset, you know? Like, instead of quitting, why didn't I think more like an athlete and less like a wimpy overweight person seeking excuses why I shouldn't or can't exercise. An athlete would say that quitting is not even an option and would do whatever it took to get back to work. They know or would find out immediately things like how to continue working out, even WITH an injury. Olympians do it all the time. We see how they perform with every variation of bandaging imaginable. That's probably no fashion statement. It's likely injury care! I found that inspiring. So for me now, it's "think like an athlete" and I do. And as long as I'm properly informed, it works and I keep up the momentum! Wish I knew you didn't have to quit or take super long breaks to be fully recovered before getting back at it. I also wish somebody had given me tips on how to quickly and easily deal with the ins and outs of,the,sweaty mess we make of ourselves. I'd love to hear about when people shower, how often, what to do if you're out of time and need to skip the shower, (lets face it! Showers are easy but hairstyling? that can really add time to the routine! So what's the quickest way to get all your exercise routine done right down to smelling and looking great as you plunk yourself down at the breakfast table with all the time in the world! - 7/29/2014   11:48:20 PM
    I have to say that I feel much better after reading at the end of the article that even Jessica Smith couldn't do more than 10 minutes of cardio before feeling like she was going to die when she first started. That's me, competely! I don't have that much weight to lose, about 20 lbs - but I am approaching 50 and the most out of shape I have ever been - and it's proven to be a much bigger challenge facing weight loss this time. For the first time in my life, I don't want to eat right and exercise just to lose weight. I want to eat right and exercise because I want increased energy and stamina, I want to feel good, and I want to do it for my overall health. Knowing that Jessica started out as out-of-shape as I am means there is hope that I can get passed it by sticking with it. Building endurance has become one of my goals. - 5/18/2014   5:17:26 PM
  • 80
    This is all good advice. I am 50+ and I have been moving and grooving for almost 2 months and realize that it is harder for me to loose the weight that I need to. I have been working out daily and I have changed the workouts to give variety but I am at a stand still after 10 pounds. I am looking at the numbers on the scale and want them to go down but after reading this article I feel a little bit better. I still want the scale to read different though. :) - 11/27/2013   9:22:53 AM
  • 79
    Great tips - very helpful. I would add my favorite (and money-saving!) laundry tip: I use plain white vinegar instead of liquid fabric softener in the washer. It rinses the soap out of clothes well, AND it doesn't leave behind a smell.
    But I wouldn't advise using both vinegar and baking soda, unless you want to create a foaming washing machine volcano. :) - 11/18/2013   9:22:13 AM
    Love this article! We appreciate tips on caring for your activewear! My personal tip would be to find a fitness compilation on iTunes to keep you moving and upbeat! - 11/9/2013   11:49:04 AM
  • 77
    TERRIFIC advice; thanks so much!!! The laundry issue has plagued me and I am going to try your suggestions starting today. The mildew smell can be awful, and I hope this will work. Hubby and I soak our clothes with sweat every workout. - 9/8/2013   8:14:58 AM
  • 76
    I really enjoyed the article. I was fortunate to realize that spark people is all about the positive. It's all about great healthy food not what I can't have. Find exercise that you enjoy and not a chore. There is so much to learn about health. Enjoy reading some post/articles. Use everything as motivation. Instead of focusing on negatives, focus on improvements. Good luck and enjoy. Love the comment of trying new things and then finding what you love:) - 9/8/2013   6:54:20 AM
    Good tips! I don't have a lot of workout clothes because I don't go to a gym! I walk outside every day and do aerobics and strength training at home! I've learned several things-- 1) Good shoes are a MUST, especially for walking or running, 2) as you get older, it IS harder to lose weight (a lot harder in my 50's than it was in my 30's!), 3) there are lots of ways to gauge progress, NOT just the scale, and 4) the more exercise I do, the more I enjoy it! - 9/7/2013   10:04:07 PM
  • 74
    Im a starter. I am embarrased all the time. Sometimes people riding cars around have yelled at me terrible things. I'm 95kgs. I wanna know if i should start jogging a bit? Pls - 9/7/2013   8:07:08 PM
  • TDEIG13
    Great article. Does anyone know why I get so cold after a workout. I am freezing its crazy. - 9/7/2013   7:59:54 PM
    Thank you for this article! - 9/7/2013   6:35:54 PM
  • 71
    Great article! Thank you for the tips =) - 9/7/2013   4:39:33 PM
  • 70
    So true! All points I have had to learn the hard way! This information is really helpful to new people starting an exercise regimen. - 9/7/2013   11:56:57 AM
  • 69
    Stick with it! People told me as I would get older, it becomes harder to start over. They were right. Every time I "start over", I find it takes much longer to recover, and I'm much more prone to injuries. Just don't ever quit! - 9/7/2013   11:07:01 AM
  • 68
    Very helpful, thanks! :o) I wish I knew (back then) that the scale didn't matter too much. Using measuring tape and how I feel every day tells me how I'm doing a lot better than a fluctuating number on a scale. - 9/7/2013   10:02:15 AM
    Thank you! - 9/7/2013   9:32:09 AM
    Thanks for the information, I just started so I don't have an exercise outfit (I just wear my regular clothing) but now I know hoe to take care of them when I do get to buy them. - 9/7/2013   8:08:57 AM
  • 65
    Great information. Wish I had had this info when I first started working out! - 9/7/2013   7:29:26 AM
  • 64
    Try something once, even if you think you're going to hate it. This is how I discovered spinning classes and now I can't live without them! - 9/7/2013   7:28:55 AM
    I wish I'd realized that it's important to have good workout clothes that I feel comfortable in and that I feel look reasonably good on me.

    I also wish I'd gotten over my shyness to use the sauna in the gym sooner - because I loved it once I started using it. - 9/7/2013   5:26:11 AM
  • 62
    Great information I loved the article! - 7/5/2013   11:14:35 AM
  • 61
    thanks for all the great information. - 6/27/2013   5:19:17 PM
  • 60
    So many things in this article spoke to me. Thanks - 6/16/2013   10:32:37 AM
  • 59
    THANKS! - 5/12/2013   10:03:06 PM
  • 58
    Will definitely try the vinegar soak. I'm already drying things over the tub. Also, I needed the reminder about stretching. This was great information. - 5/11/2013   1:59:24 PM
  • 57
    Totally going for the vinegar rinse from now on. Weird thing: this is the third item i've seen today (newspaper, magazine and SparkPpl) that suggests vinegar in the rinse cycle. guess it's meant to be! - 3/10/2013   5:36:40 PM
  • 56
    very good information to know - 3/6/2013   7:24:47 PM
  • MIMI097
    When I sweat, there is no odor. Is there a health reason behind that? Just curious - 2/26/2013   11:28:29 AM
  • 54
    Wow very informative... - 2/21/2013   8:58:12 PM
  • 53
    All this info was given to me a long time ago when I was in the service. - 2/20/2013   3:31:24 PM
  • 52
    Oxi-Clean also works wonders on the smelly clothes!!! - 2/19/2013   9:09:06 AM
    Thanks for the tips. - 2/16/2013   1:08:18 AM
  • 50
    love these tips!!
    Thank you for sharing..will be keeping our workout clothes separate from now on, and adding baking soda!! - 2/15/2013   9:30:17 AM
  • 49
    Hey everyone, what I think is also very important to know when you start to work out, are the positive effects on you! When you first start moving your body and beginning to exercise, it is usually not fun. It takes a while before you can feel and experience the positive outcomings of exercising. I recently wrote a blog post (Jan 31st, 2013) on this - you might wanna check it out ;) Like one fellow Sparkie suggested - print it out and post it, so you can see it - it definately helps you in staying motivated!
    Have fun - and listen to your body ;)

    Have a great day and lots of fun moving you body

    - 2/6/2013   10:03:42 AM
  • 48
    Very helpful article! As with the others above noted, it's a VERY good reminder about the scale and time of day. :) - 1/27/2013   7:28:28 PM
  • 47
    gonna try the vinegar trick - my rowing clothes STINK! - 1/16/2013   7:57:44 PM
  • 46
    I love all the tips. One thing i wish i had known about working out was that ST you don't necssarily feel right away so don't push to hard and say i'm not doing anything you more than likely will hurt yourself or you won't be able to move the next day. - 1/16/2013   5:54:18 PM
  • 45
    I wish someone had told me this a year ago. I was working out consistantly for the first time in my life. I quit after 6 weeks because the scale didn't move and I got depressed. - 1/14/2013   2:22:58 PM
    Great advice and as we all know - knowledge is power. I found this on Pinterest and found it kind of motivating (although everyone is different).
    "It takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing, 8 weeks for your friends and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Don't Quit!" - 1/14/2013   2:16:02 PM
  • 43
    I wish I had learned a few things about exercise prior to doing it was 1) that strength training is as vital as cardio work; 2) that exercise is supposed to cause sweat, pain and possibly tears; 3) that I won't see results for a while and others may see it before I do and 4) to keep going regardless of the obstacles that may be in the way. Others will be inspired by you, no matter where you may be on the scale. - 1/14/2013   1:21:17 PM
    I suffered with the pain of fibromyalgia for a few years and once I began exercising, my pain went away. There was no pain medication that could take away my pain but by power walking and doing strength training, I have been pain free as long as I exercise regularly. If only I had known those first years I was suffering with the fibromyalgia that exercise was the key to feeling normal again.
    - 1/14/2013   12:16:13 PM
    What I didn't know? Anything, I'd say. Didn't use a sports bra for 2 years, causing irreversible damage, because nobody told me. Plus I believed for 3 years that exercise is the way to lose weight. The more you do, the more you lose. But turns out exercide is nothing without eating the proper food and logging it.
    Thanks for the article! - 1/14/2013   12:08:08 PM
    Before i put the clothes in the washing machine i pour in the soap then wait until the water disolves the soap and the water level rises. Many people put the clothes in the washing machine then the soap. This leaves some of the clothes not getting clean - 1/14/2013   11:55:44 AM
    That interval training burns much more fat and calories than regular aerobic exercise. - 1/14/2013   11:51:58 AM
  • 38
    Helpful info, thanks! - 1/13/2013   12:18:44 AM
  • 37
    Great tips. thanks! - 1/11/2013   1:32:39 PM

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