5 Things No One Ever Tells You About Working Out

By , Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
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.

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.

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NASFKAB 3/17/2020
Needed to read it again. Specially why I might gain weight after exercise.
CECELW 11/25/2019
some pretty good points actually Report
ERIN_POSCH 11/21/2019
thanks for sharing Report
ICECUB 10/29/2019
SHOAPIE 10/28/2019
Great ideas Report
LIDDY09 10/28/2019
Thanks Report
Great tips, Thanks! Report
good tips thanks Report
Thanks Report
Thanks for sharing Report
great points Report
Good article. With technical clothing I have 1 tip to add. If you can, hang them out on a line after working out before washing. It really helps with getting rid of the funky smells. Report
Thanks for the tips! Report
Here’s another one, you’ll want special exercise clothes Report
I just love Jessica Smith! She is upbeat, informative, and always spot on! I just
did one of her exercise videos and then sat down to Spark and read this article! Report
Thanks for the great information! :) Report
great ideas Report
Great tips! Report
Great tips, Jessica! Thanks! Report
I think the best part of this article is the pointing out that some folks will gain weight when starting a new program. Click the link to read about why this happens and why you shouldn't be concerned about the increase. It is worth the read. Report
Very good tips! Report
Knew most of them but good info on the others Report
Thanks, for the 5 things, great info! Report
Great information, that no one ever tells us ;) Report
today is HIIT day for me Report
Interesting article. Report
Great advice here. Report
Another article primarily for women. Report
Great tips on laundry. Pushed myself to bike today. Getting started is the hardest part. But it's done! Yay! Report
I only got through 10 minutes with low impact but on the upside, I did it which is more than before!! Plus it hits my 10 minutes of daily exercise challenge! Here's to day 1!! Report
1st day in......gonna take it day by day Report
Just starting my whole spark regiment today, hoping that having to answer every day to someone will keep me on track to losing and exercising. Seems my willpower has gone along with my age (72). Wish me luck.
I echo what Jessica said about working up to working out longer and harder. I started with just 10 mins of easy cardio and a short strength training in a chair. I said I would never work out for an hour. Guess how much I work out now? You find you start to like the challenge. I now can say I enjoy it and feel so much better when I do exercise. Report
Good article. I use vinegar regularly instead of fabric softener. I'm allergic to some fragrances and vinegar doesn't leave an odor on clothes, but it softens them. Report
Good point about the vinegar. I used to call it the "funk". Report
Good article. Report
Exercise is something you can work up to. When I started I was happy to just walk for 10 minutes. Three plus years later I am doing vigorous cardio 4 times/week for 45 minutes and loving it. Walk every day, strength train and do yoga as well. Love it! Report
No kidding about the bounce thing. I'm pretty sure the only thing that's going to tame the ladies at this point is a lot of duct tape. Report
Love Jessica Smith! This is some awesome advice...adding vinegar to the laundry is something I will absolutely try. Her advice about proper support is spot on, high impact sports bras have come a looooong way! Jessica’s ability to motivate, mix things up, annnnnd focus on proper form and technique were a pivotal piece in awakening my inner athlete...a huge game changer. Report
if I'm going straight to work from the gym after a morning workout, I hang my workout clothes on the hanger that my work clothes were on. On those super humid days, I'll take the hanger in the office and put it on the back of the door instead of leaving them in the car all day.
At home, I hang them on the side of the hamper to dry out.
When using the washer, I always put the detergent in first, then the clothes. The agitator is designed to pull the clothes to the bottom. Report
These are all good tips. Learning how to breathe while exercising is a must. It took me a while to learn to breathe out when doing the hard part of lift when lifting weights. I also find hanging my workout clothes on the line when I get back from a tough workout freshens them before I wash them. Report
On washing - get a free and clear type detergent - much better for the skin.
Secondly - if you use a dryer sheet for static cling do the same thing - find one that is free of extra smells. I had an on-going rash until I got rid of my sheets with lavender scent. I almost always use very little detergent and cold water. Works perfectly. Report
Great tips-especially the Laundry one.

My addition- get up early enough before that morning walk/run to have a bowel movement before you leave home. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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.
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.
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! Report