Let’s get this out of the way: gyms can be a hotbed of bacteria and germs. Between the hardcore runner on the treadmill next to yours splashing their sweat everywhere, the rowing machine’s sticky handlebar, and the suspiciously moist yoga mats, it’s not always easy to feel fresh and confident – especially in a post lockdown world.
The good news is, there are a few simple hacks that you can easily add to your routine to feel your best (and cleanest) self at the gym.
To give yourself your best shot at a fresh gym sesh, start by taking a quick shower. I know it sounds counterintuitive to shower before getting dirty. But by doing so, you’re washing away any sweat accumulated during the day (or the night) and the pollution grime that might be obstructing the pores of your skin. Don’t forget to cleanse your face too. This will help to prevent building up too much sebum when you sweat, and eventually ending up with an embarrassing pimple on your chin.
To avoid the unpleasant smell of sweat and the oily sensation on your scalp, wash your hair about once or twice a week. If you have long hair, it’s also a good idea to tie it or braid it. Unless sticky hair strands on the face and in the neck are your thing, in which case, you do you, love.
Not only this will keep you smelling like a dream (or, at the very least, not smelling like your worst nightmare), but it will also avoid ruining your prettiest top with sweat stains. Don’t forget to slip your favourite deodorant into your gym bag pocket, should you need a quick touch up mid-session.
It goes without saying, but just in case, let me repeat for the people in the back: put on clean some clean clothes! There’s little point in adopting good gym hygiene habits if you’re wearing the same sweaty pants three days in a row. Washed clothes help prevent some serious oopsies, such as yeast infections or body acne. And of course, they also smell nicer.
No-one said that you can’t smell just as nice as you look. It’s perfectly fine to spray a bit of body mist on your hair and clothes, or a few drops of your favourite perfume on the wrists. This subtle trick can help boost your confidence and make you feel like the snack you are.
Ever sat on a bench press, only to realise too late that you’re now swimming in a pool someone else’s sweat? Ew. To avoid this dreadful situation, a top gym hygiene habit is to clean the equipment before you use them (and after, because it’s the polite thing to do). Anything one would put their sweaty hands on: seats, handgrips, rest pads, knobs and levers, weight stacks… spare none. Either bring your own sanitising wipes or use the gym’s alcohol spray and paper towels if available.
In case you’re not always able to sanitise the equipment, here’s a helpful hack: bring your own towel to the gym. You can use it to sit or lie down anywhere you want without your skin having any contact with germs-infested surfaces.
One of the easiest ways to protect your skin from other people’s questionable body hygiene is to wear clothes that cover your arms and legs. So maybe throw a light jacket over your crop top, save your gym shorts for your morning run and opt for some cute leggings instead. Why not check out our new anti-cellulite leggings, original scrunch bum leggings or ombre gym leggings.
Because you’re going to be touching a bunch of random objects, it’s important to remember to disinfect your hands from time to time. A small bottle of hand sanitiser is a gym essential. You can also wear a pair of gym gloves, which will also prevent you from calluses from weightlifting (and they look pretty badass, too).
It might not be the best idea to sit around at the gym café in your sports clothes after your workout. Instead, jump in the shower as soon as you’re done. If you’re showering at the gym, always bring a pair of trusty flip-flips with you, so you can enjoy being an athlete without the athlete’s foot.
I see you, smelly gym gear from last week’s workout, marinating in a bag in a corner. Leaving your clothes to rot for days is a big nuh-uh when it comes to good gym hygiene habits, especially when it’s this easy to clean: let your clothes soak in cold water for a bit, wash them with a bit of soap, then let them air-dry overnight. Even if you didn’t sweat a lot (maybe because you’ve wisely followed this guide, or maybe because you’re born with it), also remember to sanitise your yoga mat, water bottle and any other equipment.