Gym Confessions: Girl, You Stink

deodorantWe all have those days. You know, the really busy ones when you start your period, haven't shaved in a week, and you can't remember if your last shower was before or after President Bush left office.

On those days, please, please, please don't stand next to me at the gym.

During hip hop class--we're doing Closer by Neo--I kept messing up. I smelled some powerful body odor, and I kept thinking: Girl, you stink.

It's great to get funky, but someone was getting really funky, if you know what I mean.


I don't claim to be a picture of body odor perfection, sometimes my stuff stinks. And I forget to put on deodorant all the time. So often, that I keep some in my purse. And if there's none in my purse, I dab soap from the ladies' room under my arms. With this trick, I can usually pass the sniff test until I get home. My DH will let me know if a problem develops

But some people--especially at the gym--just totally smell. I think it's mainly because they're not washing their workout clothes. I see it all the time. Girls will show up to class in the same outfit they had on the day before. I don't care how cute that shirt is if it's growing it's own legs and learning how to walk.

According to WebMD, sweat itself doesn't smell. But the bacteria that live and breed in our sweat produce that tangy, musty odor. Yes, sweat is natural and normal. It's just that it stinks. Here are tips for controlling BO while exercising:

  1. After washing with soap and completely drying, immediately apply an underarm antiperspirant. Remember, deodorants do not prevent sweating. They mainly mask the smell of the bacteria on your sweaty skin. Antiperspirants are chemical agents that reduce sweating. Many antiperspirant preparations also contain a deodorant, which helps to mask the smell. Check the product you use to make sure it contains an antiperspirant. Use an all-natural product if you like, whatever works for you.
  2. Keep your underarms dry. Bacteria have a hard time breeding in dry areas of the body.
  3. Try a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to fight body odor. Use one teaspoon of peroxide (3%) to one cup (8 ounces) of water. Wipe this on affected areas (underarm, feet, groin) with a washcloth. This may help destroy some of the bacteria that creates odor.
  4. If sweat from working out is your #1 cause of body odor, wash your workout clothes often. Sweaty gym clothes are a bacteria-breeding ground.
  5. Change your diet. Sometimes, fatty foods, oils, or strong-smelling foods like garlic, curry, and onions, can seep through your pores and cause body odor. (Always see a doctor or dietitian before making drastic dietary changes.)
  6. If you have excessive sweating (called hyperhidrosis), talk to your doctor. There are many treatment options for those with more severe sweating who desire more permanent treatments. Also, certain medical problems can lead to excessive sweating. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
  7. Shaving your underarm regularly will help prevent the accumulation of bacteria and can reduce sweat and odor.

True, in some societies, body odor is acceptable. But in New Jersey, it's not. And don't even get me started on women who wear maxi pads but don't change them often enough. My nose is sensitive, and I know when that's going on. Mix that stank with body odor, and it's enough to make me start dancing around without any music.

Today, at the gym, I was finally able to ignore whoever-it-was with the wacky smell. I'm not brave enough to say anything about it even if I knew exactly who it was.

Do you notice people smelling like BO? Do you do anything about it besides holding your nose?

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