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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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. :) Report
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. :) Report
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! Report
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. Report
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:) Report
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! Report
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 Report
Great article. Does anyone know why I get so cold after a workout. I am freezing its crazy. Report
Thank you for this article! Report
Great article! Thank you for the tips =) Report
So true! All points I have had to learn the hard way! This information is really helpful to new people starting an exercise regimen. Report
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! Report
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. Report
Thank you! Report
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. Report
Great information. Wish I had had this info when I first started working out! Report
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! Report
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. Report
Great information I loved the article! Report
thanks for all the great information. Report
So many things in this article spoke to me. Thanks Report
THANKS! Report
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. Report
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! Report
very good information to know Report
When I sweat, there is no odor. Is there a health reason behind that? Just curious Report
Wow very informative... Report
All this info was given to me a long time ago when I was in the service. Report
Oxi-Clean also works wonders on the smelly clothes!!! Report
Thanks for the tips. Report
love these tips!!
Thank you for sharing..will be keeping our workout clothes separate from now on, and adding baking soda!! Report
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

Very helpful article! As with the others above noted, it's a VERY good reminder about the scale and time of day. :) Report
gonna try the vinegar trick - my rowing clothes STINK! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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!" Report
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. Report
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.
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! Report
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 Report
That interval training burns much more fat and calories than regular aerobic exercise. Report
Helpful info, thanks! Report
Great tips. thanks! Report
I'm kind of appalled that this article doesn't mention anything about injury prevention, or the importance of core training, or ankle strengthening?

Maybe going to a orthopedist to getting your gait analyzed? Or going to a cardiologist to get a stress test? Report
These tips are grounding and encouraging- and Jessica Smith is awesome! Report
This is a great article to help people get over the intimidation of the first workout. It is also comforting to know that some of the problems that may occur are shared by others. Thanks! Report
I had no idea that your weight can fluctuate that much during a day. Interesting stuff! Report
Strange question, but what about underwear and the fitted workout pants? Are they (the good ones) made to be worn without? Report
Great information - I had an entire drawer stink from the odors left in the clothes I worked in - heavy outdoors work in hot sun - not work-out, per say. Will remember this advice for all of our working & work-out clothing. Report