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Ask an Expert: Best Way to Wash Workout Clothes

Help! I recently rewarded myself with some new workout gear for sticking to my training plan and they’re already getting stinky! Do you have any advice on the best way to wash workout clothes to keep them smelling fresh?  -Lindsay

Rewarding yourself with some new gear is a great idea! And keeping them smelling fresh? An even better idea.

There are a few factors that can contribute to stinky workout clothes and they are actually pretty easy to address. Odor happens when sweat (and its associated bacteria) build up in your clothes over time. Too much soap (who knew?), the water repellence of most fabric softeners, and the wicking action of many technical fabrics all make this more likely. Your goal is to remove excess soap and bacteria from your clothes, improving the saturation of the fabric.

I recommend the same methods that have seen me through cloth diapering two children (if it worked for that, it can handle your gym clothes!). Use less soap than you would usually add (like about ½ to ¼ of a regular load) and add a generous amount of baking soda to your washing cycle. You can even do this as a pre-soak if your clothes are really stinky.

You’ll need to make the call as to whether your clothes can handle being washed on hot, but that will be more effective at killing bacteria. Finally, skip the fabric softener and instead add a cup (or more) of white vinegar to your rinse cycle. If your machine has a fabric softener compartment, you can add it directly to that at the beginning of the load. The vinegar will make sure your clothes are rinsed fully of the sweat and bacteria (as well as excess soap) leaving you smelling fresh heading into your next workout.

If you find yourself continuing to battle with stubborn odors, this website offers the best list of solutions I’ve seen. Good luck and enjoy your new gear!

About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin.

Keep Moving through the Holidays

From full schedules to abundant tables, the holidays make it more important than ever to make the time to take care of yourself and your body. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to fit in your workout when the days grow short and the weather turns cold. With your investment in home fitness equipment, you already know that staying fit doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of time away from your family or finding extra hours in an already busy day. If you’re looking to ring in the New Year feeling healthy, try these tips to keep yourself going strong.

Pick an Outdoor Workout. If you enjoy staying active outdoors, don’t let the holiday’s drive you into hibernation. By dressing appropriately (here’s a good guide to get you started), you can continue outdoor running through the winter. You can even use your treadmill, elliptical or indoor cycle to warm up inside before heading out for a run that is shorter than usual but still gives you the benefits of an outdoor workout (and the bragging rights of a hard core winter runner). If winter running just isn’t your thing, consider cross training in another winter sport, such as snow-shoeing or cross country skiing or head out to celebrate the season with a day (or evening) of sledding, skating or time on the slopes. Wondering just how many calories your evening of sledding will burn? Check out this link of calories burned in popular winter activities. Whatever your sport, don’t forget to hydrate before you head out. Winter air tends to be on the dry side and with lower temperatures, dehydration can sneak up on the winter sports enthusiast.

Get Tech Savvy. From scheduling your workouts in your online planner to using the latest GPS app on your smart phone to track your running route, today’s fitness tools can help you with everything from calorie counting to interval planning. You can check out this link for a review of fitness apps that can help keep the life in your winter workouts.

Break Down your Goals. Looking to improve your 5K time or simply stay healthy in 2014? Use your big goals to think about achievements for the month of December that will be manageable well into the new year. Perhaps you see yourself establishing (or continuing) your healthy habit of daily exercise. Or maybe you’d like to take the first steps towards a couch to 5K training program. Whatever your goal, starting now in a manageable way will put you ahead of the January crowd, leaving you with established habits and results by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around.

Treat Yourself to the Right Gear. Whether you’re taking your workouts indoors or you plan on braving the weather, treating yourself to the right clothing and equipment will make all the difference in sticking to your schedule. For cross-training indoor workouts, you already know that your Vision Fitness Equipment will see you through. You can also round out your workouts by investing in a yoga DVD or online class or some simple strength training equipment that can be used to add circuits to your treadmill, elliptical, and indoor cycle workouts. If you’re trying a new outdoor sport, such as downhill or cross-country skiing, check out some of the early season swap sales and second hand sporting good venues. When enthusiasts trade up, you can score a sweet deal on nearly new equipment. If you’re sticking to outdoor winter running, be sure to add reflective clothing and some high traction shoes to your go-to items. You may find that trail running shoes will suit you better at this time of year. These offer increased insulation and tread compared to some of the lighter weight running shoes.