If you’re the type of guy who regularly goes to the gym, making sure that you’re properly outfitted shows that you respect the shared space and are considerate of the people around you. Plus, you wouldn’t want to be the person who leaves equipment soaked in puddles of sweat, or the one that everyone else can smell from across the floor. It’s not only a matter of etiquette, either, as dressing properly can also make your workout more effective.
That being said, take note of these common mistakes that you might not be aware you’re making when gearing up to work out:
Ignoring the Accessories
Even if you’re someone who’s already fairly confident about what to wear to the gym, you could still be missing a few key accessories that can make working out safer, more comfortable, and ultimately more enjoyable. Small details can make a huge difference.
For example, choosing cycling socks that have been specially designed for the purpose over regular gym socks can help keep your feet cool and dry while you’re logging in miles on the stationary bike or elliptical. If you do a lot of weightlifting and have sweaty palms, you could benefit from fitness gloves or lifting straps that can cushion your palms and improve your grip. Meanwhile, a headband or bandana can keep hair and sweat off your face and eyes, allowing you to focus on your workout.
There are plenty of fitness-related accessories out there that can enhance your gym-going experience and keep minor nuisances from getting in the way of a good workout. Even if you consider yourself a low-maintenance kind of guy when it comes to fitness fashion, having a look at what’s available can’t hurt.
Wearing the Wrong Materials
You can wear any old thing to the gym, but that doesn’t mean you should. There are certain fabrics that you should avoid at all costs if you want to stay cool and comfortable while working out.
Clothes made with 100 percent cotton are by far the worst thing to wear when you’re exercising. Though they’re lightweight, breathable, and relatively inexpensive, they also absorb sweat like nobody’s business and are bound to leave you drenched at the end of an intense workout session. Anything made out of denim is also another workout no-no. It should go without saying, but garments made out of this material can be incredibly hot and restrictive.
When it comes to choosing clothes for exercising, the only feature you should be looking for is “moisture-wicking.” Garments like these can pull sweat away from your body towards the surface of the fabric, where it can then evaporate. Moisture-wicking fabrics include bamboo, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, spandex, and certain cotton blends.
Wearing Cologne or Jewelry
For a lot of guys, it’s second nature to put on a bit of cologne before they leave the house. After all, we all want to smell good, and a quick spritz of your favorite scent can be an excellent mood-booster.
However, such an innocuous-seeming practice can be incredibly disruptive to your fellow gym-goers. Dousing yourself in your favorite fragrance or indulging in scents that are too strong can give others around you a headache—or worse, trigger serious scent allergies. It’s also not the best idea to mix sweat with certain scents, anyway. If you’re set on not stinking up the place while working out, simply take a shower before and after you hit the gym, and make sure that you wear fresh and clean clothes.
Some men also don’t leave the house without a bit of jewelry on. For safety purposes, though, it’s best to leave the massive gold chain or expensive watch at home or in your gym bag. These accessories can snag on the equipment you’re using, and it’s easy to damage them if you insist on wearing them during a workout session. Stick to the essentials—such as your wedding ring, if you’re married—and consider swapping your hundred-dollar timepiece for a more fitness-focused one such as a wearable band or smartwatch when you exercise.
Not Stocking Your Gym Bag with the Essentials
Finally, one of the most common mistakes you can make is neglecting to check your loadout before leaving for the gym. Making sure that you have certain necessities is a must. A clean water bottle to keep you hydrated, a gym towel to wipe yourself off, a toiletry kit for cleaning up after, and a fresh set of clothes should all be permanent mainstays in your bag.
Other items worth packing include an odor-absorbing travel laundry bag for your used clothes, a pair of wireless earbuds to listen to heart-pumping tunes or a motivational podcast, and a small combination lock to secure your belongings with.
While it’s true that there are no hard and fast rules about what you should wear to the gym, it’s probably not the best idea to show up to your local fitness center wearing denim jeans or sporting a pair of flip-flops. Aside from the very real risks to your health and safety that doing so would pose, suiting up in the wrong gear simply isn’t very comfortable for most strenuous physical activities. This goes for whether you prefer to work up a sweat by pumping iron or putting in a few good miles on the treadmill. Keep these tips in mind, though, and you’ll be sure to stay comfortable as you burn those calories.