Sure, we've all forgotten a piece of fitness gear from time to time, but some gym-goers make a habit of working out in clothing that's certain to make their sweat session less effective, or worse, destined to get them injured. Once I saw a man on the stair climber wearing cut-off jean shorts (hello, chafing?). Another time I saw a woman taking Zumba class in stiletto boots.
To each their own? Maybe, but there are certain things that you should never wear to the gym. Take a look. Does your gym wardrobe make the cut?
1. CottonWhether in shirt, pant, or sock form, cotton is your worst enemy at the gym. Cotton absorbs your sweat and doesn’t dry very quickly, which means you’ll be soaking wet and seemingly a couple pounds heavier by the end of your workout. Super sweaty clothes can lead to skin irritation, and can also give you chills when your heart rate returns to resting. Try synthetic materials like lycra and polyester instead. These fabrics will wick away sweat and dry quickly.
2. Casual sneakersI love my Converse Chuck Taylors as much as the next person, but they're no good for working out. Flat is bad because the shoes have zero arch support, and Converse are as flat as it gets. Converse are a low-cut style that practically screams ankle sprain, particularly when running and jumping. Instead, look for cross training sneakers that are lightweight, breathable, and give your foot a little cushion.
3. A regular braOuch. This one hurts just thinking about it. A properly fitting sports bra is an absolute must for working out. There are a million different styles on the market for every possible size. Take an afternoon and hit several sporting goods stores. You may have to try on more styles than you'd like, but once you’ve found the perfect fit it's well worth it. Other advice? I suggest buying several of the winning style when you find it so you don’t wear one out from overuse. Another way to extend the life of your sports bras: Don’t put them in the dryer. Let them air dry.
4. JewelryJewelry isn’t only unnecessary at the gym, it’s unsafe. Rings, dangling earrings, and bracelets can easily be caught in machines or even in your own workout clothing while lifting weights or doing cardio. Plus, working out while wearing it is also bad for your jewelry. Do you really want dried sweat caked on your diamond studs? Stick a little case in your gym bag for your accessories, and de-jewel before you get moving. (And don't forget to use a lock.)
5. LotionIt’s tempting to put lotion on dry skin when changing into your gym shorts or a tank, but don’t do it! Lotion + sweat = a slippery, greasy mess. While it’s mainly just annoying and clammy feeling on your legs, slippery hands will definitely kill your upper body workout—particularly with free weights and machines.
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, best-selling author, and entrepreneur. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants’ to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.