Due to a tragic laundering error involving a potty-training* toddler’s underwear and the family’s general laundry comingling in the dark recesses of my washing machine, I went to the gym the other day smelling like…
At first I couldn’t figure it out as the scent of fecal matter was faint and sporadic. I checked all my kids before sending them off to be cared for by others while I pursued a self-indulgent activity and they were a-ok. I didn’t smell it again until the weight floor when I was halfway through my workout. Gingerly, I peeled up my sweat-soaked top and sniffed. Nothing but Downy freshness dampened with body odor – just like it should be. But then I lifted up the bottom hem. I was a human TURD SCRATCH-N-SNIFF STICKER. (Admit it: You loved scratch-n-sniff when you were a kid. My fave were the smelly pencils. Which is probably why I love my chocolate with a side of graphite to this day. Mmm.)
Right as I came to this embarrassing conclusion, Gym Buddy Megan looked right at me and said, “I smell.” I waited her to finish her sentence with “… the business end of a baby” but she didn’t. So I finished it for her. “It’s me,” I hung my head in shame, “I smell like poo.”
“What?” She looked confused. “No, I smell. I stink. Seriously.” She even sniffed her own armpit for good measure. (Yes, we are beloved on the weight floor.) “Whooo-eee!”
After Megan and I established that while we could both smell our own offensive scents neither of us could smell the other’s, then it was Gym Buddy Allison’s turn. In Spin class she kept making funny faces. At first I thought it was just the sweat dripping off her nose but finally she declared, “I can’t wipe my sweat off. My towel smells like a skunk.”
“I dunno, I washed it last night!”
“Well then I’m sure it smells fine.”
“It doesn’t. It reeks. I think the handlebars on my cycle contaminated it.”
“You think a skunk was the previous occupant of your cycle?”
She glared at me.
“Fine, give me your towel.”
“Well, now I have to smell it. Gimme.” (This is the gym equivalent of “smell my finger.”)
She handed over her towel. I sniffed it. It smelled like skunk. For the record, this is the same girl that once threaded her towel through the legs of her gym shorts to protect her delicate behind from the bike saddle. Not that I can talk. I use old burp rags as sweat towels – yes, purple duckies and everything – and no matter how often I wash them they still kinda smell like puke. ANYHOW.
The fact is that people stink. They smell funky at the bank, the grocery store and (times 10) at the State Fair. And they especially stink at the gym. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played the “how many workouts can I get away with before washing this sports bra” game… and lost. Nothing ruins good push-up form like dropping low and getting a good puff of nasty sweat smell right in your face. And if your own stank isn’t bad enough, at the gym you are often dealing with other people’s stank which is 100 times worse than yours. (You know how you love the smell of your own bellybutton – yes, you do, don’t lie – but even watching someone else sniff their belly button makes you want to hurl? Yep.)
But do you know why you stink? B.O. is an obvious culprit but where exactly does it come from? And how is it so, well, stinky? I covered 10 Sneaky Sources of Body Odor for Shape and even I was surprised by how many weird reasons there are that you smell. For instance, did you know that one of the first signs of a UTI (urinary tract infection) is stinky pee? And that if you hold your pee in (because it hurts to pee when you have a UTI, duh) that the ammonia smell will actually come out your pores making you smell like the kid you sat next to in kindergarten? Also, did you know that wearing deodorant (literally de – odorant, get it?) can make your pits smell worse?? Check it out and read the other 8 reasons in my slideshow!
Do you have a good smelly gym story? Feel free to rat out your fellow gym goers too! Anyone else ever discover a weird source of their smell?
*Potty training is the BANE of my existence! Any tips you have would be much appreciated! Also, yes, I showered. Then I rewashed that entire load of laundry, sans undies, with bleach. While I was in the basement my toddler pooped on the carpet. Such is motherhood.