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Sweatiquette: Your Answers to Common Exercise Etiquette Questions

Have you ever wondered about how to handle sticky situations at the gym, in yoga class, or when exercising outdoors? We got expert advice on how to deal with tricky workout issues to avoid an awkward encounter.

Related: The Best Gyms in America for Every Workout

Locker Room Chit Chat

Q. "My boss goes to my gym. Do I say hi or look the other way when I see her half-dressed in the locker room?"

A. The locker room isn't the place for drawn-out conversations or loitering in your skivvies. "Make eye contact, say 'Hello' and 'Nice to see you' and continue getting dressed," recommends Maryanne Blake, a trainer and instructor at the Sports Club/LA in Boston. "Also have a friendly exit strategy in place. For example, 'I'd love to catch up with you. Maybe we could talkafter Spinning?' You'll keep awkward moments to a minimum without seeming rude."

Related: 7 Ways to Find a Fitness Buddy

Wacky Workout Wear

Q. "A guy in my abs class wears short shorts. It's not pretty when he does crunches. What can I do?"

A. "Your best bet is to move across the room," says Jennifer Galardi, fitness instructor at Equinox Fitness Clubs and Crunch in New York City. (BTW, gym-goers take Galardi's classes in bikini tops, hot pants, you name it.) There's not much you or a trainer can do unless the unfortunate eyeful is truly inappropriate. If that's the case, ask a gym manager to speak to the exhibitionist. In the meantime, "Don't let someone else's outfit -- or lack thereof -- distract you," Galardi says. Try to focus on your form, not his.

Related: The Short Shorts Workout Plan



Friendly Runners

Q. "Is it rude not to say hi to every runner or walker I pass on my neighborhood route?

A. "During a track workout or race, no one expects you to be talkative. But during your regular morning workout, it's good etiquette to make eye contact, smile, and say hello," says Vince Digneo, founder and head coach of Tattersols, a women's running and racing team based in Stanford, California. If you're out of breath or passing tons of people, a simple smile and friendly nod go along way.


Related: Run a Half Marathon in 8 Weeks



Weighty Talk

Q. "My friend gloats about her recent weight loss. How do I shut her up?"

A.
 She may be boasting because she feels insecure, but it's annoying to hear about it over and over. Steer the conversation in a new direction: Acknowledge her success, then change the subject by asking "How's your family?" or "What's new at work?" suggests Judith Matz, a clinical social worker and coauthor of The Diet Survivor's Handbook. If she circles back to weight talk, be up-front and tell her it's getting tedious, Matz says. Explain that you're glad she's proud of herself but you would rather talk about other things, like the great yoga class you just took.

Related: See How Long It Takes to Lose 10 Pounds


Stomach Talk

Q. "My stomach sometimes gets upset when I work out. How do I avoid stinking up the gym?"

A.
 "Don't eat a big meal within two to three hours of working out," says Anish Sheth, MD, a gastroenterologist at Yale and coauthor of What's Your Poo Telling You? Exercise, especially a cardio workout, stimulates your GI tract. So eat a low-fat, lower-fiber snack (try an energy bar) about an hour before to fuel up without inducing digestion problems, and hit the bathroom pre-gym. If you still find yourself running to the locker room for relief, stash our fave new find in your gym bag: Poo-Pourri ($9.95 for a two-ounce bottle,poopourri.com). Spray the bowl before you go, and a barrier of essential oils prevents any funky smells from leaving the scene.

Related: The Best 7 Foods for Runners

Awkward Locker Room Encounters

Q. "An acquaintance keeps trying to talk to me when she's naked in the gym locker room. Where should I look?"

A. Make a lot of eye contact, suggests Erich Schuttauf, executive director for the American Association of Nude Recreation. (Nudists do this to stay focused when they're chatting with in-the-buff-buddies.) That way, you won't get distracted by her odd-looking outie or supersize...well, you know. If you just can't bear all that skin, excuse yourself when she comes over by saying, "I'll leave so you can get dressed/take a shower/etc." Hopefully she'll get the hint.

Related: Summer Skin Rehab


Strategic Padding

Q. "It's so cold in my gym that goose bumps aren't the only things popping out. How can I turn off the 'headlights'?"

A:
 Nip this problem in the bud with the right sports bra. Seek out one with cups that are slightly padded or made of spacer fabric, a special kind of knit that has two layers with a pocket of cushioning between them. One brand that's superior in high-beam prevention is Moving Comfort (movingcomfort.com). Or get more coverage from your current bra with Boob-eez, superthin silicone disks that stick to your skin and stay put through a sweaty workout. An extra perk: They're hand washable, so you can reuse them ($12 to $18, boob-eez.com).

Related: The Best Sports Bras for Your Size

Sweat Stains

Q: "
Help! I'm embarrassed by my crotch sweat marks. What can I do?"

A.
 Stop the waterworks without dialing down your intensity, says professor of exercise science and FITNESS advisory board member Michele Olson, PhD.

Step 1: Loosen up. Choose looser bottoms (they won't cling to you-know-where) with wick-action fabric. Look for a built-in panty patch to absorb moisture.
Step 2: Powder down. Sprinkle an absorbent, talc-free powder, such as Vagisil Deodorant Powder, into the crotch of your bottoms before you put them on.
Step 3: Assume the position. Snag a cardio machine near a fan, and angle the breeze toward your lower body rather than your face

Related: No-Sweat Summer Hair

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Quick Adjustments

Q. "How do I discreetly pick a wedgie when I work out?"

A. Move to the back of the class or near a wall to put everything back where it belongs. If you get any strange looks, say "Just need to readjust!" says Doris Pooser, coauthor of Always in Style. "To prevent wedgies in the first place, ditch cotton panties and look for those made with nylon and a stretchy fabric, including elastine or spandex," Pooser suggests; try Lululemon Athletica's Smooth Moves Girlshort ($18, lululemon.com) or the Under Armour Women's Active Boy Short ($19.99, underarmour.com).

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