Sweatiquette: Answers to Common Exercise Etiquette Questions

Photo courtesy of iStockPhotoHave you ever wondered about how to handle sticky situations at the gym, in yoga class, or when exercising outdoors? We got expert advice on questions about how to deal with sticky workout situations.

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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.

Stomach Troubles
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.

A Chatty Exercise Buddy
Q. "My workout buddy chatters through kickboxing class. How do I get her to shut up without hurting her feelings?"

A. Next time she's gabbing instead of jabbing, speak up. Address the problem in the moment, not an hour later in the locker room, and steer clear of accusatory phrasing ("Can you stop talking so much in class?"). "Say, 'I really get in the zone in here, so I'd rather not talk. Let's catch up over a smoothie after class, when I can focus on what's going on with you,'" suggests yoga instructor Ashley Turner, who is also a body-mind psychotherapist in Santa Monica, California. A good friend will respect your workout wishes.

Flirty Trainers
Q. "My trainer's a flirt. How do I tell him to cool it?"

A. You pay him to sculpt muscles, not ogle them. Use our plan to see if you can train him to act like a pro.
Step 1: Drop a hint. "What you perceive as flirting may be an attempt to put you at ease," says Johanna Subotovsky, a trainer at Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City. Say, "I'd get more out of our sessions if we talked less and exercised more."
Step 2: Be straightforward. "If he still comes on to you, tell him, 'I like your training and I see results, but you're making me uncomfortable.'"
Step 3: Make a switch. He's not getting the message? There's no hope for this overly personal trainer. Talk to a gym manager and request a new one.

Related: 8 Health Lies Trainers Tell You

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).

Cell Phones at the Gym
Q. "A woman at my gym yaks on her phone about last night's date, her sex life, etc., on the stationary bike. How do I tell her it's TMI?"

A. We hear you loud and clear. Good news: One of the perks of your membership is that you can let someone else do the dirty work. Ask the manager to post NO CELL PHONE signs or speak to the chatterbox, suggests John Boyd, group fitness director and manager at Chelsea Piers Sports Center in New York City. But what if you're in the middle of a sweat session? Put on your sweetest smile and say, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but it's hard to concentrate on my workout. Would you mind talking somewhere else?"

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.

Runny Noses
Q. "What's the proper way to blow your nose while running?"

A. When you're nose is running faster than you are, a jog can be drippy and irritating. But it doesn't have to be. "When running in a group or crowded public place, I wipe my nose on my sleeve or carry a tissue in my waistband," says New York Road Runners Female Runner of the Decade Gordon Bakoulis. But if you're running solo, it's okay to do the farmer's blow: Turn your head to the side, cup one hand over the side of your nose and use a finger from the other hand to close one nostril. Look downward and blow quickly, quietly, and hard, then switch sides. Don't honk (it will just draw attention!), but use force so you don't need a repeat performance.

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Drinking and Running
Q. "What's the best way to run through a water station during a race?"

A. Speed by the crowded first table and lock eyes with a volunteer at another station. Point to her as you run toward her, take the cup and immediately move back into the middle of the course, says Eve Mills, director of membership and program services for Road Runners Club of America. Keep going while you squeeze the cup closed until there's a small opening. Take a sip or two, fold the top over and chuck the cup into a nearby trash can or onto the side of the course, taking care not to hit other runners.

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