Gym to office, no shower in between
July 7, 2017 3:06 PM   Subscribe

For reasons listed at the end of the question, I need to go straight from the gym to work, sans showering. I have an okay process to get from sweaty to relaxed professional, but I'd like some optimization / product recommendations.

Here is my current process:
I leave the gym super sweaty, very very red-faced. By the time I arrive at work, my face is still really red, hair is no longer wet (except at neckline), but has beachy light clumpy look where the sweat has dried (I have a pixie cut, very short sides/back).

I scuttle into work, trying to avoid being seen by anyone until I make it to the bathroom. I then spray some dry shampoo in, use a face/body wipe on my face and neck, brush out dry shampoo, then use 2-3 more of the wipes to clean myself (pretty much everything pits to feet) while I do a 100% change of clothes.

Then, I do a few fresh swipes of deodorant, a rosewater facial spray (for calming redness), some facial moisturizer, use this stuff to re-style my hair, a little makeup, and I'm ready.

1 -- Is there any substitute for the body wipes? They're kind of expensive and wasteful. Maybe some biodegradable baby wipes would be cheaper/better. Any recs?
2 -- Dry shampoo works well enough, but I'll take suggestions for others. Any dry shampoo in particular that you love is welcome.
3 -- Is there something I'm missing? Something that's unnecessary? I'm not a fan of the 'duck and run' into the building, but I would find it uncomfortable for people to see me in workout gear. This'll be solved in the winter with coats, but it's too dang hot for that in the summer.

(I joined a gym that is awesome and I love, but has no shower, and very very limited changing facilities that are awkwardly placed (ie, at the back of the gym, forcing you to walk through the small class space while the next class is happening). I much prefer to exercise in the morning, after work doesn't really work out for me)
posted by Fig to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As a replacement for wipes, here's what I do: I got a stack of plain white washcloths at Costco. When I have gym days with no shower option, I will put one in a ziplock bag with a tiny dab of lavender Dr. Bronner's soap. It's easy to get it damp, wipe down, put it back in the ziplock, and throw it in my gym bag.
posted by Sublimity at 3:18 PM on July 7, 2017 [10 favorites]

You might not need to wipe down as much as you think - everyone's different, of course, but a lot of people don't get stinky from sweat right away. Like, I'm a reasonably smelly person, but if I bike to work on a warm day and don't shower I'll really only be *starting* to get ripe by the time I leave; it takes a good 9-10 hours or so for me to get properly stinky. My fiance can pretty much go all day and still smell fine. YMMV depending on biology and your job and the climate control at your place of work; might be better to experiment on a weekend.

Even if that feels gross you can probably get away with just a "pits and bits" wipe (plus a change of underclothes of course, which I assume is covered by the complete change of clothes). That's where most of the stink lives. Follow it up with a towel-off of the rest of your body.

For the "duck and run" part, what about throwing on a beach cover-up or lightweight dress? Still a little awkward, but at least it cuts down on the body exposure. If you can take your gym pants/shorts off underneath before you leave the gym, even better!
posted by mskyle at 3:39 PM on July 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

The washcloths are a great idea, though they do require carrying laundry home from work. If you need more convenient and more expensive, normal baby wipes are fine and won't make you smell like baby and can also be bought in bulk at Costco (store brand for this). Nothing's really biodegradable in a landfill, so if you're looking to be slightly less wasteful but still disposable, you want compostable (and it'd probably have to be industrial composting if that's available at your office, rather than home composting.) No matter what they say on the package, don't flush the things.

IME there's no particular cure for redness after exertion but cooling and time, and you can always fill a spray bottle with whatever water you want to save some money there.

The whole dry shampoo routine seems a bit involved to me, but if it works for you, it works. You might try simplifying the post-gym styling routine some morning when you go to the gym but don't go to work afterward, and see how you like it. Maybe just spray some water into your hair to freshen up and get rid of the clumping? You may even be able to just wet your fingers a bit and run them through your hair.
posted by asperity at 3:45 PM on July 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you go in for a complete clothes change I assume you're carrying things back and forth between home/ gym/office. So yes, washcloths would be my suggestion as well. Instead of the dry shampoo I'd run a damp washcloth over your hair as well - that was my preferred way to make my hair damp enough to fix bedhead hair problems when I had short hair. If having dry hair by the time you get to work is important you can do that when you leave gym. Just bring a damp washcloth in a ziplock bag or something. Then brush and go to work where you can do the rest of your routine.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:04 PM on July 7, 2017

Best answer: My skin tends towards beet-red blotchiness and I have been pretty impressed with this product. I think their price is a little bananas (I received a sample that's lasted me forever) but it has an immediate cooling effect and the redness seems to lessen quite a bit.
posted by juliplease at 4:15 PM on July 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

For a red face have you considered a cooling neck wrap or cooling cloth to wear on your trip from gym to office. I am prone to a red face super easily & find patting my face with a cool damp cloth really helps. You could even just use it when you're getting ready to cool your face down.
posted by wwax at 4:48 PM on July 7, 2017

Here are only some examples of DIY wipe solutions, to be used with washcloths or disposables.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:49 PM on July 7, 2017

To minimize stink from the gym clothes themselves, I'd recommend wearing merino as much as possible. While synthetic fabrics get funky quickly, merino is naturally antimicrobial. Smartwool, Icebreaker, and Ibex all have good options.
posted by andythebean at 5:17 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm a sweaty guy who used to ride my bike uphill to work. Here are some lessons I've learned:

-You're probably overwiping. As sweaty as I am, I just used one wipe on my face. Someone else mentioned "pits and bits" upthread; that's more than likely enough. You might not even need that.

-Don't bother with expensive wipes. When I started riding, I found these "cleaning wipes for men". They worked fine, but when they ran out, I didn't feel like spending the money to replace them, so I just bought baby wipes. The only difference was the scent. If anything, the baby wipes probably felt fresher.

-Washcloths always make me feel fresher. I just don't have anywhere to store a wet cloth at my desk, so it would either be laying out for people to see, or stuffed in a bag getting moldy. But if you can do it, you should. Wiping down with a cool cloth is one of the best feelings in summer. TJMaxx usually has a bundle of ten or so nice ones for cheap.

-With short hair, the shampoo might be unnecessary. I just ran my wet fingers through my hair and that usually made it look presentable.

-I generally think most women look better without makeup, so I'd say you can leave that out. But that's a personal preference.

-Is there somewhere near your office you could prep before going in? I.e., does your building have visitor restrooms? A there a fast food place with a well-kept restroom next door? Heck, a library would work even. (I've seen people brushing their teeth in my local library's bathroom before.) The idea is to do what you need to do before you get to the office so that you can avoid the duck-and-run.

-Do you drive from the gym to work? If so, you might be able to do some of this in your car.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:21 PM on July 7, 2017

baby powder, a pinch in each shoe if no socks.
posted by vrakatar at 5:48 PM on July 7, 2017

Body odor is caused by bacteria metabolizing the sweat on our bodies. So what I would do is have a good shower before going to the gym. Being clean before sweating may keep the odor down to a more manageable level.
posted by Coffeetyme at 5:49 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's nothing actually shameful about being in gym clothes, but I understand not wanting to give a strange impression to clients/bosses by accident in the lobby. These days there are *tons* of cute/polished/pretty options for athletic outerwear that you could put on after your workout to make the "scuttle" into a confident walk.

Like, could you shift your gym time ten minutes earlier and find a nice bench outside somewhere to chill while your face calms down and your sweat dries a bit? Then put on a lightweight hoodie or jacket and sun-protective hat (that will aid in shading your red face if it persists) and look super productive and fashionable while you walk through the lobby at work. Since you're not wearing this stuff while you're actively working out it won't get smelly very quickly and you can hang it up in your office with other outerwear so it's not stuffed in with your actual gym clothes. And by wearing a hat inside you're signalling that you're not yet "at" work - when you're not longer wearing the hat, much like taking off a bulky winter coat, you'll be indicating you're fully "there", and people will quickly learn to leave you be until that happens.
posted by Mizu at 6:19 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

To skip the wipes, try packing an eight ounce spray bottle full of water and a little essential oil and a light muslin cloth. Spritz and wipe as required. You probably smell fine, honestly!
posted by queen_mob at 6:36 PM on July 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mitchum and Gold Bond powder. Sometimes I have to do some some hard labor to get to work and get really sweaty and people who would tell me say I look wet but don't smell. I trust them because they tell me when I have a boogie. I wash visible parts so they don't have that dried-sweat sheen. What's left of my hair is very short and easy to rinse and I feel pretty fresh and what you would like is to feel fresh enough to not have this be a concurrent mental subtext throughout the day. Must interpret this, I stink, must they get so close to me when they talk, I stink, etcetera.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:35 AM on July 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

A buzz cut would look the same after you got to work.
posted by aniola at 12:01 PM on July 8, 2017

Best answer: I like the idea of using washcloths as well. I live in Florida where you don't really have to work very hard at sweating your hiney off. When I go to the beach, I have a bunch of washcloths for this purpose: I get them saturated with witch hazel and water. Then I put them in ziploc and freeze them. I throw them in the cooler with my beachgear and when I've done the beach shower and am ready to drive home, I take out one of these cloths and wipe my face and arms and it feels like heaven! I reuse the ziplocs, because I don't put the dirty ones back in.
If you have a private office or a desk where no one can see into the leg well, I'd put up some command hooks and hang up damp items, maybe get a USB powered fan for circulation?
You need to do what will make you feel clean, but personally, I don't believe we smell as much as we think we do.
posted by Jazz Hands at 11:56 AM on July 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just for clarification... I work in a manufacturing plant, where I am one of only a handful of females, and I feel uncomfortable with people seeing me in a tank + yoga pants/capris or shorts. A light jacket and baseball hat is a perfect solution to this. I get there super early and between two shift starting times. Once I get to the office bathroom, it's pretty much private.

I probably don't smell bad, but I do feel much better after wiping down. The washcloth idea is perfect. I'm already bringing in a bag with my clothes, so a washcloth is no big deal.

Thank you!
posted by Fig at 1:19 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

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