There’s nothing like a pair of well-loved tennis shoes or your favorite inspirational workout tee to get you in the mood for a great sweat sesh. But did you know that your exercise clothing and equipment have an expiration date? And, it’s probably already passed! Clothes, weights, bands, mats, etc. are not meant to last forever, despite how much we love and take care of them.
Clean up and Clear out the Worn, Smelly and Dangerous
- Shoes. This is the one piece of workout gear that most people use far too long. The problem with wearing and training in shoes that have too many miles on them is that the support, tread and laces start to wear out. The general replacement rule is new shoes every 300-500 miles or 6 months (whichever comes first). Avid runners who literally pound the pavement several times a week may have to buy new shoes every two months. It’s easy to track miles worn with a fitness app or simply mark the purchase date on the shoe box when you get them. What should you do with your old shoes? Donate them, of course. While they aren’t good for supporting your daily run, they can provide footwear to someone in need. If they are beyond being useful or are damaged, you can recycle them. Just don’t throw them in the trash! Check out organizations and options here.
- Clothing. I know you love all those race shirts and inspirational tees you rotate through your workout wardrobe but, like shoes, clothing has an expiration date. Especially high-tech gear that promises support, moisture-wicking, antimicrobial, reflective detailing, and other features. First and foremost, toss it if it still stinks after washing. You know what I’m talking about. That ½ marathon shirt from 2010 should be retired from your rotation because it just stinks. Save it for the memories or give it to a clothing recycler. Most workout clothes have a lifespan of about a year. I’ll let you keep it if you wash and care for the clothing right but after about two years, it’s time to go! Anything with spandex, Lycra, and other support material will breakdown over time. Same for sports bras. When they no longer keep you snugly supported, it’s time to go! Again, you can donate items that aren’t damaged or gross, or find a clothing recycler to give them a second life.
- Equipment. Do you remember the story about a senator’s resistance band snapping and hitting him in the face, which caused him to fall and break a few ribs? It happened, and it’s scary as hell. Those bands and other worn out equipment can be, at best, ineffective and, at worst, downright dangerous. Check your equipment quarterly to see if it’s still functioning as it’s intended. Yoga mats that are crumbling, neoprene peeling from dumbbells, strange noises coming from the belt of your treadmill, are all signs to tune up or replace your equipment. In general, items like resistance bands have a one- to two-year lifespan and should be immediately discarded if they are tearing, fraying, or losing their elasticity. Yoga and other mats could be used for up to 5 years depending on frequency of use, and proper storage and cleaning. Weights with a covering on them should be replaced when that covering peels or breaks down. Medicine and balance balls can last for several years if they are properly inflated before using.
- Use common sense with equipment. If something doesn’t look or feel right, don’t use it. Unlike stinky workout clothing, overused equipment can injure you! Read the manufacturers’ guidelines for maintenance, and clean regularly. Learn more here about safe and gentle ways to clean your home gym equipment.
It’s all about the Routine Maintenance
Just because your gear looks good, doesn’t mean it’s still doing its job. So, it’s up to you to check it every once in a while before it breaks down.
Set a reminder on your calendar every few months to check out your equipment, sort through your clothes, and log the miles on your shoes. Your long-term health and fitness goals depend on having the right equipment and gear that is also safe to use.
If you’re thinking of setting up a home gym and have questions or need some guidance, let’s chat. I help homeowners set up affordable and efficient home workout zones that will support them in their goals.