There’s a lot of emphasis on staying clean and not-gross while training BJJ, and for good reason. Cleanliness is paramount when rolling around with and sweating on your teammates to prevent illness and infections. Plenty of athletes, though, don’t realize that they aren’t as clean or unstinky as they should be, whether it’s due to growing up with different hygiene standards or getting so used to their own smell that they don’t even notice it anymore.
If you’re not sure if you’re as hygienic as you should be before stepping onto the mats, take these precautions just in case:
1. Clean off your feet before getting on the mats.
Feet stink, and they pick up plenty of dirt and grime throughout the day even if you’re wearing close-toed shoes. Before you step onto the mats, take a moment to wipe them off with wet wipes (Just keep a pack in your gym bag!) or even wash them off in the bathroom. Your teammates will be thankful that you didn’t bring your all-day sock marinade onto the mats.
2. Apply deodorant when you get changed.
Keep a full- or travel-sized container of deodorant in your bag at all times. Even if you’re not terribly stinky before training, once you start sweating, the deodorant you put on before going to work may not hold up. An extra spray or swipe can’t hurt.
3. Don’t smoke right before class.
This applies to both tobacco and weed. Smoke sticks to hair and skin and clothes, and the smell of whatever you smoked will also seep through your skin as you sweat. Your teammates can’t police your lifestyle choices, but if you are a smoker, hold off on lighting up for at least a few hours before class. You may be “nose blind” to the scent, but your teammates aren’t, and you very likely smell way more than you think.
4. Shower or wipe yourself down if you have a stinky or labor-intensive job.
Ideally, we’d all smell like fresh soap and shampoo during jiu-jitsu class, but unless you’re a heavy sweater, you may not need to wash up before training if you have a sedentary day before class starts. That’s not the case for many laborers, restaurant workers, or other scent- or sweat-heavy jobs. If you’ve been sweating throughout the day or are around a lot of intense scents, you need to shower before training. If you absolutely can’t wash up, carry a pack of body wipes with you and thoroughly clean yourself off before getting changed.
5. Keep nail clippers on you at all times.
A single scratch can be all it takes for a teammate to develop an infection on the mats. Most of us try to be good about trimming our nails before we leave for class, but how many of us have arrived at the gym, looked down at our toenails, and realized that, yep, they could probably benefit from a trim? The easiest way to get around this is to keep a pair of clippers in your gym bag that you only use for the gym — keep another set at home so you don’t have to take your gym set out of the bag and then accidentally leave it on your bathroom counter.
With a spare container of deodorant, a pack of body wipes, and a set of nail clippers, you can make sure that you don’t become That Person at the gym that no one wants to roll with because of poor hygiene.