We’ve all had fitness horror stories. When I put a call out on Twitter, the number of bodily function anecdotes that filled up my replies and mentions was actually to the point where I was cringing and DM-ing people with recommendations for nutritionists and gastroenterologists. For most of us, though, we don’t have serious health issues every time we sneak in a workout. More likely, it’s an occasional occurrence, a bit of flatulence at the wrong time or a wardrobe malfunction from getting too fierce in Zumba (no judgment). But while these might make for great IG Stories after the fact, in the moment, they’re downright gnarly; but don't let them put you off working out entirely.
Below, we go over some of the most common ones, and, more importantly, let you know what to do about them. Let’s get to it!
Mid-Run Urge to Poop
Unfortunately, every runner can relate to this first fitness horror story. You’re out on a run, feeling like you’re on top of the world, when suddenly, your stomach issues a gurgle and you realize that you ~have to go~. Like, right now. The first thing to do is stop panicking, that’s only going to exacerbate an already shitty (sorry, couldn’t resist!) situation. Then, think about your options: Is there a store nearby? Or a park with a public washroom? What about a construction site with a port-a-potty outside? If you can make it to a restroom, great. If you can’t, try to at least ascertain that you’re in a quiet area (with no children around!) before you drop your drawers (and only do that if the alternative is actually pooping in your pants). If you’re in the woods, try to bury the evidence as best you can—and avoid leaving behind any clothing that you may have used to wipe. If this happens with any regularity, keep notes on what you’ve eaten in the couple of meals before this run, or if there’s a certain time of day it always happens. For a lot of runners, the urge to go happens pretty early in the run, so consider planning a route that features a restroom early on so you won’t get caught out—or even do laps around your neighborhood so you can sprint for your own bathroom when the urge hits.
Farting During Yoga
This has to be among the most common problems women face in life: the struggle to avoid the mid-pose fart during yoga classes, which somehow always seems to happen during the quiet moments. If you’re nodding your head as you read, first of all, you’re definitely not alone. Second, if you can keep it quiet and it’s not a constant issue, simply shift your mat to the back corner of the room. Regular occurrence? Try switching up the hours that you go to yoga: If you find you’re always gassy in the mornings, maybe swap for an evening class (or practice at home). Want to keep the same schedule? Try cutting down on gas-inducing foods right before; things that are high in fiber, anything with carbonation, and chewing gum are all typical culprits. As a last defense, take something like Gas-X to curb symptoms, but make sure you take it at least 30 minutes before class to go into effect.
Ripped Leggings Mid-Zumba
Your favorite pair of leggings finally bites the dust with a loud rip during a particularly energetic moment in Zumba. Yikes! First line of defense: Shimmy your way to the back of the room. Second: Laugh it off. Third: Go for a '90s casual vibe and grab a sweatshirt to wrap around your waist. (Bonus points if you do this with a crop top). On the list of embarrassing issues, this one barely even ranks. Chances are, the other people in your class have had equally awkward wardrobe malfunctions in the past.
Painful Bumps “Down There” After Spin Class
The bane of a cyclist’s existence: the dreaded saddle sore. Unfortunately, these pimple-like painful bumps can make sitting on a bike seat downright unpleasant (and make you panic that you have an STI). A sweaty spin class often doesn’t allow for wind cooling or standing to climb (really standing to climb, not just standing when an instructor shouts), making it the perfect environment to get gnarly ingrown hairs and blocked follicles that hurt like the dickens. Got one? First, keep that area clean and as dry as possible (commando and a long skirt should help). Take a day off the bike to let everything heal, and opt for a walk or a yoga class instead. Don’t pop anything yourself—tea tree oil can help dry the suckers out, but if it still hurts after a few days, see a doctor. And when you go back to spin class once it heals, swap out your normal Lycra for proper cycling shorts (any bike shop can help you out) and make sure you’re getting out of your sweaty clothes right after class. And when you pedal, try to avoid jamming your lady parts directly on the saddle. Your sitbones should bear the brunt of the weight, not your soft tissue. Stand up and shift your weight around regularly, and remember: Even pro cyclists deal with this on a regular basis, so it's not just you.
Throwing Up in CrossFit
This one might just be a “you went over your limit,” or it might be a warning sign that you need to reconsider your pre-class smoothie. Was your stomach bothering you before you got sick, or was it right after (or during) a hard effort? If you had stomach issues before, it was likely something you ate earlier. Was there anything out of the ordinary? Or, if you stuck with your normal snack, consider scaling back next time and having a smaller portion (save half the smoothie for after), or eat a bit earlier. If it was an immediate reaction during a hard moment, that’s a sign that you’re going way harder than you need to be. You’re trying to burn a few calories, not win the CrossFit Games. (I promise: The girl next to you doesn’t care how fast you rowed on that interval.)
Stuffed Nose Mid-Bike Ride
Riding a bike outside, the breeze in your hair, feeling like you’re flying… and desperately needing to blow your nose. Snot happens, especially when it’s colder out, or when it’s allergy season. It can get embarrassing if you end a ride covered in boogers, or you accidentally leak snot onto the cute guy you’ve convinced to ride with you. So, learn to blow an efficient snot rocket. (That’s right, a snot rocket.) Cover your left nostril with your finger, tilt your head to the right side, and blow out forcefully, aiming down—just make sure no one is behind you! Repeat on the other side. You’ll have a few mishaps (snot on the leg is common when you’re learning how to master this move in motion), but once you get it, you’ll be breathing a whole lot easier.
Nothing to apologize for here! If you get tingly during a Pilates class, consider yourself lucky. However, if it happens regularly, you might want to check in with someone who specializes in pelvic floor issues, because that might be a sign that something is going on with your muscles down there.