5 Embarrassing Gym Moments—And How to Avoid Them

Don't let these exercise goofs ruin your workout.

Medically reviewed in March 2021

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Whether you work out a little or a lot, we’ve all had them—embarrassing gym moments. The key to surviving, red face and all, is how you respond. A sense of humor helps.

Click through to learn how to handle those I-really-wish-that-hadn't-just-happened moments—and what to do to prevent them.

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Downward Dog Disaster

No yogi alive can honestly say that he or she hasn’t passed gas during a yoga class. Many yoga poses put your body in positions that allow your sphincter muscles to relax—and release gas. So, if you stick your butt up in the air or lie on your back in happy baby pose, there’s a chance gas is going to escape.

Best-case scenario, it’s silent. It doesn’t matter how stinky it is. If anyone glances up, feign ignorance.

Worst-case scenario, it’s loud. Pretend it didn’t happen. If anyone notices, laugh it off—after all, you’re not the only one who’s had to toot.

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Vomiting From Working Out

Have you ever puked mid-workout? It’s not pretty, but it happens. Several things can cause you to get sick, including pushing yourself too hard, drinking too little or too much water or filling your stomach with too much and the wrong kinds of food before you start.

The Fix: “Fat is probably the hardest to digest,” says Sharecare Chief Medical Officer Keith Roach, MD. “A large or fatty meal is going to sit in your stomach longer and be more likely to cause you to vomit.” Roach recommends eating a lighter and more carbohydrate-based meal one to two hours before working out.

If you’re eating and drinking healthily but still hurl, “you’re probably overdoing it,” says Roach.


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Peeing Your Pants

Both men and women can suffer from urinary incontinence. While there’s more than one type, accidental leakage at the gym is most likely associated with stress urinary continence—the result of weak pelvic floor muscles.

The Fix: Kegel exercises may help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Other ways to stay dry include not holding it in (pee when you first feel the urge); avoid jumping or running; eat enough fiber to avoid constipation, which can make it worse; avoid foods that irritate your bladder and quit smoking (one more reason).

While leaking a few drops isn’t a big concern, if you are leaking enough to bother you, you should see your doctor, says Roach.

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Treadmill Trip Ups

Picture this: You’re running on the treadmill, tunes are cranking and then suddenly you trip, lose your balance and fly off the back. Hopefully, the only thing bruised is your ego. Serious injury can occur as a result of falling off a treadmill.

The Fix: In order to keep your feet on the tread, stay focused. Don’t check email, fiddle endlessly with the controls or get so engrossed in Judge Judy that you lose your balance. Keep your hands free so that you can grab the handlebars if you need to—don’t hold your phone or water bottle. Finally, don’t try to go faster than you can. If you start feeling tired or weak in the legs, slow down before you fall off.

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Oh, That Smell!

Nothing kills the joy of spinning class more then the body odor of the peddler next to you—except if you discover the smell is wafting from you. Despite commonly held beliefs, sweat doesn’t cause body odor. Bacteria that live in your armpits are mostly to blame.

The Fix: Shower regularly and give your armpits an extra good scrub with an antibacterial soap; dry them thoroughly post-shower. Apply an antiperspirant and deodorant daily; reapply as needed. Antiperspirants reduce sweating. Deodorants mask the odor and may prevent bacteria growth. For women, shaving your armpits may help keep body odor in check.

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