By Sarah Huntington
The flowers are blooming, and the scents are drifting into my apartment — spring is on the horizon. The spring equinox has metaphoric significance: It is a time for reflection, taking one final look back before heading forward. We review the long winter, reestablish goals, and open the windows and wake up to the present. And even if you are not into reading astral signs, “Spring Cleaning” certainly has a literal and metaphoric meaning on its own.
Each season I go through my closet, and get rid of clothes I haven't worn. In our economic, material-driven West, we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. Yes, I love clothes, and a new workout outfit certainly motivates me to get my booty to the gym, but how many tank tops does a person really need!? (While I made fun of my father’s eclectic running outfits, he was truly a testament to wearing shirts until they were recycled into cleaning rags.)
Workout clothes should be assessed each season. If your sports bras are threadbare, it is probably a good idea to replace them. Additionally if you can see through your spandex, it’s probably a good idea to trade those leggings in.
Below you will find suggestions on what to keep and what to toss. Did you know Patagonia and Athleta will replace your worn-out wear for new threads, as their items are guaranteed? And for clothing that has seen its life span in your closet, donate to places that take gently worn or used clothing. According to the U.S. EPA, 85% of discarded textiles — 12 MILLION TONS of clothes and fabric — go to landfills every year. Remember we only have one planet, let’s not waste it.
And don’t forget to pump a little Eminem while you are cleaning out your closet. Make it fun!
Toss: If the threads are coming apart, and your girls are bouncing like a Baywatch Babe on the treadmill. Save those bouncing balls for the beach. You can still keep bras that aren’t 100 percent perfect for lounging around the house — but for workouts, make sure you have the support to get through any fitness scenario.
Keep: Tight enough to be supportive, and to keep the girls in place.
Toss: If you can see through the fabric, or if your leggings are falling down when you are doing squats. If the elastic feels threadbare. Many stores will exchange your spandex if they get worn.
Keep: If they feel snug, and don't dig in or cut off circulation.
Toss: It is rare I have to toss a tank top, and usually I do a clothes swap with cousins or friends, because more often than not I am just sick of wearing the same stuff. But, when I do have to toss it, it is usually because I have sweat stains that I cannot get out, or it no longer fits. If it has lost its shape from over-wear, or from your body changing, get rid of it. You want to feel good. As one of my friends says - Look good, feel good, play good.
Keep: Tops that make you feel confident and a force to be reckoned with.
Toss: Many companies recycle used sneakers, so before you toss them contact the manufacturer. In addition, old sneakers are great for painting, mowing the lawn, puddle stomping, etc., so always have a junk pair around. The saying is 200-500 miles depending on what you are doing in your sneaks. I find that once the ball of my foot is a little low, or I start to feel an abnormal ache in my knee, it is time to get a new pair.
Keep: My new Asics are amazing. They fit perfectly, and no blisters on my 10-mile runs on the treadmill. Shoes are as unique as people, and thankfully for us the science behind running shoes has changed dramatically. To find your best fit, go to your local running store and get an assessment of your gait before your next pair.
Toss: When your socks have holes, probably a good idea to toss them. (Dad, if you're reading, that suggestion was for you.) If the elastic is thin, they rub awkwardly, or they don't stay up.
Keep: Your lucky pair.
Toss: If there are any holes, a strange odor, or the shoulder strap is getting threadbare. If the bag itself is still intact, you can always replace the strap, also.
Keep: I’ve had the same workout bag for a very long time. It is all about purchasing the right bag so you never have to toss it. Get a bag with compartments for sweaty clothes and all your extras. I love bags that aren't one big abyss, but have several zippers and sections to help keep me organized. I also have different bags for the different roles I play. I have a coaching bag, and then I have my own workout bag. With smaller pouches, color code them so you can keep your fixings organized.
Taking care of your clothes
- If your clothes are drenched in sweat, especially after a delicious hot yoga session, wash them immediately after wearing them.
- If you want to wash your clothes later, hang them up to dry instead of tossing them in your laundry hamper. Don't bunch them up in a plastic bag and forget for days, unless you want a 3rd grade science experiment.
Clothing Recycling Resources
Clothes are given a second life, for those who can't afford brand new clothes.
For clothes that are too worn to donate.
When you donate a sports bra, you give a former slave a job. It is that simple. Your donation helps survivors of human trafficking start their own business, selling second-hand clothing while they recover and build a new life.
Your old soles become brand new places to run.
A vagabond by nature, Sarah Huntington has traveled to Egypt, Argentina, Turkey, Austria, Vietnam, London, and France... to name a few. She loves to travel, hike, and explore the world. She played collegiate basketball and studied Literature, History and Education at Connecticut College, and is currently a high school English teacher and basketball coach. Sarah is also a runner (completed the NYC Marathon), and her newest workout obsession is kickboxing. Sarah currently lives in Wilton, CT with her pitbull Jada, and enjoys spending her "free" time writing, reading, practicing yoga, working on meditating, and investigating all things related to fitness, fashion, and literature.
Sarah is running the Boston Marathon this month, and would love your support! Click here to help out.