Weekend Cleanup: Revive Your Fitness Gear


Revitalize your fitness machines and gear.



Even if it’s caked in cobwebs, you can get it sparkling again in no time. Use a vacuum (and its handy attachments) to clear dirt, dust, and webs. Then dust the exposed surfaces. For dirt that’s tougher than dust, wet a clean rag in a solution of a stain remover and water, wring it, and wipe up the spots. Use a fresh rag to dry things off. Do the same to spot-clean yoga mats, blocks and straps, exercise balls, or neoprene-covered weights.



Get your bike looking new.



Wipe off your bike chain and drive chain with a towel and then spritz them with a degreaser, using a fine brush to go in between the links. Now clean the bike with a sponge that’s been soaked and wrung to lightly damp, using a stain remover and warm water (follow directions on the label). Wipe the surfaces, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry.



Clean your kicks.



Fitness shoes caked in old mud? First, brush away any loose dirt with a chore brush. Next, check labels. If they’re machine washable, follow the care directions and toss them into the washer with your favorite detergent, and add a stain remover the washing machine as well. This color-safe cleaning booster will go the extra mile to help those sneakers sparkle.



Rejuvenate your sportswear.



Stinky sports outfits can get a second life with the right detergent. Wash with a detergent formulated for knocking stains and smells from sports apparel. If your sportswear has lost its functionality, that’s another story. Say goodbye to stretched-out bras and fitness tights, or anything that’s pilled or hole-y. You may find that replacing the old with new jump-starts your workout mojo. Next weekend’s task: a new training routine!


Take Me Out to the Ball Game

For many, the start of spring is not marked each year by the warming temperatures, the blooming of daffodils and crocuses, or the falling of April showers. No, the start of spring is marked by 30 teams—15 in the American League and 15 in the National League—showing up to play on diamonds in 18 states. Before you head for a game near you, do a little research on park rules so you and your family can enjoy a great day at the ballpark. Use these tips to get started.

Layer up. Spring games can be chilly, especially at night. Dress in layers to ensure that you’re comfortable for the long haul (and nine innings can go LONG!). If you bring clothes in a bag, check the park’s regulations on bag size and the number of bags a guest can carry in.

Bring sunscreen. The early-season sun can be tough on winter skin, though you may not feel it due to cooler temps. Slather waterproof sunscreen on before heading to the game, and carry a bottle to the ballpark to reapply. If you get home and notice sunscreen marks on your clothes, check the garment’s care label for instructions. Rinse the garment in cold water to dilute the stain, then launder in warm water with detergent. Always test a small section of fabric before treating, and follow the basic instructions when hand-washing washable silk or wool.

Pack snacks. Check the stadium’s rules—many allow you to bring in unopened plastic bottles of water or soda and snacks like chips, crackers, or fruit. This provides the opportunity for some healthy snacking, but save room for that ballpark frank. Be ready for spills—stash a stain remover pen in your bag so you’re ready to treat spillage as soon as it happens.

Check out park activities. Taking little tykes to the game? Fill some of the nine innings with activities available at major-league ballparks. Strike up an epic game of Eye Spy, find out where the mascot hangs out during the game for a photo op, or take advantage of park offerings like batting cages, pitching games, playgrounds, and more.

For the Love of…Mud!

Thanks to the snowmelt and the arrival of spring showers, the grass and dirt outside have morphed into mud. You might be tempted to steer clear of it or stay inside, but you don’t have to. On the contrary, you can have a great time getting down and dirty with your kids—without worrying about ruining clothes, car mats, sneakers, and more. Here are four ways to embrace the muck and have some fun.

Become mud artists. Head outside and create castles and sculptures with your kids, using mud instead of sand or clay. Or grab some sturdy sticks and draw pictures in the mud. Ready for a new canvas? Simply smooth over the muddy surface with your hands or feet and draw again. Another option: Make whimsical mud prints on butcher paper with your hands and feet.

Become an explorer. Go to a local park or trail and search the mud for insects (or worms and snails) that emerge when the ground turns wet. Bring a magnifying glass and a measuring tape so you can study worms closely and check to see how long they are. You could even have a contest to see who can find the longest worm.

Make mud pies. Remember doing this as a kid? Here’s your chance to walk down memory lane with your young ones. Take small plastic containers outside and use them to make cakes, pies, and cookies with the mud. Find pretty stones, leaves, berries, and other treasures from nature that you can use to decorate them; display your creations in a mud-pie buffet.

Make clean-up a cinch. When you come inside, throw dirty clothes and muddy sneakers in the washer and let a tough stain fighter do the heavy lifting on stains. (Sensitive to dyes or perfumes? Use a booster that is fragrance- and color-free.) To remove muddy footprints from car mats or hall carpets, use a multi-purpose stain remover. This way, you’ll be able to savor your fun-in-the-mud memories without visual reminders of your dirt-filled day.

Running + Yoga: A Winning Combination

Do you dream of standing on the winner’s podium, draped in a flag with a medal around your neck? Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just lacing up for your first 5K, incorporating yoga into your workout routine can help you run faster, better, and more comfortably. “Yoga works the entire body, whereas running is very repetitious and uses the same muscles again and again—but yoga counteracts that, which can help prevent injuries,” says Jennifer Heister, a certified yoga instructor in New York City who runs marathons and half-marathons. Plus, “the breathing techniques [from yoga] are good for calming you, helping you build bigger lung capacity, making you more focused for races, and keeping your breathing under control so you can push yourself harder.” Practicing yoga can also improve your strength, balance, and flexibility, as well as giving you a mental escape from the daily grind—a winning formula, indeed.

Here’s how to incorporate yoga into your workout regimen effectively.

Learn the basics. If you’re starting your yoga practice from scratch, find a class near you where you can get familiar with the moves. There are also streaming videos or apps that teach beginner-level yoga. It’s important to learn how to pose properly and with the right alignment, not only to prevent injuries but also to maximize your benefits from the practice. Some yoga studios and gyms now offer classes specializing in yoga for runners.

Tailor the moves to your needs. Runners often have tight shoulders, hip flexors, and hamstrings, making certain poses especially beneficial. These include the Down Dog (which releases tension in the chest and shoulders), the Crescent Lunge (for the hips), the Forward Fold (for the hamstrings), and the Eagle and Tree poses (both of which strengthen and stretch the whole body). Restorative poses like Legs-Up-the-Wall and the Child’s Pose also ease muscle tension in the back, hips, and legs and promote relaxation. Don’t know how to do these poses? It’s easy to find illustrations and descriptions online.

Put time on your side. Take advantage of the perks of stretching after a run. “Yoga can ease soreness after running,” Heister notes. “The body becomes more malleable and you’ll find more ease in the poses,” which can help you attain a greater range of motion. Still, if you’re new to yoga, it’s wise to start slowly and heed certain precautions: Don’t push a stretch excessively or try the highest level of a pose. “Be mindful of your body and go easy on yourself,” Heister advises. 

Stretch your workout clothes. To keep your yoga gear clean and soft, use a detergent with a fabric softener every time you do laundry. Think of this as a way of giving your workout wear maximum (cleaning) power and freshness, the same qualities you want from your workout routine.

Resolutions Made Easy

If the thought of making New Year’s resolutions elicits a been-there-done-that attitude, take heart: This could be the year you stick with your plan—if you make all the right moves. These ideas will boost your chances of success.

Embrace the power of one. Life’s too hectic to make several changes at once. Pick one specific goal then figure out how to tackle it. Rather than resolving to simply lose weight or exercise more often, quantify the results you desire (the number of pounds you want to drop, how far you want to be able to run, or how many push-ups you want to be able to do). Then set a timeline for meeting it.

Help you help you. Be realistic. If you hate the gym, set up a circuit workout at home. Determined to write that novel? Make your workspace inviting and inspiring. Can’t get your chores under control? Stock household goods that make life more streamlined (like an all-in-one laundry detergent, stain-booster, and fabric softener).

Go public. Research suggests you’re more likely to stay accountable and succeed if you broadcast your goals to others. Post your progress on your favorite social network or create an online pinboard and invite your friends to motivate you.

Monitor yourself. There are tons of apps that will track your progress, whether your resolution is about fitness, spending less money, walking the dog more, or just about anything else. No question, viewing your progress is super satisfying.

Have a reward! No, this isn’t about giving you license to cheat. It’s about motivating yourself to stay the course. Smart: Pick a perk that’s in sync with your goal, like a massage for all those new muscles, or new workout clothes in fun bright colors. Yes, you deserve it!