“There’s nothing worse than walking into a gym at 6 in the morning and it smelling like old sweat,” says Katrina Atienza, a manager and coach at fitness studio Session. That stale scent is perhaps even less pleasant when it’s coming from your gym at home — or whatever room is now pulling double duty as a yoga–slash–weight room–slash–living space during quarantine. To protect your nose, and the noses of whomever else you’re stuck with, from the sometimes unpleasant stench of an at-home workout, we asked Atienza and five other gym owners what they burn, spray, and diffuse to keep their own studios smelling fresh all day. From eucalyptus oil to grapefruit candles, here’s everything out experts recommend for a great-smelling home gym.
Best essential oils
Three of the six experts we spoke with recommended using essential oils, and essential-oil-infused products, because they both neutralize the smell of sweat and set a vibe. Ife Obi, founder of The Fit In: Bedford Stuyvesant, uses a blend of citrus and minty essential oils in her studio, because “these scents help with feeling replenished and able to tackle the workout when you enter the studios and the world when you leave.” One of the most popular scents among the experts we talked with is eucalyptus. According to Atienza of Session, eucalyptus smells “earthy yet bright and energizing — like pine trees with a hint of lemon, mint, and subtle sweetness.” They use it in cleaning products along with an occasional diffuser. But, she adds, “If you don’t have a diffuser, you can simply put a few drops of eucalyptus oil into a spray bottle, and add water to use as a room spray.”
Citrus essential oils were also very popular among the studio owners we spoke with, especially lemon oil. It’s another oil Obi uses to scent The Fit In, and there’s lemon oil, along with eucalyptus, in the diffusers at Stretch*d, an assisted stretching studio. According to Vanessa Chu, the co-founder and COO at Stretch*d, the lemon essential oil along with eucalyptus sets a “fresh and invigorating” tone and “makes the space smell clean, inviting, and not overpowering.”
If you don’t want to bother with your own custom blend, you can have a mix of eucalyptus and citrus scents with this expert-recommended detox spray. Called Dr. Schulze’s Air Detox, it’s used at both Pure Barre and 305 Fitness studios, and it’s packed with eucalyptus, grapefruit, lime, lemon, and orange essential oils. “It has a stimulating, fresh aroma that purifies the scent in the air using essential oils,” says Katelyn DiGiorgio, Pure Barre’s vice-president of training and technique. Sadie Kurzban, the founder and CEO of 305 Fitness, describes the blend as “calming and refreshing, with a little zing.” But she warns, “A little spritz goes a long way, and it detoxes and purifies the air, while leaving behind a just-cleaned scent.” DiGiorgio adds that “just one to three sprays fill the room since the essential oils are concentrated and smell so fresh.”
Mrs. Meyer’s, which makes our favorite drugstore candle and all-natural cleaning products that come recommended for their “addictive scent,” also makes a room-freshening spray that’s a go-to at CorePower Yoga. Christie Klach, a New York City–area leader for the hot-yoga studio, prefers the orange clove scent because it’s “strong and zesty” and “clears all the sweat smell out of the studio.” And if it’s good enough for a crowded hot-yoga studio, it’s likely good for your living sessions too.
Another popular way to eliminate the smell of sweat in a room, recognized by anyone who’s been to a SoulCycle studio, is candles. At SLT — the super-sweaty Megaformer-based workout class — they light up this (affordable) grapefruit-scented one from ScentSimple. Amanda Freeman, SLT’s founder and CEO, says, “It masks any yucky workout smells well, without being too strong or noticeable.” Plus, Freeman says it creates a more calming and pleasant environment, too, like essential oils. At the studio, they burn up to two candles a day, but if you’re only working out for an hour each day, this candle’s 40-hour burn time should last you a little longer.
In addition to essential oils, Obi also recommends this cleansing bundle from WTHN for the same inner and outer boost, especially while working out from home. “The bergamot candle and the spray has the citrus smell like our lemon and orange blossom oils to help with boosting energy levels. Especially when it’s so tempting to just stay in bed, versus putting your feet on the ground and moving,” she says. In addition to the candle and spray, this kit comes with palo santo, which is one of Taryn Toomey’s home workout essentials, too. She lights it before she works out and says it “feels very grounding, earthy, and very comforting.”
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