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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Don't Tap to Staph: A Primer on Hygiene

This post sponsored by Defense Soap. Offense wins matches, Defense keeps you on the mat.
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Respect for your training partners, and gym, begins with your personal hygiene. Regardless to whether you’re still spazzing out on the mats, or still talking too much when rolling, your training partners are going to notice your body odor, bad breath, skin condition(s), and/or hacking cough way before your other bad training habits (Just like the time And you found ‘the stinky guy’ of your gym—and if you haven’t, it’s coming). As you've—no doubt—found out by now, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a very close-contact sport; where you’re in contact with your training partner and training surface at all times. But your personal hygiene is about more than just splashing on some after shave, or popping in a piece of gum before you walk into the gym. You have to take care of yourself, your training gear, and ultimately your training partners. In this blog post I’m going to point out a few up-front issues, skin conditions and how to try to prevent them, and what makes Defense Soap so cool.

A few points to make sure you’re covered on before you get in the gym are:
  •             Fingernails/Toenails- Are they trimmed down enough that they won’t cut or scratch your training partners or hold any dirt? If not, you need to take care of that before you ‘suit up.’
  •             No shoes on the mat! (Ever)
  •             Pre-workout Cleanliness- Please do not come straight from replacing a sewer pipe to the gym—or any other activity that might call for you to get a shower immediately after. Yes, you will need to shower after, but don’t be gross.
  •             Breath- We’ll all come with coffee-breath once in awhile, but try to be considerate. As crazy as it sounds, a lot of athletes will still use tobacco products, too, that will leave your breath coming out real harsh into your training partner’s face. Go the extra mile and brush up, or at least hit a mint before you hit the mat.
  •              Clean/Fresh Training Clothes- Wear a new gi to class, not the unwashed one you wore to the previous class. Same goes for all training clothes. Wash them. They’re gross.
  •             Hair Product- We’re going to sweat. Your hair product is going to mix with your sweat and get on your training partner and the training surfaces; and that’s not cool. As your training partner, I've already accepted some things, but when hair product gets in your eyes it stings and can lead to worse issues. Plus, you don’t know who’s allergic to what 

Now those things are probably pretty obvious, but what’s less obvious is avoiding skin conditions. Skin conditions (Ringworm, Impetigo, MRSA, etc), bacterial, and viral infections are all things that you could pass on to your training partners (and then ultimately their families) and training surfaces if you’re not taking the proper measures of prevention. The first line of defense is not training when you’re infected—with anything. If you’re sick, please, stay home. But in addition to spreading your germs on your partners, you’re going to be transferring it to the training surface(s) as well. Think of all the training equipment that you use that you might not usually wash (headgear, grappling dummies, support braces, the inside of your gym bag, even flip flops) that will host those germs until they can latch onto some other unfortunate soul all because you just had to hit the mat. I do believe in my heart of hearts that gyms do keep their facilities clean, but what good is a clean mat if you’re rolling with someone who’s carrying some nasties on them? 
“But, Jesse, I wash my hands all the time!” and I bet you do that with anti-bacterial soap, too, don’t ya—and that’s part of the problem. Using anti-bacterial soap kills the natural flora (the good germs) on your skin that fight off the bad germs when they come looking to ruin your day; and it doesn’t kill fungi like the kind you get with Ringworm. So when all of the bacteria on your skin is dead, and your nicely washed clean hand makes contact with something that can host some bad germs, the bad germs just take over because you killed all of your good troops—good job. Crazy to think right—but it’s true. So how do you stay clean without killing off your entire good flora? The answer is: Defense Soap.

     Defense Soap cleans your skin and kills all of the bad germs while keeping your natural flora safe, happy, and intact ready for war. By using a form of alchemy known only to the good people of Defense Soap, they combine essential oils into a wonderful concoction that not only kills the bad germs that can cause skin problems, but it smells great as well. So when you get home from your training session, you’d want to shower with something that’s not going to ruin your body’s natural defense systems and then compromise your health.
So, in keeping with White Belt Survival tradition, please be clean when you get to the gym, bring clean gear to train in, and clean both yourself and your gear when you get home.

A special Thank you to Defense Soap for sponsoring this week's post, go to to keep clean, stay clean, and keep on the mat; and to the winner of the giveaway contest, Thomas Beckett

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