Problems on the Path to Fitness Problem #3: Working Out with Bling

People can be funny when it comes to working out with jewelry (“bling”) on but sometimes it makes me cringe, seeing visions of Final Destination-style freak accidents happening which involve someone losing a finger or worse.

I have one athlete who wears large diamond earrings when she runs a race because “they make [her] faster.” Since running is a solo, non-contact, zero-equipment activity, I give her a pass on his one (so carry on, Beth). I’m also not talking about shoe bling (pictured on my kicks above) because I think we can all agree that shoe bling is absolutely essential and poses no real safety concerns (other than the occasional blinding sun glare reflecting upward and temporarily blinding you). What I’m really referring to here is necklaces, bracelets, and rings while engaged in contact sports, high-movement activities or while using free weights, weight machines, and other fitness equipment.

For the past few years, I’ve been removing my wedding band when I do anything with weights or pull-up/monkey bars. It started as a means of keeping the ring from being damaged due to all that metal-on-metal action until one day I forgot to take it off and I jumped up to grab the bar above me and pain shot through my hand as I dropped to the ground (hello tailbone). For the next few days, I nursed (a sore tush and) the nastiest blood blister at the base of my ring finger where the skin got pinched between the bar and the ring. Ouchie doesn’t even begin to cover that.

Since then, I’ve seen it all and my injury above was very mild compared to some. I believe for many folks it’s only a matter of time, call it survival of the fittest (no pun intended). I’m really not an overly-paranoid or dramatic person when it comes to this sort of thing but, all the same, in this month’s installment of “Problems on the Path to Fitness”, we talk about what you should be aware of when deciding whether or not to rock that rock (or other jewelry) during a workout…consider yourself warned!

  1. It’s not safe. Like I said above, not to get all Chicken Little on you but you should know that stuff really can go wrong here. It’s impossible for me to lay out ALL the injury potential that exists but here’s a few examples to help you get the point:
  • Necklaces and bracelets have been known to get caught in machines or on shelves while leaning over to change a weight or set down a dumbbell
  • Necklaces and long, dangly earrings can swing up and hit you in the face causing scratches to your skin or worse (protect those precious eyeballs!)
  • Moving around a lot while wearing heavy earrings can stretch and damage your earlobes
  • Even the smallest pointy edge can get caught on clothes or equipment and get yanked on (or pulled off)
  • Wearing rings while holding weights can lead to skin pinching (like my bar jump story above)
  • If you are wearing a helmet during activity, any contact with you or your helmet (for stud earrings) can cut or puncture your skin on impact
  • Earrings can also get tangled in your hair, hat and/or helmet straps
  • Jewelry on your hands and wrists can affect your ability to grip the weights and equipment – think smashed toes, etc.
  • For longer duration workouts, it can get really uncomfortable if your hands swell due to circulation changes during activity
  1. It’s not good for the jewelry. So it’s not safe for you. But for those of you who read #1 and thought “Yeah, but what are the odds…”, know that it’s not safe for your jewelry either and the odds are pretty much 100% that sporting it regularly during workouts will cause some form of damage to your precious bling (very problematic if the item has sentimental value attached to it) such as:
  • Most gemstones can take a beating (except stones like pearls and opals) but impact can still chip or fracture the stones along the grain, especially after repeated impact has weakened the grain over time
  • Some stones can actually discolor in the sun
  • The precious gems are being held in by small metal prongs so stones can get knocked out of the setting and make a break for it easier than you’d think
  • Ring bands get bent, pitted and banged up from contact with dumbbells, barbells, other metals, gripping a bat or paddle, or even holding onto handrails on cardio equipment
  • Once the band becomes even slightly bent, there is a good chance of loosening the setting and losing the stone
  • Certain metals can rust or tarnish from sweat or water
  • Chlorinated water can cause pits in your precious metals (even gold and silver)
  • It can get lost and depending on the item, that may not be worth the risk
  1. It’s pretty gross. If the thought of dried sweat caked onto your favorite ring or studs isn’t enough to put you off this practice, consider this: chlorine and sweat will cause your bling to lose its brilliance. So be sure to clean your jewelry regularly. Precious metals and most gemstones can be cleaned with mild soap, warm water and a soft brush. Remember, it’s not bling if it doesn’t shine!

In my book and in my training sessions, safety always trumps fashion PERIOD. But if you truly love that bling enough to never want to take it off, why would you put such a beloved item through the ringer every day like this- dulling its brilliance and risking potential loss or damage? Ask yourself, if it’s really worth the risk. You may just have to find some other way to sparkle during your workouts!

Be safe, protect your precious bling, and keep rocking out those workouts for years to come.