Scent your Sweat

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Mmmm, not the most tasteful title for a blog post.

So eighteen months ago, I moved home, and there is NO affordable gym in my area unless your thing is body building and buckets of whey powder. Ok there’s one, but it’s women only.

This has resulted in a home exercise regime of DVDs and free online films. They have to be hardcore, so unfortunately this glorious piece of retro joy doesn’t really cut it, as wonderful as the leotards are:

No, it’s all about the bootcamp routines of crazy American trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. The titles are extreme: ‘Ripped in Thirty’, ‘Thirty Day Shred’, ‘Totally Ripped Core’, ‘Pure Strength’ etc etc. And one of Jillian’s favourite motivational phrases is “I want to bounce a quarter off your butt.” For a good few months I thought she was saying she wanted to balance the quarter on my butt, at which point I’d command, “be still my quaking glutes”. Either way, the routine works rather well.

I love wearing perfume when I exercise, possibly even more than on a night out. The other week I bumped into someone who’d been to some of the Scratch+Sniff nights, and she showed me the scent she wears at Pilates, which is L’Occitane’s Green Tea and Jasmine. She puts it on her wrists so that she can distract herself during those horrendous last few seconds of the plank.

Now discontinued but there are a few on Amazon ($47).

I have deployed a similar technique by spraying a very complex scent on my tummy. It wafts up when I’m in the hell of a down-dog-tricep-press, so prompting a moment of me sniffing myself trying to work out what new facet I’m smelling. A few pushups go by in no time. Guerlain’s Mitsouko works very well for this. After about 4 hours the Eau de Parfum is so delicious and intriguing, you’ll forget your muscles are about to give way.

The best price I can find online for the Eau de Parfum is £53.99 at Fragrance Direct.

I also think there is something in wearing a perfume that is incongruous with physical exertion. Forget your herby, green bits and bobs and wear something that is the complete antithesis of the situation. I have had great times with What Katie Did at Weekends from 4160 Tuesdays, which evokes Edwardian sweet shops, porcelain dolls with ringlets, and parma violets – ie. a sedentary life of picnics and parasols. Wearing it reminds me that this period of torture will soon be over, and that I can soon resume making my way through that box of Guerlain seashells.

What Katie Did at Weekends is annoyingly no longer for sale, but you can ask 4160 Tuesdays if they’ll make some for you.

Sometimes, when motivation really is flagging, and I spend my time gazing at the amount of makeup Jillian manages to pile on under those studio lights, rather than doing the moves, I need the fragrance equivalent of a personal trainer; something lean, mean and shouty. At times like these, only Bandit will do.

Bandit: it won’t do your situps for you, but it will terrify you into action. From £41.99.

Finally, when it comes to the reward part – after the exercise, when the macaroni cheese is bubbling on the stove – there’s nothing like a good swipe of peppery, aromatic Tiger Balm to make everything alright again. And if your exercise failed and you ended up lying on the sofa watching the instructor, this creates the clever trick of suggesting you exerted yourself after all. And we all know how effective the placebo effect is.

Copyright Odette Toilette © 2016