You know those workout commercials where people look so good while working out. They’re smiling and posing, muscles rippling, beads of sweat falling gently. You can almost feel the pleasant endorphins emanating through the screen.
I am anything but that when I workout.
My face turns beet red. I breathe like a lawnmower rattling to life. I sweat like a lying Congressman. I mean I sweat. Here look at this photo of me after running a backyard half-marathon in the freezing cold.
Yes, that is caked-on sweat well after my run, which again, was in the cold.
But I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never really had any desire to study my sweat. It sort of just is. It was something that happened. Sweat mostly made me want to take a shower.
But then Gatorade came out with a sweat patch and it was just odd enough to make me curious. Did I want to study my sweat? Sure, why not. Let’s get a little gross.
What is a sweat patch?
Simply put it’s well…a patch — think like the thing smokers use to quit — that adheres to your inner left forearm. As you workout, swirling colorful lines fill up, which means the is collecting your sweat and data. When you’ve finished your workout, you scan the patch into an app, which then gives you a readout on your sweat data.
From there, Gatorade says, the app “combines aggregated data from health and fitness apps with 35-years of research by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute to create actionable recommendations that help athletes meet their training goals and perform their best.”
Gatorade sent me a couple of patches to try out as well as some Gatorade pods — which effectively mix the concentrate with water to make Gatorade — a fancy bottle, and a towel. I guess this was all to support my hydration.
I first tried a patch with a difficult Peloton workout, which is my primary form of exercise this day. And what is a more 2021 workout than a Peloton ride? I planned out 45 minutes’ worth of classes and got started.
The patch was perfectly comfortable and it was kind of neat to watch the lines move as I worked out. About halfway through my ride, I had moved the lines quite a bit. By the end of my ride, I was pouring sweat and the lines had snaked to fill nearly the entire patch. Here’s what that progression looked like — the orange line is sweat levels, the purple line is sodium levels.
And if you couldn’t tell what kind of workout it was, here is my very sweaty, oversized mug after the ride. (Gross, I know.)
Once I toweled off my buckets of sweat, I scanned the patch using the Gx app. It’s super easy, like scanning any QR code, really. From there, the app takes a moment to process before giving you a readout.
Take a look:
Flipping through the results pages, apparently, I lost around 67 ounces of fluid in the workout. My sweat rate of 2,626 ml/hr was high, as were my sodium levels. Gatorade recommended I recover with 31 grams of protein and 74 ounces of fluid by day’s end.
My response was basically: Hmm, neat. I guess it’s kind of cool that they gave me a recommended recovery. But also, what in the ever-loving-hell do those sweat rate and sodium rates mean? Gatorade’s app really doesn’t offer many details; it just spits numbers out.
A two-pack of patches retails for $25. Is it really worth $25 to get some random numbers about your sweat and recommendations that basically amount to eat some protein and drink a bunch of fluids? That’s pretty intuitive.
I took a second patch out for a spin a few days later, this time for a short, light jog. I ran just over 2 miles at a pace designed to recover from an earlier Peloton class. I figured it might be interesting to see how I sweat during an easier workout in cool temperatures. Here’s how the patch looked before and after the run, as well as an image of my post-workout readout.
After I swiped through my fluid loss and sweat rate page, the Gx app then recommended I eat 31 grams of protein and drink 60 ounces of fluid by day’s end to aid recovery.
The thing is: I didn’t necessarily find the recommendations and data all that useful. I saw how much fluid I lost, I saw my sodium content, and I saw Gatorade’s recommendations. OK, so workout, then drinks a bunch of fluid and eat some protein. Fair enough, but not really wildly new ideas.
I’m just not sure the Gx patch is for most people. The Gx app isn’t super well-built. It’s awkward to navigate to your profile, requiring a couple of non-obvious clicks. You also manually enter workouts which then get paired with corresponding patch data. But that workout history is also kind of difficult to navigate from the app’s home screen. And the patch data itself is limited to what I’ve included in screenshots.
I think the patch could be helpful if you’re training for a marathon — or something similar — because it might be nice to get a baseline for how much water and electrolytes you’re losing in long runs. Basically, if you’re training quite seriously and feel like you’re not recovering well enough, the patch might provide a nice data point.
But for the vast majority of folks, I don’t see the patch’s appeal. We simply work out and drink water intuitively, I’m not sure a patch readout is necessary. For serious athletes, it may provide a nice alternative to more expensive, perhaps more detailed, products. And the patch isn’t detailed enough to really be worth buying as a curiosity.
But hey, at least if nothing else, the Gx patch has confirmed to me that yes, I do sweat a lot. Of course, I already knew that because I own a mirror.