Have you ever gotten to the gym or your fitness class and realized while furiously digging through your gym bag, “crud, I left ______ at home!”? Yup, been there, done that! It’s always a little disappointing when the realization hits you that you’ve left something critical at home; or in the car, or that whatever it is is simply lost to the gym Gods forever. However, that’s why I’m here – to help you easily maintain a well packed gym bag so you’re always ready to crush the day no matter what challenges you face!
#1 – Hair Ties/Elastics
Ladies, am I right? I find that after a long 8 hour day of wearing perfectly coiffed hair at the office that the last thing on my mind is having something to wear it up with at the gym. I find that by keeping a small zip lock bag or stress ball with elastics wrapped around it in my gym bag not only saves space but also prevents the whole un-cute drowned rat look on your way home. #BestTip: Always double check your hair tie stash. If you only have three left in your bag, replenish!
#2 – Back-up Deodorant
Personal hygiene is huge when mingling with others – especially at the gym, because let’s face it no one likes working out next to a “garbage can”. I find that by keeping a travel sized stick of deodorant in my gym bag helps ebb any sleeping B.O. that may rear its smelly head mid-workout. If you’ve already applied for the day, it never hurts to reapply a little just before for added freshness. #BestTip: aim for a solid, as gels will melt if left in a hot car!
#3 – Resistance Bands
I personally keep two resistance bands in my gym bag at ALL times; one long handled tubular band and one circular infinity band. Why? Because they’re extremely lightweight, easily mobile and are also extremely versatile in their degree of workout functionality. I also like to have my own bands for classes like strength training and boot camps that may include them in the WOD; there is no worry about whether there is enough equipment and I know what I’m working with without question or concern of overloading my resistance weight during the class. Resistance bands are extremely inexpensive and can be found in multiple stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, or anywhere online. #BestTip: Look for a band that is between a light to medium heavy weight or 3-8 lbs as most group classes don’t use a “heavy” weight band.
#4 – Snacks
So this one will apply differently to each individual as far as your specific likes and dislikes and how you plan your meals and snacks throughout the day. As a fitness professional I try to keep snacks in my gym bag for one of two important reasons – one I’m personally low on fuel and need a pick-me-up before class; or two, I have a class participant who has a medical condition that may require quick nutrition to get them feeling themselves quicker.
A good rule of thumb is to eat a light protein packed snack at least 30 minutes before your scheduled workout. Doing this will allow your body ample time to digest and absorb the needed nutrients to give you the energy boost needed to power through your workout. For me, I typically keep a small bag of trail mix or a protein bar and for class participants a honey oat granola bar with no added frills like candy or nuts in the event of food allergies.
#5 – Spare Workout Clothes
You didn’t wake up with the intention of going to the gym, but it’s been a stressful week and your work bestie just invited you to her favorite Zumba class at 6pm. Not to worry though, you have an extra set of gym clothes in the car ready to go! #BestTip: If you happen to WEAR your spare outfit, immediately put a new one in when you get home so you’ll never fall short if it happens again.
Am I missing something? Feel free to comment, and let me know what essentials you keep in your gym bag!