If there’s one thing that can deter me from going to the gym, it’s when I’ve not prepared well enough to go. I used to let this stop me from working out ALL the time. I made up all kinds of excuses so that I could give myself “permission” to slack off for a “valid” reason.
“I can’t possibly go to the gym before work, because then I’d have to get up way earlier and I want to sleep in. I SHOULD sleep in, because sleep is SO important, after all. Right?”
“I also can’t go before work because, then I’d have to, like, pack up ALLLLLL the make up and hair products and bring them with me to get ready.” (Way too much effort, obvs.)
“I definitely can’t go after work – because I really need that family time, you know? My husband and I need to have dinner and talk and relax. I really need to relax – it’s important for my overall health.”
You know what happens to your “overall health” if you don’t stay active? IT DIES.
(Well, okay. It doesn’t “die” per se. It’ll get worse, though. You aren’t contributing to your “overall health” much if you aren’t even moving your body regularly!!!!)
So anyway, to make an obnoxiously long and life-changing-realization story short, I’ll just tell you what I do now to overcome those excuses. Kay?
I pack a really kick-ass gym bag, and then I stay on top of that shit.
(I know. I am SUCH a genius.)
In case you were wondering (you were, weren’t you?), here are the things I pack in my gym bag that help me to stay accountable to my regular gym visit schedule. And like, I think I have a pretty good handle on this, since making sure your gym bag is kick-ass is really important when you’re a fitness instructor. You can’t show up without your batteries. You just can’t.
Don’t let a poorly packed gym bag be the reason you aren’t making it into the gym at all.
1. Gym Bag
Well you need a bag if you’re gonna pack it up real nice! I’ve recently come across a great Canadian-made company that makes excellent purse and bag options specifically for busy “on-the-go” working (and working out!) moms. This bag from Poppy & Peonies seriously trumped the lululemon bag I have been using for years. (Sorry, lulu. It isn’t personal, or anything. I’ll still probs spend my entire pay check on your clothes next week. It’s cool.) Not only does it have more space, but it’s just generally better in construction and organization, too. It is sturdy and eye-catching; not your typical boring black gym bag, but still neutral enough to keep in line with my personal style and match with anything I wear. It has not one, but TWO waterproof compartments that are very helpful pour moi – because I am uber sweaty. So, you need to find yourself a bag that will hold everything that is essential for you to bring with you. (Go ahead and take a peek at Poppy & Peonies options HERE.)
(P.S. My friend Adrienne is an advocate of Poppy & Peonies and they have some really great day-to-day products, too. More than just gym bags! If you want to have a fun girls night, book a no-pressure party with Adrienne and she will seriously hook you up! Check out her Facebook page to find out more.)
2. Toiletries (KEPT IN SEPARATE BAG)
Contrary to popular belief, you really don’t need EVERY single make up and hair product known to man to be able to successfully shower and make yourself look presentable after a workout. You just don’t. At my gym, there’s shampoo and conditioner in every shower stall. Boom. (They aren’t salon-quality products, guys, to be clear – but they get the job done. Whatever.) So there’s something I already can omit from my toiletry bag. I keep the basics in a medium sized bag and replace things as they run out.
Here’s what’s in my toiletry bag – most are travel-sized items that I replace as necessary.
Leave-in conditioner spray (because, I told you, the shampoo and conditioner sitch isn’t perfect)
Travel-sized mousse and hairspray
Dry shampoo (is life)
Deodorant (natural, if possible)
Tinted moisturizer (any brand, but if you want to know, I use a mix of LUSH cosmetics celestial moisturizer, and light brown tinted foundation. Pre-mixed myself. Less chemicals.)
Lip balm (made my own, will post about it soon)
Hair elastics, bobby pins and a headband
3. Flip flops
If you’re going to shower, you need these. In fact, these should probably be number 1. Don’t go in there with bare feet, okay? Please. PLEASE.
3. Music, tools and other technology (KEPT IN SEPARATE BAG)
This will vary, depending on what you need to workout. I definitely need a) my iPod and b) headphones. This means I also need c) an arm-band to hold my iPod so I am hands-free while training. Because I’m a fitness instructor, I also need d) batteries, e) an AUX cord, f) backup batteries, g) backup music (CDs), and h) my microphone belt (which is questionably close to a fanny pack, but it’s necessary. It doubles as an iPod holder in a pinch.)
To keep things organized, all of the above things are kept in a separate zippered bag, like the toiletry bag. I know exactly where all my music “stuff” is at all times, and I make sure to put everything back where it belongs after I workout or teach a class. It’s an ongoing project – this isn’t going to work if you just chuck everything into the gym-bag abyss afterwards. Take 3 seconds and put your headphones back in the bag with your iPod, would ya? Geeze.
4. Snacks et al (KEPT IN SEPARATE BAG)
Re-fueling after you train is very important. You should get something into your system within at least 30 minutes after your workout. To make sure I don’t mess this up, I keep a bag (yes, ANOTHER bag. Sue me.) specifically for food and other things I eat. In it, I keep the following things stocked at all times:
Protein powder (your choice, I use this)
BCAA powder (ditto, here’s my fav)
Almonds/nuts and apricots (see here for my healthy snack supply how-tos)
Smart Sweets (because did I mention healthy gummy bears?!?! In all seriousness though, I don’t use these to improve or enhance my workout, or to re-fuel – I just always have them on hand so that I have something sweet to snack on in the event that I’m feeling like making an impulse buy somewhere. With these, I know exactly what I’m getting, and it isn’t a lot of sugar. I can’t say the same about a coffee-shop donut that I didn’t need.)
I usually reserve the Quest bars for post-workout because of the high protein/low sugar content. Larabars are better for pre-workout, they have less protein and more (natural) sugar. I sometimes find myself heading to the gym several hours after my last meal, so I will eat a larabar in a pinch on the way to make sure I’m not completely depleted of energy.
I put my protein powder and BCAA powder in containers that hold several servings. This one is actually for baby formula, but it works just as good for protein! (HA! That’s something I’d never have thought of before having a baby!) This one comes with my shaker cup and fits right on the bottom of the bottle, so it doesn’t take up any additional space.
5. Additional workout “stuff” (And maybe there’s another bag…)
a) Peppermint oil (pre workout)
This is a great natural alternative to taking a pre-workout supplement. I used to use a pre-workout, which is designed to help you get energized for your workout. Peppermint oil can help you do the exact same thing. My friend and fellow fitness enthusiast from KeepFit Women got me onto peppermint oil as a pre-workout, and I have started using it regularly. (She has a lot of other great tips too… you should probably go like her page!)
b) Panaway oil blend (post workout)
This is a natural alternative to ruba535 – it smells awesome and is a blend of purely natural essential oils. It is great for use after a workout, or for a muscle strain or injury. It was very helpful for me after suffering a knee injury in combination with rest and ice. This was also recommended by my gal pal from KeepFit Women. (Just go watch one of her videos. You will feel like you’re BFFs right away.)
c) Grizzly lifting straps
There comes a time where you are strength training and you’ll suddenly feel like you could lift more weight if your hands were just a liiiiittle bit stronger. Especially when I’m training my back, these straps come in real handy. I’ve only recently added them to my gym bag. If you’re working hard at lifting weights, these may come in handy at some point. Optional, obvs.
d) Running shoes (duh)
e) Cycling shoes (only if you are a regular “spinner” – I am. They make a difference)
f) Shaker cup (for my BCAAs during my workout, and then for my protein shake immediately after workout.)
g) I also keep a verrrrry small bag that houses my business cards, and some coins (quarters and loonies, mostly) in case I need to… purchase anything. Ladies, you know what I mean. Having a few extra quarters kicking around doesn’t hurt.
So basically, my gym bag is just a bag full of other, smaller bags. It’s very organized.
Go to the dollar store and find a few different sized zipper bags. If you’re in Canada, I found a 3 pack of bags for about $3 at dollarama. It has made my gym bag SO MUCH BETTER.
Let your gym bag be happy too. #bagsforlife
Do you have any other tips or tricks for organizing your gym crap? Please, do tell. I wanna hear. Write a comment below. Like, right there. Yup, that’s the spot! DO IT!
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