Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pack It - All You Need In A Gym Bag

Going to the gym is a near daily experience, for me. My gym visits are normally scheduled and adhered to, and there are also times when I find an empty hour in my day that affords me an impromptu workout. The key to doing this successfully is having everything you need in your gym bag, and having that gym bag in your car.

To begin with, you need to have a bag that you assign as your gym bag. It can be any bag that works for you, but I highly suggest it be roomy enough to fit workout clothes, socks and sneakers, and has a zipper so your stuff doesn't fall out.

My bag is packed with everything I need to get through nearly any gym workout. You may wish to copycat, so I will break it all down for you, along with why I pack what I pack.

As mentioned earlier, you've got to have workout clothes in your bag. I keep clean, black yoga pants and two black t-shirts (one short sleeve, one long) in my bag, along with a pair of clean ankle socks and sneakers. The short sleeve goes on first, the long sleeve goes over it until I get warmed up. I also keep deodorant in my bag, and apply it before my workout. I have either mints or Listerine Pocket Packs, for fresher breath, and some lip balm (because I am obsessed with soft lips). For my hair, I keep a pack of hair elastics so that I can put it up at a moment's notice. And if you lift, I recommend you keep your lifting gloves in your bag. Mine are Nike Dri-FIT Elite Fitness Gloves. I like them because they are adjustable at the wrist, and are slightly padded. They have really helped to minimize my callouses.

Every night, I bring my gym bag into the house to take out the dirty clothes and repack clean ones, recharge my iPod (if necessary), and clean out and refill my water bottle. I use a SIGG, and I highly suggest you use a SIGG or klean kanteen, as both are good for the planet (less waste) and good for you (BPA-free). Everything else remains, unless it needs to be thrown out or refilled. If I anticipate a very busy day ahead, I might stock my bag with a Power Bar or a bag of almonds.

I keep my Manduka yoga mat separate, in it's own wonderful bag. I got both the mat and the bag at my favorite yoga studio, Prana Yoga. The mat is super thick, and is probably one of my best fitness investments, to date.

Now, style isn't everything. Function over form, and if money is tight or your practical sensibility draws you towards using a bag you already have, that's great. I personally love having a bag that is not only functional but looks good, too. My new favorite bag is the Lululemon Lucky Tote (as shown). It was $98 but is now on sale for just $49 at lululemon.com. The bag has nice (removable) shoulder straps, a main compartment with zipper, an exterior water bottle pocket, an iPod pocket, and a small pocket with an inside zipper to store some fast cash and your gym membership card. The liner is water resistant so you needn't worry if your water bottle spills a bit, or your sweaty spin shirt moistens the bag (20" x 15" x 8.5").

Being prepared is the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you always have healthy food and snacks around you, it becomes much easier to eat well. If you always have a full water bottle, it's easier to stay hydrated. And if you're gym bag is beautiful and well-packed, it will be much easier to get yourself to the gym and support your fit lifestyle.

Just remember to put it in the car.

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