Planning when and where you will workout each day is a great way to make a routine stick. But sometimes, a little spontaneity can help keep boredom at bay. It’s good to switch things up a bit, and sometimes that means being in the moment and working out when an opportunity presents itself. For example, maybe a friend wants to try a new yoga class in the evening, or after sitting in meetings all morning, you need to move around in the fresh air during your lunch hour. Even though you may not have penciled either of these activities into your schedule, all you need is a prepacked gym bag waiting with the basics.
If you use a gym bag now, it’s likely filled with items for a specific purpose. If you’re a strength trainer, your bag might contain lifting straps and gloves, a towel as a barrier between you and the gym bench, a water bottle, and lifting shoes. However, those items won’t get you far if you want to go for a late morning hike, some laps in the pool, or a Pilates class at night. Instead you need a pinch hitter bag–one that can step in at a moment’s notice and respond to whatever you throw its way.
Such a bag may seem as though you may have to carry around your entire home within, but by following the proved packing list, you can have a bag that’s got just about everything you need and isn’t a workout to haul it around.
Footwear: Sneakers are a must. Try to choose a cross-training pair that can accommodate a lot of different styles of activities. If you choose a barefoot style shoe, you can avoid having to pack a pair of socks. Also include a pair of cheap flip-flops for use around pools and in showers.
Clothing: Pack options that are versatile. For example, if you’re a runner, skip the shorts and opt for a pair of capri leggings that could work well in a yoga studio, on a trail, in a gym, or on a bike. Be sure to include clothes that can be layered for warmth. A thermal fitted shirt and a zip-up fleece will consume less bag space than an all-weather jacket. Plus, both can be worn separately in response to the temperature outdoors or indoors.
Food and Water: Just because you choose a noon kettlebell class, doesn’t mean you have to miss a meal. Pack some nonperishable foods to snack on when you’re workout is over. Fill up a water bottle from your bag, and you’ll be able to get right back to your day without hunger and dehydration interruptions.
Towels: Look for compact microfiber towels that absorbant but conserve on space. Pack one body size towel for after pool and showers, one hand-size towel for sweat catching, and one face towel for washing up in a hurry.
Toiletries: Most personal care products come in travel-size, which is perfect for saving space. Use your daily routine as inspiration for what items are essential for you. Some to consider:
- Hair Products: brush, comb, dry shampoo, hair spray, headband, hair tie
- Cosmetics: makeup in neutral colors that can be create a go-to quick look
- Cleansers: body soap, wet wipes, hand sanitizers
- Scents: deodorants, light-scented body mists
- Oral care: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
- Cotton balls and cotton swabs
First Aid: A little blister can be a big pain and can slow you down. Respond to these, and other minor aches and pain with:
- bandages and tape
- pain reliever
- a plastic bag (use it to ice an injury or to store a wet swimsuit)
Good Gear: While not necessarily essential to everyone, some gear might be a must for you when working out. Can you only run if you have music? Pack an mp3 player and some headphones. Are you going to be worried about getting to an appointment on time? Pack a watch with a timer? Will your exercise be interrupted by concern of locker room theft? Pack a lock. Need a quick and easy warm up? Pack a jump rope. Figure out what it is you need, and stash it away.
Avoid packing items that are big and bulky that could be rented for a cheap fee instead. For example, a yoga mat can take up a lot of space, and are usually available for a few dollars in the studio. If you make the class a habit, pack the mat. Otherwise save the space to keep your options open.
What is a must in your gym bag? Share with us in the comments!