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Now About that Gym Bag

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

When I first started packing a bag of clothing and items to take to the gym I was always coming from work. So I'd bring the clothes I was going to workout in. When I was working out at Curves they didn't have showers, so I'd go home in my workout clothes and shower. At first I just used plastic grocery bags, but then Curves had a special that included a bag. It was plastic lined with 2 compartments and a bunch of pockets. When I worked out at lunch I designated the compartments - one for clean, dry clothes and one for the sweaty stuff. A sink bath was less than ideal, though, so I rarely did that. The bag went through a lot over its lifespan of a couple years.

Later I joined the Y where there are wonderful showers. I often leave from home wearing what I'm going to workout in and take what I'll wear after my shower. Most of the time I can grab my bag and the things I need and be out of the house in 60 seconds. I almost always grab:

* a big towel. My favorite is an old beach towel that is very worn. It is big enough to wrap all the way around me for the walk from the shower to the dressing room modestly without taking up much space in my bag. I understand from some Spark articles that not all gyms foster modesty, but ours definitely does. No one walks around naked. I've only forgot my big towel once, but when I did I had an extra clean tee shirt and used it as a towel and cover-up.
*hand towel. Our Y used to give out small towels to wipe sweat as you workout. No longer. We now bring our own. If I forget I sometimes use my wash cloth and rinse it out well before the shower.
*wash cloth. I feel cleaner if I have a wash cloth. If I forget the wash cloth, I use my hand. I have also tried those net things and they are OK.
*panties - when I forgot my panties, ahum, I went commando. don't recommend it.
*bra - yes, once I forgot my bra and I wasn't going to put my sweaty sports bra back on and my nephew was expecting me at Weight Watcher shortly. So for the first time since the 60's I went bra-less and didn't think anyone would notice. Would you believe that was the day a member said to the group, "Just look at Marsha...." she's done so well blah blah blah and I'm slumping over -----
*shirt - usually a casual one that doesn't wrinkle bad, although the Y has an iron and ironing board. Don't think I've ever forgotten my shirt to wear home, but if I did I'd have no choice but to put back on my sweaty workout shirt
*short, capris, pants - depending on the season and where I'm going - again I don't think I've ever forgotten them, but I'd have to wear what I had, sweaty or not

So to pack my gym bag in 60 seconds I grab:
large towel, hand towel, washcloth, panties, bra, shirt, shorts and I'm out the door!

If I have a little more time, I fill a water bottle, too. If I don't, then I interrupt my treadmill or elliptical workout to run to the water fountain every quarter hour or so. I also often throw in a pair of Crocs or sandals, but I can wear my athletic shoes home. I save my running shoes primarily for running, but a walk to the parking lot doesn't use much shoe tread!

I keep a bunch of stuff at the bottom of the gym bag. The most important thing is the shampoo and conditioner. The Y has great foam soap and hair dryers, so don't have to worry about that. When I first started taking shampoo to the gym I used those little bottles left from motels. For a while I refilled those. What a mess! I learned to keep those bottles in a plastic sealed sandwich bag. Then I bought at the dollar store 3 ounce bottles that are meant to be re-filled and can be used on planes. They are so much easier to fill, but I do keep them in the sandwich bag just in case. They last about 6 shampoos. I rarely forget to refill them, but have learned if I forget shampoo I can use the foam soap on my hair just fine if I follow it with conditioner. If I don't have conditioner, forget it. I just rinse my hair and wash it soon.

After the Curves bag bit the dust, I used some older bags we had around that I didn't like near as much. Then in November of 2012 ONEKIDSMOM came and ran my first half marathon with me. Included in that HM fee was the cutest bright pink bag with palm trees, race info, and motivation. I loved that bag. It symbolized a great accomplishment to me. Even though I was used to pockets and sections to separate clothes, I got a lift every time I looked at that bag. Just had to use it. So I started bringing plastic bags to use as dividers inside the pink one. I brought home sweaty clothes in one bag and shoes in another. I started saving plastic bags that I liked, usually ones that came from the running store. The Lakeland Half Marathon didn't give out a big bag, but a small plastic bag that was just right for packing a banana, apple, or power bar or applesauce and raisins for Gwen. (The Disney Half Marathon gave out a net back pack that I use for my Gingers, my dancing shoes! It really isn't big enough for my gym bag.) When the pink bags' seams split, I switched to the blue half marathon bag. It functions the same as the pink one, but is less inspirational. Oh, well. Hoping I get a good one at either of my 2 upcoming HMs. We'll see. If not, I might even consider buying one! I strongly recommend a motivating gym bag!!

Usually in the bottom of my gym bag I have Band-Aids and medicine for my feet (splits due to psoriasis). I keep earphones because you can get music or TV with them on a lot of the Y equipment and often my MP3 player is in there, hopefully charged. I usually have deodorant, some safety pins leftover from race numbers but might need them, and a pen. When I'm swimming there are goggles and suit. I recently added a sandwich bag with 15 pennies for counting my speed intervals and a few dollars. I've yet to feed the vending machines at the Y, although they are claiming they have healthy food available now. I throw my car keys in the bag after scanning my YMCA tag.

And then I go to locker number 4. Why 4? Because it is my favorite size. Even though my weight is up a bit today (grrr-grrr) I'm fitting beautifully in my new size 4 jean shorts and that lets me know I may need to rein it in, but overall I'm still doing great!

So I consider the ability to pack a gym bag and be out the door in 60 seconds as a significant factor in my success. I've never been an organized person, but this little bit of planning pays off for sure.

And then occasionally I'll rebel --- just dash to the Y and workout in whatever I have on and drive home, feeling absolutely unfettered and spontaneous!!!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    great food for thought. tks for sharing
    1264 days ago
    I laughed when I read about your panties and bra! Nowadays I carry spares too. I also carry spare socks because one day I didn't have any and went without - never again, blisters for a week!

    I do my workouts at the office fitness center so I keep a duffle bag there with some basics and then I carry a bag on Mondays with my workout clothes for each day. Every night I carry the dirty ones home in another bag that I carry back and forth each night. I don't have any really inspirational bags yet but I did get a cute (smallish) one from the 5K training group that I just finished!
    1264 days ago
    1264 days ago
    Excellent tutorial of the basics! I have a plethora of available bags, thanks to several years of events... but I have two that I regularly keep at the ready. One is a swim workout bag. The other is my strength training bag.

    Both are classic zip gym bags (swim is pink, strength is our local minor league baseball team freebie).

    1264 days ago
    What a great story -- you've got this bag packing down to a science!!

    And yup, I've occasionally forgotten key items for dressing after the workout too . . .

    My Y has a small half locker that I can rent and leave some stuff there which helps a bit . . . like that . . . plus a towel service which is a good thing: I use four!!
    1264 days ago
    Wow, you are so organized!

    Love the bra's murphy's law, right?
    1264 days ago
  • LEWILL1982
    Great blog. I keep everything in my bag and it has lots of pockets too; extra clothes, bandaids, cold medicine, usually always an extra pair of socks and underwear, because I have forgotten both at times....

    1265 days ago
  • FROSTY99
    Would have liked to be a little mouse at WW. However, it is good to be organized and ready.
    1265 days ago
    well organised Marsha- something we have in common!
    1265 days ago
    Too funny! Thanks for sharing!

    I laughed out loud at your modesty comments. Our Y when we lived in MA, modesty in the locker room was not the norm. It didn't rile me, but it really riled my DW.
    1265 days ago
    Love this - I usually lug my stuff around in plastic bags but just got a gym bag and couldn't be more thrilled
    1265 days ago
    So organized and on top of things. All those years of experience. HUGS!
    1265 days ago
    Locker number 4 eh? Nice number!!! Nice blog!
    1265 days ago
  • _LINDA
    That is emoticon Well organized, yes indeed! Hope you get another nice bag!
    I use my little Curves cloth bag to carry my Zumba shoes, but for all workouts I wear my workout gear to and from and just shower at home. I have an old rubby jacket I wear when it gets cold so don't care if I smell it up. The only time I pack a kit is if I go into the hot tub after a class, but can't do that now with the PICC line -sure do miss it :-(
    Keep up the great work!
    1265 days ago
    I have several bags - and one in the car with running stuff: socks shoes sports bra t-shirt shorts bandana and band for my ponytail maybe a few clips for my bangs light jacket.....and a towel for the hot sweaty days so I don't ewwwww my drivers seat.

    Even with my best laid plans I have forgotten things:

    dired myself with paper towels after a shower etc.....

    I actually bought a bag recently!

    ps tip zip lock now sells giant sized zip locks - great for a wet towel and some wet or stinky clothes!
    1265 days ago
    Murphy's Law- the one day you go bra-less and are recognized at the Weight Watchers meeting. emoticon

    What a wonderful blog. An inspirational and charming read. I certainly hope you get your new inspirational gym bag at your next HM.

    1265 days ago
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