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10 Gym Bag Essentials

Monday, March 03, 2014 Samantha Kirkpatrick

If you’re like me, you wait until your bag is so cluttered with junk that it’s begun to cultivate it’s own colony before cleaning it outThen there is the ritual dumping, where you throw out the gum wrappers and useless receipts; organize your strewed business/punch cards; and apply a fresh coat of the lip-gloss you thought you’d lost forever. Deciphering what lucky items make it back in your bag can be a challenge. If you’re unsure of what to pack in your gym tote, here are 10 essential items we should all keep on hand.

Towel.  Towel service is a luxury; one that I've rationalized paying extra for.  However, if your gym does not provide clean hand and shower towels, it is best to stock your own.  Just imagine a world where everyone wiped his or her sweaty residue off workout benches before moving on to the next machine.  

(Reusable) Water Bottle.  Not only does having your own personal water bottle significantly reduce your exposure to the bacterial lurking around the drinking fountain, but also having your thirst-quenching beverage just an arms-length distance away keeps your routine consistent.  Not to mention, staying hydrated throughout the day is essential to your overall health. 

Shaker Cup.  It’s important to replenish your burning muscles with protein immediately after your workout. A distant relative to the water bottle, the shaker cup with its large mouth and removable lid makes mixing and drinking protein easy. The people at BlenderBottle introduced their super convenient product, ProStak. Among its amenities the ProStak bottle comes with two removable jars to store your protein, pre-workout, vitamins and I.

Socks.  It never hurts to have an extra pair of clean socks around.  Whether you had a vigorous workout, showered and need a fresh set; or you came from work in your stockings - stashing a pair of socks will do nothing but relieve you.  Plus, they're nearly weightless so even if you never use them, they won't contribute to a heavy bag.  

Headphones.  This might be the most important accessory.  If for nothing other than to keep people from trapping you into an awkward conversation wherein you wind up simultaneously smiling, nodding and backing away.  

Music is largely responsible for my mood at the gym, so bringing headphones is vital.  My Bose in-ear sport headphones come with an inline remote and speaker allowing me to skip through my playlist and [ignore] answer phone calls. Needless to say, the sound is impeccable. Because they are so versatile I use my Bose throughout the day, and I inevitably leave them everywhere but my gym bag. For those panic-stricken moments when I realize I’ve forgotten my headphones, I’ve learned to pack a back-up pair. 

O'Neill.  Their uniquely designed fabric cord keeps the wires from tangling. I have a pair that has endured several accidental cycles in the wash.
Skullcandy. Affordable noise-cancelling headset for music and phone calls. 
Beats by Dre. While you may not consider these as your "back up," the brands increasing popularity makes them worthy of mention.
Panasonic RP-HJE355. This mouthful has a comfortable ear piece along with an adjustable cord to prevent tangling. Most importantly, their super affordable.

Sanitizer.  I hate to break it to you, but workout facilities are a cesspool of fungus and bacteria.  Any form of sanitizer is better than none.  Fortunately, most gyms are recognizing this bacteria issue and provide sanitizer dispensers along with disinfectant spray and paper towels.  If your gym doesn't provide these amenities, I highly suggest you [consider a new gym] bring wipes. Head to your nearest Target store and load up on travel size packets of disinfectant wipes. Keep them in your gym bag, your car, your purse, and your briefcase and then pass some out to everyone at the gym.

Deodorant.  Do I really need to explain this one?  Other than the fact that they keep you smelling remotely okay; keep a stick on hand for that morning you impetuously jolt out of bed, march into the gym full of pride for actually leaving the warmth of your sheets to expend your valuable energy, and suddenly realize you forgot to not smell bad.  

Lock.  There is no sense in stocking your bag with all of these essentials if you're not going to keep them safe.  Have your pick of all of the colorful ornate locks available to you.  But don't forget that those little flimsy ones are easy to break when a strong person, eager to use your valuables, rips off the locker door.  

Face Wash.  If you're going to sanitize your hands, might as well clean your gorgeous complexion.  Over washing your face can irritate your skin, so use a light cleanser to keep the dirt and sweat from clogging your pores and then moisturize.  Voila!  Healthy body, great skin.  

Sandals.  Suggesting that you pack a pair of athletic shoes is just about as constructive as telling you to bring car keys on your drive. If this wasn’t obvious to you then please invest in some supportive training shoes before you head to the gym and twist your ankle. What you might not have considered is a decent pair of flip-flops. Remember that part where I said fungus thrives in the gym? Well, it loves a hot shower too. Avoid athlete’s foot by wearing a pair of flip-flops in the locker room showers, saunas and steam rooms.

- Samantha Kirkpatrick
Lifestyle & Fitness Blogger 

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