I have always been (and most definitely always will be) a pack-your-bag-the-night-before kinda person. I’m not talking about pre-holiday suitcase packing, which can take weeks of preparation, I’m talking about the “making sure you have everything ready in your schoolbag so that you’re not rushing about finding your planner and pencil case in the morning”. That kind of bag packing.
Around this time of year, despite the fact that I am now an ‘adult’ and have a job, a pension-plan and bills to pay, I always feel the tiniest bit nostalgic about the back to school feeling you would get before the new academic year.
You’d have bought a new pencil case from WH Smiths (or paperchase if you were really lucky). The pencils inside would be sharpened and the fountain pens ready-filled with ink. You’d be excited to see all the people you hadn’t seen over the school holidays, and crisp white shirts would be hanging up in your wardrobe, fresh out the packet.
The novelty of this would wear off pretty quickly, of course, usually around the time that the first piece of homework is set.
Nonetheless, I still feel such a sense of satisfaction and glowing pride when I can go to bed, secure in the knowledge that nothing needs to be organised or sorted out the next day – just up, shower, breakfast and go.
It’s not a schoolbag anymore, of course, and hasn’t been for a long time. But the gym bag requires just as much careful planning and preparation. And it’s just as satisfying when it’s sitting by the door ready to go as you get into bed the night before.
I like to have a big bottle in my gym bag that I fill up when I get to the gym. It’s always important to stay hydrated during your workout and it’s just so much more convenient to have a bottle to carry around, rather than to-ing and fro-ing from the water fountains every 5 minutes.
2) Emergency Sugar
You never know when you might get lightheaded. It sounds ridiculous but sometimes you just need that little boost, whether it’s through a sports drink, supplements, pre-workout or just a cheeky bar of chocolate.
3) A Protein Kick
You always need protein to help your muscles repair, and this is especially important if you do lots of weights or resistance training. If you’re a morning gym-er, like me, then try to keep something in your bag so that you’re not waiting ages until your next meal for some protein. I either have a protein bar or shake or I make sure my breakfast is made with high protein yogurt or oats.
5) A Padlock
Some gyms provide locks, others don’t. I like to have one in my bag all the time, just in case.
6) Mini Towel
Again, some gyms give towels for free, but it’s useful to have a small one as well anyway, particularly if it’s a hair-wash day.
7) Make up and Hair Brush
I’ve accidentally forgotten both of these on one of my ‘off’ days, and needless to say it was a bit of a disaster all round. I always make sure they’re sitting in my bag the night before so that it never happens again.
8) Mini Shampoo and Conditioner
Nothing is worse than needing to wash your hair but forgetting your Shampoo. Saying that, dry shampoo is a really useful gym-bag essential too, but I prefer keeping mini bottles in my bag all the time so that I don’t have to remember to pack my big ones and then carry them about everywhere.
9) A Resistance Band
The gym suddenly gets really busy in September because people are full of new-Academic Year Resolutions. Having a resistance band in your bag is really handy for those rush hour periods when you can’t get on any of the machines or cables. Plus, it’ll add a bit of variety to your workout – it’s always good to mix things up a little.
10) Notepad and Pen
Sounds a bit weird for the gym, but it’s always useful to have in your bag in case you suddenly get the urge to record what you’ve done, or maybe jot down an exercise that you haven’t done before for future reference. Some people just use their phone, of course, but I’m a fan of the good, old-fashioned pen and paper.
11) A Spare Shirt
Because you never know when your water bottle will decide to leak.
12) Gym Member Card
There’s no point in having a gym bag if you can’t get into the gym…
What are your gym bag essentials? I’d love to hear what you can’t live without!