I’d be willing to bet that I carry around a gym bag heavier than that of the average gym goer. I think it’s because as a fitness instructor, you want to be equipped for every eventuality. Screw comes loose on the bottom of your spin shoe cleat? I’ve got a hex key to tighten it. Rechargeable batteries at the studio don’t work? I’ve got those too. Come to think of it, hauling my gym bag to and from each day could probably be considered a bit of strength training in itself. (There’s my justification for parking as close to the building as possible – I’m just conserving energy for my real workout.) 😉
But what else is in my gym bag, you may ask? Here’s what fell out over the weekend while emptying it in search of a missing earring:
Running shoes – Asics, of course, because I’m a loyal fan and can’t seem to find anything else that quite compares to their greatness. I’m a pronator (meaning my feet turn inward slightly when I run), and the GT-1000, GT-2000, and Gel Noosa Tri 9 have Duomax (Asics-speak for stability control) in the arch area to help neutralize this. Yes, they may be pricier than your average running shoe, but I’ve never had a pair that lasts longer and let’s be honest here – the colours are pretty awesome.
iPod and Yurbuds – A gym staple, the iPod never comes out of the bag except for when I need to clean my arm band because it’s so stinky I can’t stand it any more. I’ve been through about 5 iPod nanos in the last 8ish years (you’d think I’d be done with them by now, but clearly I have Apple-itis syndrome or something that keeps me coming back) and since the earbuds that come with them can’t seem to stay put in my ears, I use Yurbuds. These are basically earbuds with soft rubber grippies which bend to fit the shape of your ear. I use the Inspire model which comes with 2 plastic covering sizes (one large, one small) so you can pick the ones that fit your ears best. However, if you want something a little fancier, they also have ones that have more durable cords, microphones, and over-the-ear hooks. Trust me though – despite these ones not having bits that loop around your ears, they don’t fall out. Like, ever. No matter how sweaty your ears may be.
Workout journal – Call me super old-school, but I still like to record my workouts in a notebook as opposed to in my phone or anywhere else. I track my cardio activity as well as any strength training that I do, and at the end of the week I’ll add up my miles to ensure I’m not increasing too quickly. I also add in comments about how the workout felt, any soreness, etc so that if I happen to get injured, I can look back and figure out what might have caused it.
Gloves – because callouses from lifting weights aren’t fun to deal with and don’t go well with manicures.
Water bottle – An obvious gym bag find, there’s not too much to say about this one. I typically use a Klean Kanteen bottle when I teach spin classes because it has a sport cap that makes it easy to grab with one hand, but otherwise I use my Vega bottle because it’s easy to carry around and I like seeing how much water I’ve had to drink.
Towel – because I sweat like nobody’s business.
A long-sleeve top – One of my big pet peeves is finishing off my cardio and going over to the weights area, only to find the air conditioning blasting down on my wet clothes, making me super cold. I like the Lululemon Run Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve for this because it’s really light and non-restrictive but still keeps me warm.
Spin shoes – Only toted around on days when I teach, my spin shoes have SPD cleats, which is the most common type I’ve seen in the cycling studios I’ve visited over the years. They’re a road shoe and made by Diadora. (I’ve been asked this question many times by readers who want to get a pair for themselves, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like they make this model any more.) If you’re looking for a good pair of spin shoes, I’d recommend checking out Shimano, Diadora, and SIDI. You might also find these posts useful:
- Cues and Shoes – What are spin shoes all about and should you buy them? (An ancient post that I wrote, but one of the most popular ever)
- 5 ways to get more out of your spin class
Items also carried on spin days include my iPad, class profile, mic belt, cycling shorts, and the flexible light that I wind around the bike’s handlebars so that I can see my notes.
Band-Aids, a mini first aid kit, and hair elastics – All items that I’ve either 1) used myself or 2) found very useful when asked for them by my spin class participants. I’m notorious for snapping hair elastics so I always have an excess number of them stashed in my bag.
Coconut oil – This is my moisturizer for pretty much errrrrything but my face. I have a big jar of it at home that I use to refill my little container, and in addition to moisturizing my skin post-shower, it also helps a ton to get rid of any chlorine-y smells leftover after a swim. Another tip – put it on the ends of your hair if they’re starting to look a little broken. I use this trick ALL the time.
Lip balm – Actually, let’s make that balms. Plural. After dumping them all out and counting, there were 8 of various sizes and tints in my bag, and the same is probably true of my purse. I’m willing to bet many of you out there know exactly what I’m talking about!
Vega products – I’ve got a mini Vega store inside the side pocket of my bag, and it’s always kept fully stocked with my faves. I love the sugar free energizer in acai berry, which I drink 20 minutes before my workout. The sugar-free electrolyte hydrator is what you’ll find mixed into my water during long runs (1+ hours), and if I’ve had a particularly hard session, I’ll refill my bottle with water and recovery accelerator (tropical flavour) before leaving the gym so that I can start the recovery process faster, rather than waiting until I get home, showered, dressed, etc.
‘In-a-pinch’ healthy snacks – I like to carry at least one whole foods-based bar (typically a Vega Sport Protein Bar or Vega One Bar) inside my gym bag’s back pocket, just in case I find myself with no time to go home for a proper meal. There have also been a few occasions (very few, thankfully) where I’ve felt a little light-headed and need a bit of fuel to perk me back up, and the bars have been a super handy solution for this.
Vega just re-launched ALL of their bars – new formulations, new packaging, new flavours, new everything – and I’m super excited to try them all out. So far, I’ve tried the Chocolate Mint and Chocolate Coconut versions of the Vega Sport Protein Bar. (Chocolate Peanut Butter is also available.) Chocolate Mint was the most appealing to me, and OH.MY.GOODNESS is it ever good. For the sake of comparison, here’s what it looks like next to one of the older bars:
And here’s a quick look at what’s inside:
- 15 g complete, multisource, plant-based protein
- 2.5 g BCAAs
- 2 g glutamine
- 1 g Omega-3
While there wasn’t anything wrong with the old formula, the new flavours (Chocolate Mint in particular) are SO much better! The texture is a bit like a brownie – soft yet dense and chewy, all at the same time. I had the Chocolate Mint one last week, and enjoyed the Chocolate Coconut after my race on Saturday. Compared to the old Chocolate Coconut, this one was much smoother – fewer coconutty bits inside (which I greatly appreciate) and really tasty. Perhaps thinking about it made me run faster? 😉
In addition to the protein bars, 3 other types were launched/re-launched:
- Vega Snack Bar – Ideal for enjoying in between meals. Dark Chocolate Mixed Nuts and Sea Salt, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Dark Chocolate Cashew Cherry, Cranberry Almond, Cashew Coconut.
- Vega One Bar – A quick meal replacement bar that contains 12-13g protein, greens, antioxidants, Omega-3s and a vitamin and mineral blend – sort of like a Vega One smoothie, but in bar form. Chocolate Cherry Almond, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Coconut Cashew.
- Vega Sport Energy Bar – This one provides a boost of carbs with a little bit of fat and protein, great for pre-workout situations when you need to top up your energy stores. Chocolate Coconut Almond, Apple Cherry.
Unlike so many other bars out there, all of these ones are vegan, non-GMO, and contain zero artificial ingredients. I always prefer to pack my own food to eat after races because the standard white bagel provided by the race organizers never has much appeal, so I’m really looking forward to enjoying the new Vega bars as part of my post-race rituals. The only problem now will be making sure I keep the ‘just in case’ pocket of my gym bag stocked – if the other flavours are as good as the Chocolate Mint one, they’re not going to last long!
Now I’d love to hear from you. Tell me…
- What’s 1 completely random thing I’d find in your gym bag?
- What are your top 3 gym-going essentials?
Lastly, the winner of my Tommie Copper compression gear giveaway is Sonja! I’ll be emailing you shortly for your contact info. Congrats! 🙂