Workout Essentials: What’s in My Gym Bag

Hey everyone! I am so excited to share this post with you today! If you are an avid gym goer like myself, you may or may not be aware that there are certain things that you can add to your workouts that will help you reach your goals, big or small. These items can also help you feel more comfortable in the gym. Today I am going to share what is in my gym bag, and why each of these items are essential for me to have!

  • Headphones

This one is pretty obvious, but there have been times where I have forgotten my headphones at home, and it was AWFUL. (If you are an iphone user like me, and you are using headphones that aren’t from Apple, make sure to bring the headphone jack with you!) Even though the gym is always playing music, I prefer to have my own playlist going while I work out!

  • Cell phone armband

While I am working out, I do not want to have to worry about where to put my phone. I always keep an armband in my gym bag so that I can place it on my arm, and if I need to change a song or text someone back, I can still use my phone while wearing the armband.

  • Resistance bands

If you are weight training, resistance bands are game changers (particularly for lower body days)! Resistance bands are used to add resistance to your exercises. Your muscles will work against the resistance, which in turn makes exercises more challenging, but more effective as well. Using these will also help target your glutes, so I use resistance bands during glute activation and for various exercises on lower body days such as hip thrusts, squats, and fire hydrants. If these sound like they would be useful to you, I highly recommend looking into buying them. They can get expensive, but I would not recommend buying the ones made of rubber latex, because they can roll/slip, and I have had one break on me before. Try buying ones that are labeled “non-slip” and made of a stronger material. Make sure to buy a pack that includes bands at different levels (light-heavy).

  • Velcro ankle straps

The cable machines add constant tension to your exercises and they help you control your movements. Ankle straps can be very helpful for cable machine exercises such as glute kickbacks, lunges, hip abductors, and hamstring curls. I do not use these every lower body day, but trust me when I say that you will FEEL it in your muscles when you use the cable machine!

  • Personal hygiene items such as:
    • Deodorant/perfume
    • Lotion or hand sanitizer
    • Razor
    • Hair ties
    • Feminine products

It is so very important to make sure that you are heading to the gym with personal hygiene products. Before I go to the gym, I always put deodorant on, and I spritz on a tiny bit of perfume/body spray. I like to keep a mini deodorant in my gym bag just in case I ever forget to put some on, or if I need to reapply while at the gym (if you are the kind of person who sweats a lot, using a bit of baby powder on your armpits can keep you dry longer)! You DON’T want to be the person who smells like body odor, but you also don’t want to be the person who reeks of cologne (we all know these people). A little can go a long way, but just remember to be aware of and take care of your personal hygiene.

I keep lotion and a razor in my bag just in case. My legs tend to get very dry, so if I am wearing shorts or cropped leggings, I like to put on a bit of lotion. I also wash my hands after every workout since I am constantly touching dumbbells or machines that other people have touched. If you want to carry hand sanitizer instead, you can definitely do that!

There have been times when I have walked through the doors of the gym and I realized that I didn’t have a hair tie on me. I had to ask at the front desk if they had hair ties, but all they could offer was rubber bands (if you have ever put a rubber band in your hair, you know it is not fun to take out).

Don’t ever forget feminine products. I always have something on me just in case.

  • Water

I always try to drink 8 cups of water a day. It is extremely important to drink water, especially during a workout. I always bring 2 bottles to the gym with me (I usually drink at least one of them during my actual workout). In total, I drink 4 water bottles a day.

  • A quick post-workout snack

If you aren’t going to eat a full meal after a workout, you should still try to eat something. Eating after a workout is very important, so try to get something in your stomach and eat a full meal as soon as you can. If you are going to grab a snack, make sure it is healthy and that there is a decent amount of protein in it.

  • Towel

I always bring a clean hand towel to the gym with me because you never know who was using the bench or machine before you. You should always make sure to clean the equipment after you use it, and if you feel the need to, you can clean it beforehand as well. I place a towel wherever I am going to lay my head down, and I make sure that the side that is facing the equipment does not ever touch my face or my head.

  • Lifting gloves

If you don’t want calluses or rough hands from lifting, you could always wear gloves. I used to wear them when I first started working out, but I don’t really care to wear them anymore. The lifting gloves can also help with your grip. If you are a beginner, or you just want to try them out, I recommend it.

  • Barbell pad

I actually do not have a barbell pad at the moment. My gym does have a few, but I would prefer to use my own. Barbell pads are great for protecting your neck and shoulders when doing any exercise where a long bar or barbell is going to be over your shoulders. They can also help when doing hip thrusts and they can make performing exercises much more comfortable. I am asking for one for Christmas so hopefully I will have my own soon!

Thank you so much for reading! Leave me a comment and let me know what your gym bag essentials are! If you feel that I missed something and want to recommend it to me, I would love to know in a comment below!

Gym Tips for Beginners

I remember how I felt when I first started going to the gym. I felt like everyone was watching and judging me, and I was a little nervous that I was doing something wrong. Luckily, I had my Dad right by my side to teach me everything I needed to know. I know that not everyone has someone to head over to the gym with and I can imagine that going by yourself would be a little nerve wracking at first, so I am here to give you some tips to get over that fear today!

  • Go with a friend

As I just mentioned, going to the gym alone can be a little scary at first, so if you can, grab a friend, parent, sibling, or whoever you feel comfortable with and work out together! This way, you will be more focused on you and your friend and not on everyone that is “watching you”. Most of the time people are at the gym to better themselves, not to watch others and laugh at them. I have to say, I have met many more kind and supportive people at my gym than judgmental and rude people.

  • Plan your workouts ahead of time

YouTube has so many helpful videos that demonstrate the proper way to perform any exercise. (I would try to find videos of someone reputable and trustworthy. You don’t want to hurt yourself or perform any of the exercises incorrectly.) Watching videos and practicing the exercises at home will help you feel more confident when you’re in the gym!

  • Find the form of exercise that you love the most (or one that you can at least somewhat deal with)

There are so many different forms of exercise, and just because weight lifting is my favorite way, it does not mean that it will be yours too. You do not have to have a gym membership to get a good workout in, or to be healthy. Running, lifting, hiking, dancing, yoga, and participating in sports are all great ways to work out! Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to try new things!

  • Create a playlist

Another way to combat nerves is to have a fun workout playlist! Pick your favorite upbeat songs to play while you kill it! Not only will hearing your favorite songs make you less nervous, it can also help you focus and get you through difficult exercises!

  • BREATHE

This one may seem obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I will forget to breathe properly during my workouts.  As you exert energy, exhale. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.

  • Start slow and start light

There is absolutely NO reason to lift 50 pounds on your first day at the gym unless you want to injure yourself. There is nothing wrong with taking the 5 pound dumbbells and using them for your entire upper body day. If you feel like 5’s are way too easy, try the next number up. Don’t forget to go slow and control your movements.  (Remember that although the 5’s may seem easy on your first set, as you get to your second or third, it may get more difficult. Don’t get ahead of yourself.)

  • It’s not a competition or a race (unless it actually is)

If you are heading to the gym with a partner, whether they are more experienced in the gym or not, you do NOT have to use the same weights they are using, or go as fast as they are on the treadmill. Unless it is actually a competition that you are participating in, there’s no need to focus so much on the other person. Don’t compare yourself to someone else. Although healthy competition is good for us at times, in many cases it is better to simply focus on yourself and do what is best for you. (Use these people as motivation; you will get to where they are one day!)

  • Designate a small corner of the gym for your workout

I have been going to the gym for almost 4 years now and this is something I still do to this day. If you are uncomfortable working out in front of a bunch of people or you just like a more private workout, try to find a corner of your gym where no one really goes too often and do your exercises over there (preferably near a mirror so you can see what you are doing).

  • Wear what makes you comfortable (but follow your gym’s dress code)

If you are most comfortable in leggings and a tank top, wear it! If you are more comfortable in an oversized t-shirt and shorts, wear it! If you are constantly tugging at your clothes and walking around uncomfortably, you are not going to get a good workout in.

I hope that you found some of these tips helpful and before you know it you’ll be walking around the gym like you own it! I am planning on posting a fitness update sometime in the near future so be on the lookout for that! Thank you for reading! Now go kill it!

My Fitness Journey

At a young age, my Mom signed me up for dance and ice skating lessons. After doing this for a few years, we ended up moving to a completely different state in 2011 and I was too nervous to sign up for lessons again (although I loved to dance and ice skate).  I never really considered myself an athlete, and throughout my late childhood and early teenage years I was not a part of any sports teams nor did I care to be. It was never a goal of mine to be the best female soccer player, or the best gymnast in the world. From that point on, I was not a very active person. In February of 2016 all of that changed. My Dad decided to start going to our local gym after taking quite a few years off due to a shoulder injury. He had done weight training almost all his life. I am not really sure what made me want to, but one day I asked him if I could go with him and he said yes. I started to go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My Dad would pick me up from school on those days and we would go straight to the gym. He taught me everything I needed to know, and he always stressed the importance of having proper form when lifting. I started off using very light weight and spent a lot of time practicing the exercises he taught me. Many women are terrified to even go near the weights section in the gym for the fear of looking too “manly”, and many will often opt for cardio instead.  I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous about that when I first started too. I now understand that that is very unlikely and that you have a lot of control over what your body looks like. I stuck to the same routine for almost two years and my body reacted to weight lifting (and cardio) very quickly. I first noticed that my legs were looking different, and eventually I noticed the changes in my upper body as well, and I think this is partly why I fell in love with weight lifting. It wasn’t just because of the way my body was changing, but also because of the way that it made me feel. I would walk out of the gym feeling so much better than when I walked in. Not everyone is the same, and results may come sooner or later depending on the person and what they do in the gym. I got lucky, but I also worked really hard. Around my two year anniversary, I discovered the Gymshark athletes on Instagram and YouTube and watched their videos religiously. I learned a lot about changing up your workout routines from time to time, and about eating healthy to see more results. I was never someone who ate a TON of unhealthy food, but I definitely could have been eating better. Up until that point I really didn’t change the way I ate even though I was working out and seeing some results. I didn’t realize that changing my diet would help me see even more results. My three year anniversary in the gym came around and I decided that it was time to change my usual gym routine and to start eating healthier. The change was not very easy (especially for someone with a GIANT sweet tooth like me), however it made a really big difference. I was pushing myself harder in the gym and taking it more seriously than I ever did before. I saw more changes in my body and I slowly added more protein, fruits, and vegetables to my diet. I was making sure to eat enough food to grow muscle, and I was drinking eight cups of water every day. Since then, I have been changing up my workouts around every six months to keep myself motivated, however eating right is still the most difficult part of living a healthy life. As time goes on, I am learning more and more and I have definitely made mistakes but that is OK! I let myself eat something sweet every single day, and I am still learning to not be so hard on myself. I have also realized that motivation comes and goes and NO ONE is motivated 100% of the time. Living a healthy life is a little bit more difficult as a full-time college student but I am doing the best that I can, and that is enough. February 23, 2020 will be my four year anniversary of weight lifting and I cannot believe that so much time has passed since I first started. I always like to thank my Dad for getting me into a lifestyle I never saw myself in. I never considered myself an athlete, not until now. And for someone as girly as me, I did not ever picture myself being the kind of person to head over to the gym and lift weights. Change is possible, and self-love is possible. This is just one step that I took that led me in the right direction. It  has brought me so much joy and confidence. My fitness journey may not be the most inspiring or incredible story to ever be told, but it is mine, and I am very proud of it.

Thank you so much for reading this post. As my fitness journey continues, I will be sure to update often! I would truly appreciate it if you shared with your friends and subscribed to my blog!