[FITNESS]: 7 Essential Things In My Gym Bag

I’ve been mixing up the way I train or ‘stay fit’ and instead of a 5 or 6 day-a-week ashtanga yoga practice, I now do a range of HIIT, pilates, TRX, boxing, spinning, yoga classes and of course, handstand trainings. So now, instead of only ever carrying around a yoga mat and yoga towel, I’ve got some other essentials in my gym bag.

All these classes happen at the gym, yoga or pilates studios I frequent, so I take what I need for that day’s training. I research to death practically everything I buy as I don’t like to end up in a “buy nice or pay twice” situation. If you’re similar, or looking for some alternatives to what you’re currently using, maybe this could spark some ideas.

Here are the things I love that are currently in my gym bag:

What's In My Gym Bag

*Not pictured: iPhone XS - which I used to take this photo!

1. Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Gotta stay hydrated! Together with the earphones and iPhone, this is the one of three things I always bring with me to the gym/ studio. I know some gyms provide water coolers and paper (or worse, plastic) cups - but why use a one-time disposable cup when you can stay hydrated with your own water bottle? And yes, stainless steel (or glass) over plastic, please! Don’t want them BPA plastics messing up your hormones!

Manufacturer link here.

2. Jaybird X4 Bluetooth Wireless Earphones

These were a recent purchase, and I was deciding between the Bose Soundsport Wireless or these. In the end, I went with the Jaybird X4’s for these reasons:

  • They came out recently (compared with the Bose that have been on the market for a couple years or more by now).

  • I like that it’s a tangle-free flat cable - like a flat, rectangle tagliatelle noodle as opposed to the round spaghetti type of cable (yes, pasta references).

  • Hands down the winning reason to get these is coz you can adjust your audio EQ levels within the Jaybird iOS app.

I’m very particular about sound quality (my audiophile dad’s influence!) Before this, I was using the Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2 which I LURRRRRVE. But as I recently got an iPhone XS which no longer has the 3.5mm audio jack, I had to either get earphones with a lightning jack or just go completely wireless (no, I didn’t wanna carry around yet another 3.5mm-lightning dongle). I hemmed and hawed A LOT, but decided to bite the bullet, embrace the future and go wireless - and now I’m wondering WHAT THE HECK TOOK ME SO LONG?! Not being tethered to your phone while working out is a first world freedom to embrace.

I’m no wiz at audio EQ levels, but the best part about the Jaybird app is you can download other people’s EQ levels (with a rating system from other users), and find the one that works for you. You can change the EQ settings up depending on what you listen to - considering I listen to everything as diverse as podcast talk shows to Ravi Shankar sitar music to hip-hop (drop that bass, yo), this works a treat.

The one setting I keep coming back to is the one titled “HD Balanced Sound”, if you’re a Jaybird user and looking for an EQ setting.

Manufacturer link here.

3. iPhone XS

Couldn’t take a photo of it as this is what I use for taking all my photos! I mean - it’s kinda obvious why you need your phone at the gym, right? TUNES!!

Music: I’ve got loads of great get-up-and-go gym playlists. Also have loads of great yoga playlists for everything from vinyasa to yin, and a mega big list for savasanaaaaaaaa. If you ask nicely, I might write a separate post with all the different playlists I’ve got and subscribe to.

Video: After each workout, I’ve also been spending about 15 - 20 minutes working on handstands (2018 goal: do a 30-second freestanding handstand without a wall. I’m not there yet, but I reckon consistently nailing 2-seconds is within reach by year-end). The video function has been very handy in providing immediate feedback since I only check in with my handstand coach every few months. Self-practice without immediate feedback is hard, and videoing sessions is how I see where I need to correct myself.

Manufacturer link here.

4. Toesox Pilates Gloves

Pilates reformer: Even though these are marketed as “pilates gloves”, and I DO use them for pilates reformer classes for extra grip when doing planks/ bears/ wheelbarrows at my high intensity pilates reformer classes, I also use them for a bunch of other workouts.

Spinning: In Amsterdam where I live, we’ve got Rocycle, which is kinda like the Dutch version of Soul Cycle in the US. It’s no ordinary spin class - it’s like a spin class on steroids, or as they like to call it “party on a bike”. There’s lots of cycling standing up/ hovering/ sitting down, ab crunches, even using hand weights for arms while cycling. These gloves are mega handy for more grip. Plus - let’s be honest. How clean are those bike handles? I really don’t wanna know. I can grip for dear life and no longer worry about what’s on those handlebars. :)

Rowing/ HIIT/ TRX classes: I was starting to get callouses on my palms right where the palm meets the fingers. It was great at first (f**k yeah, I’m a bad ass), but when callouses start growing bigger and harder over a few months, it’s not so cute anymore. So any class where I’ve gotta grip and pull, I’ve started wearing these too - let’s see if they work in reducing these callouses. Ugh.

Manufacturer link here.

5. Nike Free X Metcon Trainers

These are a GAME CHANGER. I used to work out in only running shoes, Nike Free Flyknits - and yes, that clearly shows I’m no runner at all. I used to do the occasional treadmill run, but I’ve got flat feet and dodgy knees that got worse and had to stop. Was still using the Frees for other gym workouts, but in boxing/ combat class, I’d keep rolling over the edges.

It wasn’t until a proper runner explained to me why I was getting my shoe game all wrong (and trust me, I have a strong shoe game outside the gym. But that’s clearly all form, zero function). It’s something about how running shoes are built with a higher profile with more cushioning (basically a higher/ thicker sole), which makes them less stable. For other workouts like boxing which require more stability for lateral movements, I need a shoe with a lower profile. This is why I kept rolling over the edges on the Frees in boxing class.  

I tried the Metcons, but they were too low, flat, heavy and hard. I mean, they’re really built for weightlifting. And then I tried these which have the Metcon stability, but the cushioning and lightness of the Frees. LOVE LOVE LOVE. They’re also built for cross-training, so it’s perfect for everything I’m into.

Nike - you really need to bring these out in Women’s versions next, please? (These are from the men’s collection).

Manufacturer link here.

6. Oysho Pilates Shoes/ Socks

I used to have pilates socks - the toe-less kind. But they are thin and don’t last long. Basically like socks with grippy nubs at the bottom. I’ve since changed to the more hardy/ sturdy shoe version - these are like a scuba wetsuit material, so there’s even a bit of cushioning. For someone with flat feet who’s pretty heavy-footed, these are mega comfy. They last long too!

Manufacturer link here.

7. Manduka eKo SuperLite Yoga Mat (ultra thin skin of a mat)

This isn’t a true yoga mat - it’s essentially a 1.5mm thin skin of rubber you place over an existing yoga mat and also folds up easily to stuff in a gym bag. It’s perfect for travelling, when you don’t wanna lug your usual mat around (I usually use the Manduka ProLite which is 2kg - that’s heavy to lug around daily).

I mean, you could totally just use the mats at any studio, but it always grosses me out when I’m in chaturanga or inversions ie., with face close to the mat, and you get a whiff of the stinky rental mat - full of feet and stale sweat and god-knows-what-else fungus-y type smells. After reading this article on fungus outbreaks in gyms and studios (NO THANKS!), you’ll understand why I bring my own ultra thin mat to lay on top of the potential fungus playground.

Manufacturer link here.

Do you use any of the same products I use, and do you like/ dislike them?

Do you have any alternative recommendations? Let me know in the comments below, or tell me over at Instagram or in my community group!

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