On Tuesday, I shared with you all some great printable fitness trackers and food journals and promised I would be back with the post that actually inspired those printables: a look at my newly organized gym bag! Since getting back into teaching group exercise last Fall, I have been pulling a lot of hours at the gym. In addition to teaching 4 classes of my own each week, I’ve also been taking classes and subbing for others on a pretty consistent basis. While getting back to actually teaching classes was just like riding a bike, it’s taken me a little while to get back into the groove of the “logistics” of teaching, including prepping for classes, having all my supplies with me each time, and getting into a good routine with showering/getting ready at the gym after teaching. After being caught at the gym without my music, brush or towel one too many times, I decided my gym bag needed a bit of an overhaul…and it was the perfect project for my next “Organize This” feature!
A few years ago, I picked up this oversized tote from the Vera Bradley outlet for crazy cheap. I didn’t have a use for it then, but the size and colors totally won me over. When I went back to the gym a few months ago, it was the perfect bag because it was sturdy, cute…and very roomy! Until last week however, the roominess proved a bit of a hassle. Everything I brought and needed for teaching was often floating around the bottom; and then when I added in my towel, toiletries and clean clothes, everything was always stuffed in and downright inaccessible.
I started like I do every single organizing project…I emptied out the bag, took stock of what I had in there, and determined what I really needed. I got rid of the stuff that didn’t belong and then went shopping for a few inexpensive supplies to help corral and organize things a bit better.
A quick trip to Target and a few easy DIYs later, I now have a gym bag that is as cute as it is functional! Let me show you everything I have in here in detail!
One of the things I desperately needed was to assemble kits for the items I use for teaching, as well as the items I need to get clean and dressed afterwards. I found these striped totes in the Target Dollar Spot and knew they were the perfect size for what I needed to carry around.
To help me tell the two pouches apart when I’m reaching for them quickly, I made some simple vinyl labels using my Cricut. The pouch with the dumbbell on it holds all of the little things I need for teaching. My microphone belt, microphone covers, extra batteries for the microphone, my old phone/charger for backup music, some extra adapter cords for connecting to the stereo, and a stopwatch are all I use these days. I realize most of you are probably not fitness instructors, but you could assemble a similar pouch to hold things like lifting gloves, heart-rate monitor, ear phones, music player, chargers, etc.
The other pouch holds my basic essentials for getting clean and ready after a workout. I find that if I shower at the gym before coming home, my whole day goes much smoother. When I wait to shower at home, the next thing I know it’s 4pm, and I am still in my workout clothes because I got busy doing something. Time and time again, I found myself at the gym without my toiletries so I finally did the common sense thing and went and bought a second set of everything to keep in my gym bag at all times. Why oh why did I wait so long to do this? Just this week, I was running late and didn’t have time to find everything. Since it was all pre-packed, I just had to grab fresh clothes and head out the door!
Now all the little bits and pieces that were floating around loose at the bottom of my bag are corralled into cute little kits that I can grab with ease!
Having my toiletries always at the ready is just part of the solution, however! I also needed a way to easily and compactly store my clean clothes and a towel.
In looking for a solution for my clothes, I remembered I had a bunch of packing cubes from EzPacking. They are designed to hold clothes perfectly…and sure enough, the medium size is perfect for holding a set of clothes, shoes, undergarments, and accessories with ease! It’s also perfect for wet, smelly clothes and shoes post-workout…now my bag can stay dry and clean no matter how hard I workout!
But my favorite solution in this entire overhaul? My towel solution. Before, I was using a big, oversized beach towel that took up my entire bag. Not only did I want some dedicated towels for the gym, but I also wanted a way to keep them tight and rolled up in my bag. I bought two $5 towels from Target and devised my own strap system that I am beyond smitten with. Now, I will always have a clean towel ready for my gym bag that isn’t too bulky but surely gets the job done…and it will stay wrapped up no matter what! Don’t worry, I have the full tutorial for these strapped towels coming up for you soon!
Now on gym mornings, I just need to grab one of my dedicated gym towels and a fresh set of clothes, and I’m ready!
Last but not least, one more item in my bag that needed updating was my Fitness Binder. Each instructor has a different way of keeping track of notes, workouts, choreography, and routines…and my way has always been in a binder. My previous binder, however, was literally falling apart and had papers falling out of it in every direction.
While I was getting the rest of my bag in order, I figured I’d update my binder as well. I snagged a fresh white binder and made a snazzy new cover. I then finally labeled all my tabs by workout type…which is another small task I wish I had done years ago!
Behind each tab are all my routines and exercises. About 8 years ago (when I was teaching and training like a crazy woman) I had the forethought to actually sit down and type out all of my routines, exercises and programs. When I started back teaching a few months ago, I simply reached for my binder and everything was there, ready for me! I thank myself every single day for doing that years and years ago because it has made getting back into teaching so much easier. Each morning when I go to prepare a workout, I simply grab my binder and pick the routines/exercises for the day! Again, I realize many of you may not have a need for a binder…but if you follow certain workout plans, diet plans, lifting programs or are on a weight-loss journey and you are tracking your progress, assembling a binder is a great way to keep everything handy!
With everything now organized and corralled into functional sets, my bag isn’t nearly as full, and pulling certain items out doesn’t require me to empty my entire bag!
I’ve been using my newly-organized bag for about a week now and all I can say is “why did I wait so long?!?!” I love being at the gym, but don’t want to be there longer than I have to be. Having a dedicated set of toiletries and a teaching kit has helped me get in, do my job, and get out with ease!
My Organize This series is all about (relatively) simple and quick organizing projects that make a big difference in your day-to-day life. These aren’t intended to be large organizational overhauls, but rather quick sessions you can accomplish in an afternoon or weekend! This gym bag project is exactly that: quick and easy enough to do today or this coming weekend! Catch up on other projects in this series by clicking on the pictures below:
I hope you guys enjoyed getting a glimpse into my “other life,” and if you’re a gym rat like me…hopefully I’ve inspired you to take a few minutes to get your gym bag more tidy and organized. Like with so many of these smaller projects, the impact on your day-to-day life can be profound! Knowing I no longer have to fret if I have everything I need is a huge load off…and I can get my workout in and get on with my day with minimal hassle and stress!
I’d love to know what your gym bag looks like! How do you keep it organized? What kinds of things do you always take to the gym? If you have any great solutions, please share in the comments below! This week’s dresser makeover is taking me a bit longer than the last 3…fingers crossed I have pictures up for you on Saturday! See you then!