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I’ve started going to the gym a few times a week as a way to improve my circulation. Sitting at a computer for hours a day has become a bit of a detriment to the veins and arteries in my legs — something that I’ve actually heard is quite common for bloggers and creatives — and so an hour a day on a treadmill/stationary bike/elliptical is working wonders for the cramps and dull aches I was starting to get in my legs and lower back. It also gives me the chance to get out of my work-related bubble a few times a week and focus on something that doesn’t involve algorithms, SEO and a DSLR.
The gym is something that’s always caused me a bit of anxiety. I’m not really sure why it remains to be something that causes me a lot of stress and worry, but I know that it first began in my teenage years when I would feel like I had to be at the gym every day instead of wanting to be there every day.
Now, as an adult, I find myself approaching the gym in a vastly different way, but for some reason the anxiety that began almost ten years ago is still very present when I try to incorporate any sort of gym-related exercise into my life. It’s no longer unmanageable, and I find that I’m mostly able to overcome it, but there are some times when I’ll be on my way to the gym and I’ll just turn around and come straight home, feeling disappointed in myself while trying to swallow back the lump in my throat.
One of the things I’ve found to be extremely helpful when managing my gym-related anxiety is making sure that I have my gym bag with me. It sounds kind of dumb, but my gym bag holds all of the things I could ever need whilst I’m there, and I find having it with me feels almost as though I’m holding a shield of sorts… I feel prepared for whatever could happen, and that’s almost always effective enough to dull the anxiety to a manageable level until the endorphins kick in and my mind shuts off.
So, if you’re looking for ideas on what to pack in your gym bag, or if you’re just starting out and need a gym shield of your own — this post is for you. I can’t promise it will quell your anxiety completely, but it might make you feel a bit more prepared and in control. I’ve found that having my gym bag with me can make the difference in actually being able to make it through the door instead of being unable to leave my house (because anyone with anxiety knows this is 100% a thing). We’ve all gotta start somewhere, and sometimes just walking on the treadmill for ten minutes is enough… (also, watch this video if you struggle with going to the gym due to anxiety and negative emotions. Suzie’s approach to exercise is SO laid back yet effective and I found it super helpful when I was in a bit of a slump).
The first thing I always have with me in the gym is something I’m sure we’re all inseparable from even at the best of times — and that’s my iPhone. Without it I would literally be unable to go to the gym, because I’ve never been able to be like those people that run or walk on the treadmill without at least some form of audio entertainment. I mainly use my phone for playing audiobooks (check out the books I’ve been listening to lately here), listening to podcasts and making my way through an upbeat playlist (this one is my current fave), but it’s also a great tool to have if my motivation is exceptionally low, and I make myself feel a little better by scrolling through Instagram or Twitter while I’m on the treadmill. I definitely don’t move as fast as I could, but it keeps me distracted long enough to get a decent workout in and makes the difference between moderate exercise and literally none at all.
The second thing I have inside my gym bag are a set of headphones. I’ve been using the black AF33W MK2 Audiofly headphones for the last two months and they’ve become my new favourite headphones ever. Usually I can’t deal with in-ear headphones as they hurt after a while, but I’ve had no issues with the Audiofly headphones and I think that’s because they come with three different silicone tip sizes. I use the smaller tips and can wear them all day without any pain, but I mainly keep them in my gym bag because I find walking on the treadmill while wearing wireless headphones to be way more convenient than getting tangled up in cords and attachments. I basically forget I’m wearing headphones, which I’m sure we all know is a pretty fab feeling. They also come with a cute little bag to store them in which means no damaged cords!
Now, for the boring things: I always take this lip balm to the gym with me. It smells like peaches and can distract me from even the worst of body odour that always seems to linger in gyms. Hand sanitiser, a box of organic tampons and an emergency tube of deodorant are other essentials I always have in my gym bag, as are at least two invisibobbles because you never know when you’ll need reinforcements. I always buy this water because it tastes good, comes in a reusable glass bottle that’s eco-friendly and v Instagram-worthy, and the 500mL bottles always fit into water bottle holders on treadmills, which is obviously extremely important. I also love a pair of oversized sunglasses post-workout to hide at least some of my extremely red face and this key organiser to make sure my entry and exit is as quiet and inconspicuous as possible. Nobody wants to be that person with obnoxiously loud keys that make a hell of a racket as they’re being fished out of the bottom of your bag.
I’d love to know what you guys have inside your gym bag! Maybe you can give me some ideas on anything I need to add to mine?