When I first started focusing on becoming more physically active, I started with running, like so many people do. Running is quick, “easy,” and doesn’t require any special equipment. Lace up your sneakers, find some turf, and go.
When I started powerlifting, I began to see, at the very least, the purpose of why you’d need to bring equipment to the gym. With such heavy weights, it’s important to protect your muscles and joints with things like knee sleeves and belts.
Finally, I got into Crossfit, which requires athletes to be ready for any type of movement at any given time. What’s the WOD today? Is it running or Olympic weightlifting? Powerlifting or cardio? Are we rowing, riding the assault bike, or box jumping? Is there rope climb or pull-ups? The possibilities are endless.
And that is how I ended up with a gym bag that is half my size.
Why on earth would you need such a large gym bag? First, I keep my notebook with me at all times. Every week, I write down my non-Crossfit-related programming in here. Throughout my workouts, I keep track of my movements, the weight at which I’m performing each movement, warm-ups, cool downs, and WODs. On a quarterly basis, I also make a note of any important stats, ranging from body weight to current PRs.
Then I have no fewer than three different types of knee sleeves. Squats are my favorite movement and I’m perpetually looking for the perfect knee sleeve for me. While I like the Rehband sleeves, they’re better for lighter movements that require less compression, such as pistol squats. My STrong Knee Sleeves are amazing for heavy squats, but when it comes to using them on a regular basis, I spend more time putting them on then working out. I finally found a happy medium with my Strong Strong Supply California Rolls which are easy to get on and I can make them as tight, or as loose, as I need. I adore them.
When it comes time for deadlifts and any overhead press movement, I have my Nordic Lifting lifting straps and wrist wraps. It’s taken me quite a while to get used to the lifting straps, but I like these in particular because the fabric is soft but offers a good grip.
I use both these Dodger hand grips and veterinary tape to help with grip. The hand grips I primarily use on toes to bar or pull up movements since I lose my grip very quickly, and even quicker when my skin starts to break. The veterinary tape is my absolute favorite secret for snatch and clean movements because it’s self-adhesive, so there’s no glue or sticky sensation, but it holds on like crazy so I don’t need to adjust at all when performing a lot of reps. I also use the SandBar Hand Care to file down any callouses on a daily basis. It is an amazing help and my hands haven’t broken at all since I started using it.
Yes, I am someone that brings my own clamps to the gym. Gustavo got me the Rogue metal collars for my birthday and I pop these on during almost every WOD. Of course, the gym has their own clamps, but these are especially helpful during WODs that require dropping the weight on the ground. They hold so much better than the plastic clamps at most boxes, which means much less adjusting while actually working out.
I also carry along my Rx Jump Rope since I prefer to practice on the same rope all the time to help with consistency, especially when working on double unders. I love this rope because the spin is amazing and, as with any jump rope, it’s fantastic for travel. Even if I’m staying somewhere without a fitness center, carrying the jump rope with me means I can do a WOD at any time. (Annie is actually my favorite for travel.)
These resistance bands are also perfect for travel. Normally, I use them to help activate my muscles before moving into squats and for some physical therapy related movements that I began when I was dealing with weak tensor fascia latae when I first started running. I have both this set from Athleema that I grabbed off Amazon and Mark Bell’s Slingshot Hip Circle which is way, way stronger.
After I’ve warmed up with my resistance bands, I strap on my Inzer Powerlifting Belt. I love this belt, I do, except I ordered it too small and every day I put it on I’m reminded how sad I am about that. I’m quite literally on the last hole of the belt and even that’s a bit tight so I may be replacing it soon with a 2Pood. Nevertheless, the quality of this belt is amazing. It was a birthday gift from my mom and it took about six weeks to arrive because the orders are custom made. I have a feeling I’ll be able to use this thing until I die. Hopefully not while I’m wearing it though.
I also, of course, carry headphones with me. These days I honestly don’t use them that much since there are usually people around talking while I’m working out. And if they’re talking in Portuguese, I am 100% incapable of multi-tasking and therefore require utter silence to know what’s happening. Nevertheless, I like these bluetooth headphones because I no longer catch them on the treadmill when running and listening to podcasts (such as Girls Gone WOD because I adore them).
Last, but not least, I do bring a few supplements. At the moment, I’m adoring this coffee whey that I picked up here and that actually tastes like coffee. It does have caffeine in it, so while I’m not really a fan of pre-workout, this is a nice alternative. I also religiously stick by PEScience for BCAAs and creatine, which I cycle on and off of every month. Quest, of course, is my favorite protein bar for after a workout, but since they cost $7 in Rio, I’ve resorted to the moderately cheaper Darkness Whey Bar which honestly tastes like a candy bar. It’s pretty amazing.
And there you have it, the abnormal amount of items I carry with me to the gym on a daily basis. Soon enough I’ll have lifting shoes as well, which means I’ll need to be shoving a second pair of shoes in there too. Nevertheless, I love each of my goodies. They help protect me during some of the most challenging moments of my day so that I can continue to work on my skills and get stronger.
Especially my knee sleeves because, boy, do my knees hate me right now.