It’s that time of year that we especially need to keep up with our health and exercise routine, despite the holiday rush and busy schedules. One of the excuses that many of us end up making is that it takes too much time to prep our gym bags. There’s also the challenge of trying to fit in a visit to the gym during the day, but needing to be at a company party or holiday celebration that evening – you don’t want to show up without looking your best. I totally get it – and I’ve found a few ways to combat this and help ensure I have what I need for the gym on a daily basis. Here’s some packing tips and products I’ve been using, and had great success with, especially during this busy season:
- Grab unused makeup bags and organize products into groups: If you’re like me, you often shop during “gift with purchase” timeframes from your favorite beauty brands. This can result in a bunch of empty, unused makeup bags hanging out in your closet or bathroom drawers. Put them to better use! I currently have 3 in my gym bag (above) and use them in the following categories: a bag for makeup, a bag for shower items (shampoo, conditioner, etc), and a bag for feminine products. That way my gym bag always stays organized, and I can easily refill these bags when needed rather than fishing through my entire gym bag. Ziploc bags can also do the trick if you don’t have spare makeup bags. I also am re-using a fabric drawstring sleeve that held my bedroom sheet set as a shoe bag. It’s perfectly sized to keep the items in my bag protected from the soles of my shoes. (Hint: old pillowcases work well for this too!)
- For easier showering, use a reusable shopping tote bag to hold shower-only items: I don’t like having to haul my whole gym bag into the showers with me. I found a simple solution in using a reusable shopping tote (like my Bliss one above), and keeping my soap dish, razor container, clean wash cloth, and makeup bag for shower items (per my mention of this before) inside of it. That way, I can just grab it out of my gym bag and go right into the showers – I also use the tote as my “laundry bag” to keep sweaty gym clothes and used wash cloths from getting the inside of my gym bag wet on the way home. These tote bags are thin, and fairly weightless, plus they don’t take up much space inside your gym bag. If it starts to smell a bit funky, simply toss and replace as needed.
- Use travel-sized toiletries of your favorite products: I’ll admit I’m always kind of surprised when I see people hauling full-sized products around locker rooms. Why? There are so many easy options to either make your own travel-sized versions of your favorite products, or simply purchase travel-sized options – this saves both weight and space in your gym bag. Clinique, for example, sells a large amount of its product line in travel-sizes. I caution against using products that may be at the gym, like complimentary body wash – these often are loaded with synthetic fragrances, so there’s a chance you could develop a reaction if you have sensitive skin. Instead, use a solid bar soap for head-to-toe washing – CeraVe, Cetaphil, First Aid Beauty, and Dove make bar soaps that are gentle and appropriate for both face and body. Solid bar soaps don’t leak, last a long time, and they transport easily. Target has a great selection of travel-sized and TSA-approved bottles for shampoo, conditioner, and lotion that you can fill from your full-sized products. Travalo perfume bottles are great for keeping your favorite scents in a travel-friendly size – they’re easy to fill and fairly inexpensive. They make great stocking stuffers too!
- Use up beauty product samples: If you order online often from ULTA or Sephora, shop gift with purchase promotions, or have a subscription to a beauty box brand, you probably get a bunch of beauty samples regularly. These are perfect travel-sizes! From skin care to perfume, these make great options for using up within your gym bag. I just got my birthday samples from Sephora (Caudalie facial moisturizer and serum), plus had enough rewards points to get a new Kat Von D perfume vial – they are the perfect size for just this type of usage. It’s a great way to test new products, but also a convenient way to prevent these from piling up in your bathroom vanity.
- Get a travel-size version of your favorite hair tools: Many gyms offer hair dryers, but I’ve had more than one occasion where they just aren’t the power that I want, or in worst-case scenarios, barely work. I picked up a tiny Babyliss hair dryer that I absolutely love for under $35 – it’s powerful, and super lightweight. I also have a small flat-iron in my bag, that I use for controlling the ends of my hair. One item that I have discovered as a must-have is a plastic claw clip for my hair – it can keep my hair up in the shower (when I’m not having to wash it) or helping to style post-showering with either the blow dryer or flat-iron. I also have travel-sizes of dry shampoo and hair spray, as I prefer to use the formulas that I know and love.
- Lastly, use multi-tasking products: To save space and weight in your gym bag, use products that can be used in multiple ways. For example, BB cream can substitute foundation, moisturizer, SPF and an anti-aging treatment in one makeup product. The bar soaps that I mentioned above are great for face and body. You can also find an unscented, antioxidant-loaded lotion that works from head to toe to care for skin, such as First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lotion. Use a washcloth for exfoliating your body and face – it also helps to ensure that sweat and odors are washed away, and give you a polished glow. I picked up a pack of baby wash cloths at Target, and they are the perfect size to have one in my gym bag at all times. For makeup colors, I advise to keep neutrals (blush and lipstick) in your makeup bag; this ensures that no matter what you’re wearing, the colors will look natural and fresh. Look for a separate product review soon on the makeup I currently have in my gym bag!
Each of us has our own preferences when it comes to workouts. But if you plan a bit ahead, and make use of some items you may already have around your house, you may discover that it’s easier to make gym visits a priority. Once I started getting into the habit of making sure my bag had my essentials, I found it less stressful to make the time and go workout.
I wish health and happiness to you and your family this holiday season – if you take time to care for yourself, I’ve found that it keeps you feeling more joyful and energized despite the hectic schedule.