A carry a lot of stuff!
Everyone’s gym bag contents are pretty different, and personal, to their own needs. But the one thing they have in common? They all have the stuff you can’t hit the gym without! (And probably a bunch of loose hair ties at the bottom too.)
Being a Crossfitter, my gym bag may have some extra stuff the average workout bag doesn’t have. Crossfit can be pretty tough on your joints, hands, and body in general, so it helps to have some equipment at the ready for those days you just need it. Not all equipment is for everyone – for example, I don’t love wearing straps during pull-ups! I can’t seem to get the grip right. And not everyone likes wearing a lifting belt. But hey, that’s what makes us all individuals – and fitness, for everyone, is very individual.
My Crossfit gym essentials
Crossfit-appropriate shoes! I’m always wearing one pair, and stashing the other in my bag in case I need them. I wear my Metcons for most workouts where I need to move quickly, and my Romaleos on Olympic lifting days (or workouts that are very Oly-heavy!) My Metcons were a limited edition colorway around Christmas time so I don’t think they’re available anymore (I love the copper color!) BUT they have tons of customizable options so you can make your own! Both of these shoes are available in men’s and women’s sizi
ng and colors.
My lifting belt. Rogue is a pretty hot thing to any Crossfitter, but especially here in Columbus, OH, where they hail from! The brand new headquarters (complete with a retail front, warehouse, AND manufacturing facility) is just a quick walk from my house. All of our garage equipment is from Rogue, too! Lifting belts help give support to your midsection and lower back during heavy lifts – not everybody wears them, but I like them for heavy squats and deadlifting days.
Grips I personally have a love-hate relationship with. Love? Not ripping my hands to shreds on the speal bar (the middle bars on the rig that are worn / textured and often a bit rusty!). Hate? Not getting a grip AT ALL, which seems to be a problem I have when I wear grips! Either mine aren’t worn in correctly, or my physical hand grip strength is weak (which is very likely … ). My friends swear by these, so I think it’s me! I own this pair but to be perfectly honest the straps around the wrists are a bit uncomfortable because they are not left-right designated, so the buckle is on the same side no matter what. To make them more comfortable, you can wear sweat bands on your wrists (or just buy a different pair).
Knee sleeves help keep your knees warm and limber when you do lots of squatting movements, and they offer stabilization and a bit of protective compression. Again, another thing not everyone is going to love wearing, but I personally do! Your knees can take a beating between all the lunges, squats, and box jumps you do in Crossfit, not to mention literally banging them on the floor during burpees, so sleeves can be nice. Mine are by Hookgrip.
Wrist wraps give stiff stabilization to your wrists during overhead movements like the push press, jerk, or overhead squat. My main complaint when I first started Crossfit was wrist pain … terrible wrist pain. I was worried I’d have to scale back my classes to heal! I think if I didn’t have wrist wraps, my hands would have cracked right off at the joint and I’d be left with stumps. However that didn’t happen, and the happy ending to this story is I just needed to wrap them HIGH and TIGHT (like literally over the joint), and foam roll my forearms! That last part really saved my poor wrists. My wraps are stiff and thick – which I really like. You can also buy more flexible wraps.
Lifting straps were one of the first things I got back when I started deadlifting at home in our garage. Andrew bought them for me as a Valentine’s Day present, believe it or not! These go around your wrist just like wrist wraps, but have a strap that extends towards the palm of your hand – which you wrap around the barbell or a dumbbell – and it gives you extra grip strength for extremely heavy weight. You definitely want to make sure you lift without these, too, however – you need to train grip strength! But for a tough lift, these help a TON. I don’t use these a lot in Crossfit – more for at-home heavy lifting days. They take a few seconds to set up and there isn’t time for that in a WOD!
The L2 (level 2 Crossfit) list. This is a giant list of achievements I would love to hit in the next year or two! It will take a while, but I’m determined. You can see my progress here (and where the red boxes are, those are L2 requirements!)
Resistance bands are great for warming up your joints (and burning the hell out of your glutes) and come in a variety of weights or difficulties. Your Crossfit gym will have these, as well as some much thicker types for hanging off the rig (for stretching or assistance during dips and pull-ups). I love putting these around my knees for squatting and keeping my knees driving outwards, or walking sideways for some lateral glute work! Also great to grab both ends and stretch apart, to warm up your shoulder joints.
Speed ropes are coveted by Crossfitters for doing double-unders (jumping rope where the rope makes two full rotations every jump). Bearings at the end of the handles allow for speedy turning, and a wire coated cable adds weight for easy spinning. 1000% not the same as the striped plastic ropes from gym class in school! Note: these do not like to roll up nicely in my bag!
Chalk is a must-have in a Crossfit gym (though I really wish I used it more BEFORE Crossfit, too!) There will be buckets of this in your box for you to use. Chalk helps keep your hands dry and enhance grip when you’re soaking in sweat (which, I promise, you will be). I’m pretty sure we just have this stuff. Don’t spend a fortune on this – it gets used up pretty quickly! Also, if you bring your own, double bag it or you will have fine white powder covering everything you own in about a second flat.
Tape is another good essential. It’s not the kind of tape you’re used to – it’s made of cotton! We bought a giant box of it so we’re set in case the apocalypse comes. Use it to wrap wrists, palms, or fingers that are prone to rubbing and blistering, or just to add support. You’ll figure out quickly where you personally want to use tape as soon as you start Crossfit!
Pre wrap is something I just like to keep on hand – it makes a good headband in a pinch if you forgot one, and it’s soft and comfortable for wrapping under wrist straps or tape. (Remember when this was the “cool” thing to wear on your head in high school?!) Tip: If I have a torn palm, I’ll put a patch of this on the tear before wrapping with tape, so I don’t have to rip tape off of a wound later!
And the thing in the top of that photo? Definitely not an essential for everybody – that’s my inhaler. I unfortunately have exercise-induced asthma which is frustrating and limiting but I do what I can. My inhaler absolutely helps me because I haven’t died yet – though I STILL feel like I can’t breathe whatsoever when we do burpees or assault biking. Imagine what I’d feel like without it!
Lastly, not pictured is my water bottle but this is a million times over a MUST. But hopefully you just assumed I bring one of those to the gym!
What’s in your gym bag? What can’t you leave for the gym without? Anything you tried and absolutely loved? Tell me!