I made a new year’s resolution once that I would start going to the gym, so I visited a few gyms and decided that I would buy a treadmill instead. After the treadmill became a gathering place for piles of papers, boxes, and books, I decided that maybe I would give the gym another try, and so there became the issue of the gym bag. How big should the bag be? What needs to be in there? What’s up with these women (whom I envy, by the way), that come to the gym with a rolling suitcase? What do they keep in there? For two years I used the elusive gym bag as my excuse for not going to the gym. It was too heavy, or I didn’t know how the lockers would work, it was too expensive to buy duplicate beauty products. All excuses and all ridiculous, but obviously fitness was just a passing fancy for me. I didn’t really want to go to the gym because it isn’t just an hour of working out, it’s time to get there, and time to change, and time to shower afterwards, and figuring out how to fit everything I needed in a gym bag, so that I could seamlessly return to real life seemed impossible. I quickly got overwhelmed and decided that the gym wasn’t for me…and then I turned 40.

Being 40 meant that I gained weight more quickly, the doctor’s started talking to me about bone density and the benefits of weight bearing exercises. So, now a single mother of two, who had just returned to school for another degree, I had to figure out how to make working out fit into my life. I no longer had the treadmill because it wasn’t awarded to me in the divorce, and I could no longer afford to be picky about my gym options, so the campus gym it was. And now the gym bag really was an issue because it is one of about three bags that I need to spend the entire day on campus. I learned how to pack my bag and I broke down and bought duplicate beauty products. I struggled the first semester because the gym was nowhere near any other place on campus that I had to go; however, it gets easier. For me it got much easier when I moved off the waiting list and received my own gym locker. They even provided the lock. Now I only need to bring clothes and shoes back and forth to the gym, but I can leave shampoo, conditioner and soap at the gym.
People that have already made going to the gym a life habit have no idea how difficult it is for the rest of us to make that leap. But don’t be like me and let a gym bag hold you back. It’s difficult to set aside the two hours that it actually takes to go to the gym, but don’t sell yourself short. You are worth the effort, and as for the logistics of the gym bag dilemma: get a medium sized bag, with wheels if you will have a long distance to walk, and with a long shoulder strap if you can manage it. Bite the bullet and purchase duplicate beauty products, full sized if you have a locker, and travel sized if you have to bring your bag with you every day. Find out if your gym has a towel service because if it does, it’s one less thing you need to pack, and if not, bring one big towel and one towel or twist towel for your hair. Invest in a dry shampoo because you might not have to wet your hair every time, and definitely bring a pleasant smelling body wash.

The bottom line is that when it was important to me I figured it out, and if I can do it, I’m confident that anyone can. At my gym most of the people are at least half my age, but that’s only a problem if I make it one because none of them seem to care about my age, nor do they care what my gym bag looks like.

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