What’s in Your Gym Bag??
When you first walk into a gym, it can be incredibly intimidating. There is a lot to take in and the sweating, shouting, grunting members walking around can only add to one’s discomfort. Eventually, you come to find yourself as one of them and enjoy the chaos that once filled you with uncertainty. But then you start to notice what the vets have and you do not.
Why are people always changing in and out of shoes?? What is that man doing to thumbs? Where can I get me one of those belts? Why do her knees smell so bad?
All of these questions may have crossed your mind at one point or another.
This article is here to clear up the unknowns about what is a must in your gym bag, starting from the bottom of the body and working our way up.
In CrossFit, we are constantly working to engage the posterior chain. Underdeveloped would be a gentle way of describing the state of most people’s backside when they first walk in the door. Most people also walk in the door in running shoes, typically designed to put us in our toes. We want the opposite in our classes. We want you to be in control of where you are putting the weight in your foot, not wantonly rolling forward to your shoe’s content. So we recommend a shoe with a flat sole and a minimum heel to toe drop (a measure of how much higher the heel is than the toe in the show).
Our recommendations: Reebok CrossFit Nanos, Nike MetCons, and Inov-8 Lites. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a good start and the shoes we see most often walking in and out of the gym.
Priority: Low to Medium
If you plan to take Olympic Weightlifting seriously, then we definitely recommend these shoes. If you are more here for general health and well being, then save yourself a few bucks. Weightlifting shoes are designed to give you a slight lift in your heel to make squatting easier while also creating a super flat and hard sole. You will find the best weightlifting shoes (most expensive/those that the Olympians wear) are a lot heavier than a standard shoe. Companies are now making lighter versions that are more of a hybrid shoe for CrossFit athletes who want to be able to lift then jump rope in the same workout without having to change shoes (a pure weightlifter would laugh at such a proposition).
Our recommendations: Pure Olympic Lifting – Nike Romaleos, Adidas AdiPower. Hybrid: Reebok CrossFit Lifter
Priority: Medium to High
These are great to have for many reasons. Having a solid high sock is great for deadlift and rope climbs days when there is a good chance you will have some equipment to skin contact. To protect yourself from a nasty scrape or burn, a long sock is a must! If you are super duper into rope climbs, you can go so far to get a rope guard that resembles a shin guard from your youth soccer days. Socks are also great to have as back up for those days that you forget to toss a pair in with your clothes and are wearing sandals to work and think about skipping your workout altogether. Long socks to the rescue!
Our recommendations: Rx Smart Gear Shin Guards, any tall socks
Priority: Low to Medium
Again, you must evaluate your goals when considering a lot of these pieces of equipment. Knee sleeves are great to give you some compression on your knees for squatting and Olympic Lifting. That compression can help give you a little spring out of the bottom of a squat, some light support, keep you warm between sets, and increase blood flow to the area to aid in recover. They are not knee braces and should not be used as a band-aid for sore knees instead of consulting a medical professional or your good friends the lacrosse ball and foam roller.
Our recommendations: Rehbands, Exosleeve
Priority: Low to Medium
I will keep saying it. This depends on your goals. If you have dreams of competing, then a weight belt can be particularly helpful. The goal of a belt is not to replace your core but to help you in activating it. We typically use weight belts to assist in really heavy lifts but they should not be used every single day with every movement at every weight, then it becomes a crutch rather than a helpful tool. The recommendations below are just a few examples of belts out there. The big difference you will find is whether the belt uses Velcro or a belt buckle. The Velcro is a great option for anyone looking to use this more in CrossFit like workouts where you may be transitioning between weightlifting movements and body weight movements (ain’t nobody got time to undo a belt buckle).
Our recommendations: Pure Weightlifting – Rogue Ohio (leather belt, more expensive, high quality) Hybrid – Harbinger Humanx (cloth, Velcro)
Many people will complain of having sore hands when they begin working out with us and some never really find the solution. Ideally, we will build up calluses over time to help protect our hands but then comes to process of taking care of those calluses. We recommend using a pumis stone or razor to shave away at the callus to keep them from ripping off. Some will find that gloves or grips are helpful for them. I have heard of people having the worst rips of their life while wearing these sorts of things so be careful to find the right fit for you. To save yourself some money first, try using medical tape to make yourself grips to see how you like them, from there you can go on to try out gloves or grips!
Our recommendations: Reebok CrossFit Gloves, Bear Komplex Grips, The Natural Grip
These can be great for people who are struggling with wrist pain. A wrist wrap can help provide you with a little bit of support for movements overhead like the snatch, jerks, and presses. They should not be used in place of a solid mobility routine, but they can be very helpful at heavier loads and on days where you just can’t even. A cloth wrist wrap is a great option for a workout that may involve an overhead movement along with something else. They allow you to tighten and loosen the wrap for more or less support depending on the movement you are doing without having to take them off entirely.
Our recommendations: Rogue Wrist Wraps, Crimson Tate Wrist Wraps (available at Practice Indie!)
We provide jump ropes at every location but it does not take long for people to grow frustrated with the tangled mess of ropes and the challenge of finding the right size. We use jump ropes on a fairly regular basis and having a good rope at the correct size for you can be the difference between success and failure in a jump rope workout. It is very much worth it to have your own rope that will always fit you and last a long time on hand instead of hoping to the jump rope gods that you find one that works for you on jump rope day.
Our recommendations: RX Jump Rope, RPM Speed Rope, Again Faster Speed Rope
Personal Mobility Device:
Having a lacrosse ball in your gym bag or purse is a fabulous idea. It is small but mighty in its ability to get shit done. We really recommend having one in your car, on your bedside table, at your desk, and in your pocket at all times. The more of them you have, the more likely you are to use them!
Our recommendations: Any sporting goods store for a lacrosse ball and/or softball.
Other things you may want to toss in:
Deodorant, hair ties (ladies, you never know when you are going to need one!), an extra set of clothes, a (non perishable) snack, and a water bottle.
We hope that this gives you a bit of guidance on getting your gym bag started on the right foot. If you ever have questions about any of this equipment or our personal favorite brands, never hesitate to ask! Our staff is full of experience and knowledge ready to drop at any time if you just ask.