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How to Get Ready at the Gym

It's the key to maintaining a consistent workout routine.

I love working out—for me, there's nothing more important for my mental (and physical!) health. But if there's one thing I dread, that makes me seriously consider pressing "snooze" and forgetting barre ever happened, it's what happens directly before and after a workout. Getting out the door for a 6 a.m. class, then speed-showering in flip-flops, and getting dressed and ready in a sweaty locker room is enough to make for a less-than-ideal morning. But, with a few small tweaks, I've honed my routine to the point that I actually prefer it to getting ready at home. While it takes me upwards of 45 minutes to get ready at home, I can get out the door in under 20 from the gym, with minimal hassle. Here are my tips for getting ready:

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As much as I love mornings, my brain isn't even close to firing at 100% before the sun rises. When I have to pick out my clothes in the morning (which usually amounts to me fumbling in the dark trying my best not to wake up my boyfriend), it takes me twice as long to get out the door. To streamline the process, I set out my gym clothes to quickly change into them, and put my clothes, shoes, gym bag, lunch bag, and everything I need for the day right by the door—with my car keys on top of the pile so all I have to do is grab and go.

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Half the battle is just getting out your front door, but creating a 'treat' for yourself before you even get to the gym works wonders. This could be cold brew in a to-go cup you prepped the night before (I keep this ready-made Bulletproof coffee in my fridge for mornings I'm really struggling), a mandarin you eat on the way there, a new album you've been waiting to listen to, or a daily morning email like TheSkimm to read on the train. The idea is that when your alarm goes off, you aren't thinking, "Ugh I have to go work out," you're thinking, "I get to have cold brew!" I always queue up The Daily podcast the night before and use a Bluetooth SoundLink so I don't even have to open my phone—I just click a button and go (every bit of extra effort feels monumental in the A.M.). As a result, driving to the gym is one of my favorite parts of the entire day. 

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There's nothing worse than getting out of a class and realizing you forgot to bring a bra for the day (it only takes washing a sweaty sports bra in the sink and wearing it, wet, under your clothes during a New York City winter to never forget a bra again—promise). To avoid bad hair days and wearing your sweaty leggings because you forgot pants (yep, true story again), I suggest keeping extra sets of the following essentials in your gym bag: compact hair brush, skin-colored thong (so it can go under anything, including white jeans), skin-colored bra (same), hair ties, and inexpensive black flats.

If you have a car, keep a full set of both daily clothes and gym clothes in your trunk. Not only is this useful for mornings when you forget something, but also means you'll be prepared for unexpected plans, like joining friends for a spin class after work or heading to a last-minute concert after an evening workout. 

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Whether you take ten minutes or an hour to get ready, be realistic and plan accordingly, because running out of a workout class without stretching is a great way to get an injury, and adds unnecessary stress! I find that the benefits of waking up for an extra-early class and giving myself a time buffer far outweigh a few extra snoozes.

P.S., While locker rooms are the busiest between 7:30 am and 8:30 am, they tend to be nearly empty from 6:30 am to 7:30 am which is an added incentive to get there early!

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At home, I'll take my time with my routine—applying a serum, SPF, lotion, and eye cream before I even start with makeup—allowing each time to sink-in. At the gym, I keep every step of my beauty routine to a minimum, using as many multi-tasking products as possible. I streamline my routine by limiting myself to the following five products: a hydrating SPF, foundation, mascara, brow gel, and highlighter. (I keep a lipstick at my desk if I need a little extra something once I'm at work!) For hair, I use a flat brush to blow-dry, then add waves if I have an extra few minutes, and finish it with Oribe's Texurizing Spray.

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Refueling and rehydrating after a tough workout is key. Always bring a refillable water bottle and, if possible, keep some breakfast essentials at your office (I'm a huge fan of making salmon-avocado toasts). In addition, carry a few snacks in your purse or gym bag so that you're ready if hunger strikes. I keep a small pouch in my car stocked with RX Bars, these protein-packed vegan jerky strips, cashews, and matcha powder (in case of caffeine emergencies). 

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At the beginning of the week, I go through my schedule and choose workouts, looking ahead to possible obstacles: If I have late after-work plans, I'll book a class for the following evening instead of morning; if I have an early meeting, I'll choose a class I don't sweat in, like barre or yoga, so I don't have to wash and blow-dry my hair (here's my guide to workout classes). Setting goals and being proactive about potential obstacles makes it easier to stick to a consistent routine. I use my gym's app and Classpass to create a calendar of classes, but you can also create a new Google Calendar specifically for workouts to help keep everything organized! 

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Locker rooms can be scary places in the morning—everyone is in a rush to get through their routines and get to work, and the line for the showers is dog-eat-dog. So be nice! Don't run to the showers to beat someone else, take up only as much space as you need to do your makeup, ask if anyone's using the hair drier before grabbing it, and don't be Moses parting the seas of toweled women to get to your locker. Even the smallest interaction—whether negative or positive—has the ability to set the tone of someone's entire day. Make it a good one! 

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Since I get ready at the gym most weekday mornings, I made it a priority to join a gym with a beautiful locker room, which makes all the difference. If you're touring a gym, be sure to ask some basic questions, "Are towels and shampoo provided at all of your locations?" "How busy does it get here in the morning?" so you can plan accordingly. If you class hop between studios, calling ahead is the best way to learn about the available facilities. A Yelp or Classpass page that says "Showers Available" can mean anything from a spigot attached to a sink faucet, to a locker room with all the bells and whistles. Make sure you're prepared for whatever it is!

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If you're taking a class at night, the pressure isn't quite as on but there are still a few things you can do to make it a better experience. Wash your face beforehand: Removing makeup before you work out minimizes breakouts. I like to do this and change into gym clothes at the office so all I have to bring to class is a water bottle and my car keys. Keep face wipes in your car or purse: If you plan on showering at home, briefly wipe your face post workout to avoid blemishes from dried sweat (cute, right?). If you plan on showering at the gym, invest in a post-workout robe: The last thing I want to do after a hard evening class is squeeze back into skinny jeans or work clothes. Instead, I shower and throw on a post-workout robe. It's quick, easy and does the job till I get home. 

How to Get Ready at the Gym_Gym Bag Checklist
How to Get Ready at the Gym_For Your Workout

Sports bra
Tank top: Honestly, usually this is just an old t-shirt! But I love this tank from Lululemon. 
Leggings: Varley makes my favorite!
Sneakers & insoles:
I wear the nerdy kind, with great arch support, but I love the look of these.
Water bottle: I prefer using a bottle I can drink from easily on the treadmill!
Headphones: I recently purchased these, a variation on the version Emily uses, and love them—the sound quality is great, they stay in while I run, and they're wireless, so I don't have to worry about my hand hitting them on the treadmill.
ipad / book / magazine: This is optional, but I always make sure I have some sort of entertainment in case I decide to skip a class to walk on the treadmill. 
Phone: I prefer group classes, but I occasionally use apps like Nike Run Club and Sweat by Kayla Itsines to workout on my own.

How to Get Ready at the Gym_Hair & Beauty

Shower Sandals: When I lost my trusty PINK shower shoes from college (RIP), I bought these. I love them because they're sturdy enough that I can keep them in my gym bag to throw on if I'm going to a barre or yoga class. 
Shampoo & Conditioner: Many gyms, including the one I go to, provide these—but make sure to bring your own if they don't! 
Face Wash: Even though my gym provides soap, I bring my own face wash since my face is sensitive. I like this one from Caudalie.
SPF: I love using a few drops of this, which I found at Credo, because it's natural and so hydrating I don't also need to use face lotion in addition to it. 
Foundation (and foundation brush): I use this option from Juice Beauty because it's easy to apply quickly, natural, and provides enough coverage that I don't need to also bring concealer.
Mascara (and lash curler)
Brow Gel
Hair brush

Oribe's Texurizing Spray
Blow Dryer:
My gym provides blow dryers, but BYO if yours doesn't! 
Curler: I keep mine in a sheath that came with my Lululemon duffel but I've seen someone put theirs under cold water to cool it down before putting it in their bag (has anyone else tried this?)

How to Get Ready at the Gym_Clothes for the Day

Shirt / Pants / Dress / Layers

How to Get Ready at the Gym_Snacks & Hydration

Whatever you prefer! I love: RX Bars, protein-packed vegan jerky stripscashews, and matcha powder (in case of caffeine emergencies). 

How to Get Ready at the Gym_Misc

Cloth bag for sweaty workout clothes: Keep your sweaty unmentionables separate so you can toss them into the laundry as soon as you get home, and don't need to use plastic bags, which are sometimes provided by gyms. 
Pilates socks: I keep these in my bag for barre classes.
Extra set of contacts or glasses
Extra hair ties
Coffee mug: I make Bulletproof coffee most mornings, and this mug keeps it hot till I'm done with my workout. 

P.S., Here's a printable version to tuck into your bag! And here are Emily's workout essentials

How to Get Ready for the Gym Hero

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