Have you ever arrived home from the gym only to find that you left something there? Or worse yet, you didn’t realize you left an item there until you couldn’t find it, and by that time it was no longer in the lost-and-found? I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have had both of these things happen to me. Just off the top of my head I can tell you that I have lost a swimsuit, swim bottoms, goggles, as well as all of my toiletries. It’s very frustrating not only because losing things can get expensive, but it is also a big disruption to my routine when I have to go buy something before I can go to the gym again.
Several months ago I tried to figure out what I could do to solve this problem. The more I thought about it, I realized that what I was doing at work would help me in this situation as well. I work as a phlebotomist (I draw blood for lab tests) and we have to make sure that we do specific things to identify each patient and prevent germs from being spread. The first hospital that I worked at trained us to follow a very specific routine so that we wouldn’t forget to do anything. What was great about it was that once I had the routine down, I never had to worry whether I had forgotten to do any of the numerous things that I was required to do. And if I got interrupted mid-process, I was able to go back to the point where I had left off, and I knew immediately that I had completed everything up to that point.
Now obviously the routine I follow at work has nothing to do with the routine I now follow at the gym other than the fact that it’s a predesigned routine that helps me remember to do everything. But I am being totally honest when I tell you that since I started following a routine at the gym, I haven’t left anything behind. The specifics of a routine are less important than the concept of being organized and doing things in a specific order. The routine that works for you might be completely different than what works for me, but consistency is the key.
I realize this may be a bit tedious for some of you, but for those of you who want the details of what works for me, keep reading. My routine is dependent on having an organized gym bag with “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” I use a large backpack designed for swimming which I would highly recommend. The outside has two zippered pockets and two net pockets, and there are two compartments inside. I also have a toiletry bag that I store inside the backpack. In the toiletry bag I keep full-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel (so that I don’t have to constantly refill small bottles). I store my swim cap and goggles in the toiletry bag as well. In the front zippered pocket, I keep some makeup (mascara, eyeshadow, lip gloss), makeup remover pads, deodorant, and a small hairbrush. Finally, I keep my locker padlock in the left net pocket
When I want to go to the gym, all I have to worry about is a towel and whatever I am going to wear to and from the gym. Since I generally wear my swimsuit to the gym (underneath my clothing), I just put my underwear in the backpack and throw in a towel. Once I get to the gym, everything is removed and replaced in a very specific order. First, I find an empty locker. I hang up my jacket, put my clothes in the backpack, and put my phone and keys in the upper zipped pocket. I remove the towel and toiletry bag. The padlock is in the outer pocket so I remove it and lock the locker. I go to the mirror and put on my swim cap and goggles (remember that they are in the toiletry bag that I have with me). I walk out to the pool and hang up my toiletry bag and hang my towel on top of it. Once I’m finished swimming, I head to the showers with my towels and toiletry bag. I remove my cap, goggles and hair elastic, and put them in the toiletry bag. I remove the shampoo, conditioner and soap from the bag and put them in the shower. After the shower I put the toiletries back in the bag. I wrap up in a towel and head to my locker. On the way there, I spin-dry my swimsuit. After I open the locker, I immediately put my padlock in the left net pocket, my swimsuit in the right net pocket, and my toiletry bag back in the pack. After I get dressed I put my towel in the back inside section of the pack. I dry my hair and put on a little makeup. As I walk out to my car, I know exactly where to find my phone and keys. When I get home I throw my clothes and towels in the washer so that they will be ready to go next time.
As I said before, sticking to this routine has solved my problem of forgetting things at the gym. I would really encourage you to try this. You can follow my routine or make up one that works for you. Just remember to make a place for everything and remove and replace things in a specific order. Give it a try and let me know if this works for you.