Let me preface – every athlete and every coach is different. You’ll hear as many opinions as there are people in the box. Today, I’m giving you what’s in my bag as an athlete (and all the pics are directly from it), my bag as a coach at a competition supporting my athletes is considerably different and we’ll hit on that another time. For now, I give you the Top 10 Things in My Gym Bag…
1. The bag itself:
I like all my stuff in one place, all kept together. Far too often as a coach, I catch someone running back to their car for a rope, or for shoes, or for whatever as class is starting. If you keep it all together, all the time, your life becomes simpler. And simple is easy.
My bag is an Ogio duffel, I even bought it on sale when I found it. It’s not the fanciest or most expensive bag out there, and I’ve had an identical one from my rugby days for nearing on 10 years. But this one has my name on it, which is pretty handy for finding it in a group, and it has the Fringe logo on, which I dig. I’ve also had the most basic $5 bag you can find at any department store, all the way up the rather pricey King Kong bag. They all have pluses and minuses. My point here remains that having all of your gear in one place is what’s most important and saves you both time and energy.
If you’ve ever been in one of my classes, you’ve noticed I’m a bit of a shoe whore. I admit it. I have a problem. But in my bag I always have one pair of shoes. This is because they haven’t been compressed by my weight and walking all day, they’re fresh, and they’re clean of the weather outside. Nothing is worse than getting mud all the over box and being “that guy”.
What kind of shoes? Well chances are high they’re Nanos, but they don’t have to be! It’s important for your shoes to have a stable base, meaning they’re not squishy or overly padded. Why you ask? Because we lift heavy shit. We want to have a super stable platform for pulling and squatting to put our limbs in the most advantageous position possible
Not the best: Brooks running, Newtons, Mizuno running, Nike shox (think thick, padded shoes with a tall heel)
Better: Converse all-stars, New Balance Minimus, Nike Metcon, Reebok Nano
*What didn’t I mention? Weightlifting shoes. I do not think they are a necessity for most CrossFitters. They’re a luxury. And unless you’re looking to become a competitive Oly lifter or have severe mobility restrictions, they’re probably a pricey unneeded purchase.
3. Jump Rope
Do you have double unders? Are you actively working on them? One of the easiest ways to improve on this basic skill is to have a rope that’s sized for you and you alone. Yes, we have house ropes at Fringe and we try and replace them as needed, but they’re sized for a range of heights, not your specific measurement.
What kind of rope? Again, I ask do you have double unders? If not, a speed rope probably isn’t the best option for you. It’s too light and you can’t “feel” where the rope is so you never know where you’re missing your jump. Both JumpNRope and RX jump ropes have great beginner level ropes. I’ve become partial to this rope, it’s inexpensive and has a good weight with fast handles. We have them at the box if you ever want to try one out.
Once you’ve “mastered” the skill, your choices explode with options. Most often in our box you’ll see the two aforementioned as well as a newer brand, RPM ropes. Prices range widely for these nicer ropes – but they have options to buy new cables on the cheap when you need to replace, which is a huge bonus.
4. Water Bottle
Duh. We preach hydration 24/7. Drink more water. If you’re like most, you’re not getting enough throughout your normal day. No, I’m not talking about mid-WOD, I’m talking about during the skill and strength and THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE DAY! You can’t hydrate in 10 mins people. Rule of thumb is drink half your body weight in ounces and then 4 more ounces for every 15 mins of physical activity. Example: “Murph” – roughly 45 min workout (4 oz * 3) – at 200# (100 oz) body weight means that athlete needs to drink at least 112 oz of water to maintain hydration status.
5. Tall socks/extra clothes
Like your shins? Tall socks are great for deadlift days and rope climb days. They put a layer of protection between you and the bar or rope and can really save you some skin!
Extra clothes – because I wear my shirt when I workout and post-WOD nothing feels yuckier than a wet blanket hugging you close.
For your hands, your thumbs, and wrists. Basic athletic tape, like $2 a roll, can be a life saver. Get a rip doing pull-ups, we can make a guard to let you keep WODing. Thumbs worn out from hook-gripping the bar, we can tape the length of it and save your skin. Wrist sore from overhead bar work or from handstands, we can tape support*.
*As a caveat, wrist wraps can also help with overhead and handstand positions, but we don’t want to become dependent on them and tape can achieve similar results, so I don’t consider part of my list for that reason.
7. Lacrosse Ball(s)/Mobility Aide (Roller)
Untack your tissues. Make them slide as they’re meant to. There are few areas that don’t improve from a couple of minutes spent with self-myofascial release (SMR). Make mobilityWOD your friend and make sure you’re taking of yourself post-WOD and at home. A couple lacrosse balls and a roller can open your t-spine, loosen your calves, strengthen your feet, and the list literally goes on and on… Another helpful inexpensive item to add is a good old fashion softball – just a little bigger and will let you get into some areas in a different way than the smaller lacrosse ball will.
Wait… That’s only 7 things. Well it turns out most of the things you see out there is consumerism at it’s finest. What do you need to do CrossFit? The right attitude and a willingness to learn and push hard. Sure there’s a lot of other gear out there that might help a little, but what it really comes down to is you against you. And if you show up daily, work hard, and listen to your coaches, you’re going to see results.
Do I have other things in my bag? Definitely. Some I love and use often, others I wasted money on would never get again. Again, this list is just a starting point and what I as an athlete feel help me be as successful as possible.