Health and Fitness

How to Pack It: Go from Home-to-Work-to-Gym-to-Date

The stuff of many an after-school treat from my 1970’s childhood. Not cute, though, in a closet reenactment decades later…

Remember those Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits from your childhood?  The ones where, when you twisted the canister with just the right level of tension, the dough would suddenly pop out in a gooey cloud, like a deployed air bag?  Long before the days of video games and biscuit bullet urban legends, that visual spectacle alone was considered high entertainment among the latchkey kid crowd.  Part toy, part tasty after-school treat.  All you needed was some warm butter, a little strawberry jam, and a rerun episode or two of The Brady Bunch (dating myself here), and your afternoon was golden.

Why yes, you say.  Good times.  But what does that have to do with this fitness post?

Everything, when that canister is now your favorite pair of jeans, and your stomach the dough that one day busts through and breaks the zipper while you’re trying desperately to join button to slit, all the while holding your breath like Houdini under water.  (Because we all know that makes a difference.)

Yeah.  Bummer.

Everybody who’s ever recommitted to an exercise program has a similar “Oh, hell no, this is the last straw” tale.  In the end, it doesn’t matter what drove you to finally get serious.  The point is, you’re fully plugged in now, and laser-focused on the work ahead.  Everything’s in place.  Gym membership – check.  Sports bra – check.  Water bottle – check.  You start scoping the gym facility and class hours, thinking about what time you have to be at work, how early you can dip out of work, calculating whether you have enough time to run home, shower and change before circling back to work, and oh, yeah, what about Tuesday and Thursday evenings when you have night classes and only 90 minutes to get there after you leave work…

And so begins the first few unraveling threads.  Yes?


Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. (Seneca, Roman Statesman, Philosopher, 5 BC – 65 AD).

There’s no luck involved in getting and staying in shape, or maintaining good health.  You either show up, or you don’t.  Every day.   And the answer, I learned, does not lie in how rigorous your exercise regimen is.  Consistency is the only measure that matters.  Can we all agree that 60 days of diligent exercise and careful eating, immediately followed by 60 days of slackdom and gluttony, yields the same outcome on Day 120, as it did on Day 1?   Your jeans don’t give a rat’s ass what happened in between, and will render the same judgment at either end.   (Sometimes worse.  See Pillsbury canister.)  Thus it seems foolish to let all our initial effort go to waste, if we’re ultimately not going to follow through in a way that counts and yields lasting results.

So, once you get serious about making exercise a regular and non-negotiable part of your new healthy lifestyle, you can’t let a little thing like logistics consistently derail your fitness efforts and cause you to neglect your health.

Make no mistake.  I’m not preaching from a lofty ivory tower here.  Through much of my own trial, error and occasional lapses into slackdom (to include MANY see-sawing weight loss/gain cycles), I’ve learned that setting and achieving fitness goals has nothing to do with intent, but is all about actively eliminating the source of all “can’t‘s” from my landscape, be they physical or mental.  And that meant being prepared to cram my workout into all the little narrow nooks and crannies of my daily life, and keep everything moving in one streamlined direction.  No backtracking to home base, criss-crossing or circular movements between Points A, B and C.

Plan it.  Pack it.  Park it.

Maybe it’s my former life as a Lean Six Sigma-trained process improvement geek, but it irks me to be stuck with a clunky process that creates waste on multiple fronts…time, travel and lost opportunities.  When I’d finally had enough of skipped workouts due to tight scheduling, I made my own Home-to-Work-to-Gym-to-Date (“PPP”) mobile kit to eliminate obstacles (the “can’t‘s) and keep my fitness program on track.   Nothing new, really, and I’m sure many of you fellow gym warriors have developed a similar system.  But for those who haven’t, here’s how it works:

  • Plan It.  Figure out everything you need to go from post-workout (sweaty and funky) to conference-room worthy (scrubbed, polished and chic), with minimal fuss, effort and time.  Take a tip from flight attendants:  invest in a spare toiletry kit, using travel-sized containers and beauty tools that you’ll never need to touch for everyday home use.   Some of you may be tempted to cut corners and save money by simply transferring your regular suite of home products back and forth.  Go ahead, try it.  (We all have.)  Sounds good in theory, but let me tell you what will ACTUALLY happen.  Not only will you be weighing yourself down with extra bulk, but constantly packing and unpacking all that stuff (and getting flustered during your AM rush trying to remember what to re-pack) will soon become a huge chore in itself…and one that your subconscious will soon start seeking ways to rid itself of.  As in, finding excuses to avoid the entire process, leading you to skip the day’s workout altogether.  Instead, learn to view the system as a solid investment, since it can also double as your grab-and-go kit for weekend getaways and vacations.  Check out the pictures below to see how I was able to cram up to 20 different items in a compact toiletry bag.

  • Pack It.  Invest in a solid, quality bag of your choosing.  My bag of choice is the Luxx made by 360 Live Well, expensive but worth every dime because it takes the place of four other pieces of luggage (gym/studio bag, laptop bag, weekend/overnight duffel, and airline carry-on), features superior construction and tons of organizational pockets (including a vented shoe and wet clothes compartment), and is the only bag I’ve found in its class that features an external yoga mat solution that doesn’t use up any of the bag’s volume.  Also, for $24, grab yourself a Pack-It Folder, which will allow you to throw an ironed outfit in your bag and keep it wrinkle free and ready to wear right out of the gym shower.


  • Park It.  Keep this bag ready-packed and strategically placed at the point you need it.  That means in the trunk of your car if you drive to work, or in the foyer of your house or apartment where you can grab it on the way out in the morning.  “But I take public transportation to work.  You mean I have to haul this bag with me on the train/bus?”  Don’t care, and yes, in that order.  (See how quickly our minds look for the escape hatch, by throwing up “can’t’s?)    You don’t complain about having to cart your laptop and other work essentials back and forth on your commute.  How much more important is your health?  Without which, I might add, little else matters.   (Just talk to someone who has lost theirs.  I’m sure they’d tell you they would have gladly trekked miles with a gym bag on their back, for the chance to get it back.)

After your workout, move with purpose in the locker room.  Set up your area, and work processes in parallel (i.e., put hot curlers in BEFORE you get in the shower so that your hair can set and semi-air out at the same time.)  Remember the concept of “good enough.”  This is not the time nor place to demand or expect the model perfection you’d normally seek at home.  Your hair and makeup don’t need to be runway perfect.  (And with that post-workout glow your skin will have, why would you need to even bother trying?)  With practice, to include perfecting the art of the 5-minute shower, you should be able to get in and out of the gym locker room within 20-25 minutes.  And on to the adjacent item in your day planner.

In closing, mastering the PPP system will finally allow you to move through your day in one continuous linear flow, with no time or workout opportunities wasted.  It works whether you exercise before or after work.  (Personally, I’m a big proponent of AM workouts, but that’s the subject of another post.)  Most importantly, it leaves no time or space for the “inertia gremlins” to step in.  You know what I’m talking about.  You leave work with the intention of stopping by the house to change into your workout gear and grab a quick snack, before heading back out to your local gym.  Once you turn your key in the front door and shut it behind you, the house begins to work like virtual quicksand, sucking you in deeper.  Your refrigerator, which reminds you of the tasty leftovers waiting to be prepared for dinner.  Your favorite comfy armchair in front of the TV.  The warmth of the heat coming through the vents, in contrast to the cold winds blowing outside.  Before you know it, you’ve lost 30 minutes moving around your house in circles, getting psychologically farther and farther away from the workout you’d be doing right now if only you hadn’t stopped at home first to collect “your stuff.”

To Summarize:

  • Eliminate all non-essential movements.
  • Get over any squeamishness you may feel about showering in public, gym locker facilities.  Two words: shower shoes.  (Your ratty flip-flops from last summer will do fine.)
  • Walk with everything you need to go from sweaty and funky, to fresh and sleek in 20 minutes flat.

What’s in my gym bag? All this. (An entire work outfit is in the red pack-it folder, next to the grey suede boots.)

Some other handy travel-sized tools in my mobile gym kit:

Read more from HotYogaChick at

Follow Christelyn on Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you want to be a little more about this online dating thing, InterracialDatingCentral is the official dating site for this blog.