Post Gym Rage Syndrome
June 25, 2015 3:13 AM   Subscribe

What's up Mefites! Please can you share with me your post gym routine hacks - basically, how can I make the process of showering and getting ready for work after my morning workout less time-consuming?

I feel like a fool posting this question! Apologies for the length.

I'm a woman with an office job so I need to look relatively put together after the gym. I go to the gym in the morning 3 days a week before work, on weekdays.

I have a HUMONGOUS dedicated gym backpack which I lug to work on gym days. It is massive and taking it to work on crowded London transport is, as you can imagine, a joy. I keep a dedicated bag of normal-sized toiletries and make-up in it, as well as towel, gym flip flops, change of clothes, change of shoes. The toiletries I use are: 2-in-1 bodywash and shampoo (which I also use as a facewash, probably shouldn't), hair product, deodorant, body lotion, face cream.

At my old gym you could just get changed in front of your locker which made life much easier but the layout of this gym is very annoying as the lockers and changing rooms and showers are all in separate areas. This involves much ferrying of things back and forth, and inevitably forgetting things. My post-gym routine is:
1. Finish workout, exult.
2. Go to locker, take out backpack.
3. Take backpack to changing room, take out shower stuff, take shower stuff into shower.
4. Shower.
5. Take shower stuff out of shower. Go to changing room. Change. Put shower stuff into backpack, take out make up and hair stuff, take that into different room with mirrors and hairdryers.
6. Do hair and make up. Go back to changing room. Put hair and make up stuff into backpack.
7. Go back to locker for coat, backpack, other stuff, leave.

As you can see there are a lot of steps. I often forget things so have to go back and forth a fair bit. That's where the rage comes in.

I unfortunately don't have the option of hiring a locker at the gym and keeping stuff in it. I could keep things at work if I needed to. I also do not have the option of finding a new gym - this one is right next door to my office and I get a discount. Finally, I need to stick with the morning workout routine - I would never do it otherwise.

I'm relatively new to the whole gym thing (6 months). Is this something you just get used to? I'm sure the pros among you must have found ways of smooshing together various tasks so you don't have to spend so much time taking out things, putting things away, and going back and forth. Now that I've outlined my post gym routine in mind-numbing detail, I'd be interested to hear how the pros among you do it, while still getting to work in a timely manner looking beautifully groomed. What are your secrets?

Bonus points for anyone who can tell me how you manage not to forget your locker token!
posted by Ziggy500 to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You know my solution? Work out after work. Or just cut out the gym altogether and work out at home.

It will never not be time consuming to get up, brush teeth, shower, put on sunscreen, pack a work outfit, put on gym clothes, go to gym, shower, put on deodorant and moisturizer and sunscreen and makeup, dress, dry and style hair, and repack gym bag before heading to the office.

Also, do you know how each and every one of my efforts to go to the gym before work turned out?

Set out for 15-minute drive (which would be a 45-minute walk). All the routes are closed for roadworks except one, which is blocked by an accident. 90 minutes later finally arrive at gym.

If I start my workout now I can be finished by 8:30. There is only one problem: the sign on the shower doors that explains the showers are closed for maintenance daily between 8:30 and 9:15. "There isn't anywhere else to shower, is there? So if I did my workout now I would have to go to work without showering first."
"You can change in the toilets downstairs, though."
"Yes, I understand that, but I was asking about showering, not changing. There are no showers except these, which are closed, right?"
[no answer, because God forbid anyone do anything as simple as answering a yes or no question]
[goes downstairs, changes into work clothes, styles hair, goes to work without working out first. gives up on gym as an entire waste of my time forever.]

Sorry, but it's always going to be time-inefficient to shower and dress twice in one morning, especially after fighting your way across a city of obstacles to get to your destination. so go in the evening is my advice.
posted by tel3path at 3:31 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your routine looks pretty optimal for the constraints you have given. You may just have to accept that it takes a bit longer than you'd like and maybe give yourself a little bit more time to get through it (could you arrive 20 minutes earlier say?).

Possible variations depending on what's available:
- is there a gym really near where you live? You could use that, then shower and change at home and then go to work?
- is there a shower at work? You could then keep a lot of your stuff at work and only have to bring clothes in every day.
posted by crocomancer at 4:12 AM on June 25, 2015

Only things I can think to optimize is moving to Travel sized toiletries, super absorbant camping towel, shoes stored at work, and dress in office clothes for journey to gym (gym clothes are more compact/who cares if they wrinkle) .

That would cut down on the size of your bag. I also might keep the gym makeup routine to just moisturizer and lipstick or eyeliner and keep extra makeup at the office, to do more only if I had a meeting that needed it. (Actually I've kind of realized that I can get away with just eyeliner and tinted moisturiser most days IF my eyebrows are in good shape)

Otherwise, you've optimised as much as you can I think.....
posted by larthegreat at 4:24 AM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm going to go a slightly alternate route and inquire specifically about the beauty routine stuff.

1. Hair - Are you just washing and leaving? Does your hair have to be blowdried and styled? Maybe you can slightly change your cut or style (and products) to where you can wash, blowdry 'til just damp, and then go, rather than if you need to meticulously blowdry straight with a round brush or something. There are also super water-absorbing microfiber towels for hair, and towel turbans like the Turbie Twist. Perhaps you could put your hair up in one of these post-shower, use that time to do your makeup while your hair dries in the towel, then style hair in less time since it's drier already.

2. Makeup - Also depending on your current product selection, can you find products that are multi-use or quicker? For example, if you currently use a powder foundation with a brush, can you use a BB cream or tinted moisturizer? Products you can use with your hands are usually quicker, and if they're combo products, you'll save on bag weight and space. Maybe use something like NARS The Multiple for cheeks and lips, and a cream eyeshadow or cream shadow stick product for eye shadow and liner in one. Finishing touches using a makeup bag kept at the office, if you desire. If you really want to trim down your makeup time, literally time your whole makeup routine while you're at home, and get really good at doing it. I can do my whole face (foundation, concealer, blush/highlight, eyeshadow, liner, mascara, brows), and be office-ready in 5-7 minutes while still sleepy and bleary-eyed, because I've practiced.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:43 AM on June 25, 2015

Keep your things separated into smaller bags within your larger bag. I like a combination of thin tote bags + Eagle Creek's travel accessories.

Once you get back to your locker, chuck your gym accessories and any clothes into a mesh bag. Keep a tote bag with a camp towel and travel-sized container of shampoo. Keep another tote bag that holds your work clothes. Keep a dopp kit for toiletries. The advantage is that you only have to keep track of one container per 'station', instead of digging up each item at a time.
posted by hooray at 4:49 AM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

Can you put all toiletries including hair and makeup stuff in one bag, take bag with you to shower, go directly to hair and makeup room and do your hair and makeup while wearing your towel, THEN go get dressed? Saves one trip to the changing room.
posted by evilmomlady at 4:51 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is it possible to switch to workouts that cause less sweat/need for showering? This has worked well for me (I also detest showering at the gym). I go to the gym four times a week. Three of those days I exclusively lift heavy and one I do sweaty cardio stuff. Lifting rarely causes me to sweat much (and I have a reasonably intense routine). This may not work if you're using your gym time to train for a marathon or something, but if you're just looking to be generally healthier than strength training is AWESOME.
posted by ethorson at 4:52 AM on June 25, 2015

in addition to the above suggestion to depot your toiletries into travel-sized portions (much recommended, for me personally), does your gym provide towel service? if it does, then I'd suggest leaving your towel at home. If not, switch to travel microfibre towel.

and since you say that the gym is actually next door to your office, then my suggestion is leave your shoes at the office, and come to office first, swap shoes and then go to gym. Keep most of your makeup at work too and apply at work (I'm assuming this is your second set of makeup, so you won't need to cart them off). Just moisturise and apply sunscreen/foundation before leaving the gym -- you'll probably be in early enough before most of the office.

Reading over your steps, since you can't do much about the layout of the changing room, instead of just one bag, have three separate bags for shower, toiletries and makeup. You'll be able to quickly grab what you need per stage and also keep a tally of what's in or out as you're done with each step/product.
posted by cendawanita at 5:56 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can keep those three bags in one bigger bag too, if you don't want to keep going back to the backpack, the kind that you can hang safely out of the way of the shower stream, or at least will not get the insides wet.
posted by cendawanita at 5:57 AM on June 25, 2015

Do you need the flip flops? I've been a gym-goer for a few decades and never bothered with flip flops, and haven't caught any diseases yet.

Do you need the shampoo? You could switch to a travel-sized bottle of soap for your pits & bits, don't use anything on your face other than water, and shampoo your hair on the days you don't work out.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:28 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Do you have your own office? If so, can you keep a set of your make-up there, and do it at your desk when you get into the office? Also, leave your work shoes at your desk and wear your gym shoes (or flip flops in the warm weather) for the walk from the gym to your office.

Definitely switch to mini versions of your toiletries. I basically use my gym toiletry bag as my liquids bag for flying, so everything in it is 400 ml or less (though mine doesn't include shampoo/body wash, since my gym provides that).

As for the actual step-by-step routine, I think you can streamline it by leaving your backpack in the locker, and taking things out of it instead of bringing it with you each time, per the suggestions above for all your things divided into bags. I also think you could potentially avoid the change room completely, or limited it to a single trip:

1. Finish workout
2. Go to locker room, take shower stuff from back-pack. [Consider taking clothing to change into as well]
2a. If the locker room isn't co-ed, is there a rule against changing out of your gym clothes into your towel there? If you can do this, you can change into your towel there, leave the gym clothes in your locker with your backpack.
3. If you're still in gym clothes, change out of them in the shower room [not sure why you have to go to the change room to do this]. If there are sufficient hooks by shower (assuming there are for towels), consider hanging the clothing you'll change into there as well.
4. Shower. When you're done, if you've brought changing clothes, dry off in the shower and change into them (maybe without changing shoes - wear flip flops or go barefoot). Alternately, go directly from shower to changing room with clothes to change into.
5. Go to locker, get make-up/hairbrush. Put on shoes. Go directly to room with mirrors, do make-up/dry hair.
6. Go to locker and get back pack, coat, etc. Leave for office.

I also agree that concern about Athlete's Foot and the need for flip flops has always seen overblown to me, and that I rarely bother with flip flops in gyms and locker rooms.
posted by Caz721 at 7:12 AM on June 25, 2015

what i do instead of fit flops is baby powder after drying my feet and wearing my shoes, which i also apply before wearing my bra and after my underwear. so that's one less thing (in my case I always carry baby powder anyway).
posted by cendawanita at 7:18 AM on June 25, 2015

I started going to the (very small, one-shower) gym a month ago, and though I usually go in the evening and shower at home, I can't imagine not having anything you already have post-work-out. I sweat so much, both when lifting and when doing cardio, that I invariably look like I just got out of the gym's long-lost swimming pool, so not showering or not shampooing isn't even a question. I'm assuming you're the same way and have already edited your hygienic gear to what is only essential.

I would focus on making your bag smaller; I've done a week-long trip with nothing more than a carry-on, and it sounds like your bag is bigger than that for a trip to the gym. A smaller bag will probably help keep you more organized and less likely to forget things; big bags overwhelm me, personally. Buy travel size bottles and dispense your regular products into those; full-size bottles take up way too much space. Also, anything you could keep at work would help decrease the size of your bag: your work shoes (wear your gym shoes or flip flops to the office), layers (e.g., a blazer/cardigan/etc), even make-up. Whatever you can do/keep at the office for the post-workout, do it. If you have a big fluffy towel, get a thinner one. Then, if you've made your bag more manageable to carry, then couldn't you just take the bag with you to each of the rooms, instead of lugging the individual items back and forth? I've never been to a gym that actually had a shower area, so I'm probably missing something. Lastly, I would definitely avoid, as much as possible, doing an office-->gym-->office thing. It's just an extra step that could break your gym routine.

(Also, don't feel like a fool for asking this question! Kudos for keeping on keeping on!)
posted by coast99 at 7:25 AM on June 25, 2015

I don't particularly have suggestions for how to streamline your routine, but honestly it might help to listen to podcasts while you go through whatever routine you settle on. I used to get really frustrated by having to go through the hair and toiletry and makeup routine every damn day, and then I started listen to BackStory while I get ready in the morning and I don't really mind anymore. So consider giving that a try in addition to some of these other suggestions—it can really help with the frustrated boredom.
posted by alycoop at 7:51 AM on June 25, 2015

Do you use gym towels or bring your own? Using a "squeegee" (I've used a kitchen bowl scraper when camping) to dry off might allow for bringing a smaller towel.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 8:03 AM on June 25, 2015

I sweat like a horse when I work out so I'm going to assume you're like me and really need to wash your hair, etc.

1) Travel sized reusable bottles. I like the squeezy silicone ones because it's easier to get the last dregs of shampoo/body wash out. Also, have duplicates of your favorite makeup products so that you can just leave them in your gym bag and not pack/unpack them every day. Accept that you may not be able to use every product you own on workout days and just pack the basics.

2) Have smaller zippered "packets" for shower stuff and makeup/hair stuff so that you can just grab the packet and take it into the relevant area without forgetting stuff and going back. This is another argument for travel sizes/duplicates--if you keep them packed all the time, you won't forget stuff and it will just be there when you need it.

3) OR you could leave your makeup at work and do it there.

4) Does the gym provide towels, even for a fee? That would save some room in your bag too.

5) Put the clothes you're planning to wear in those flat envelope things you can buy for luggage. It will facilitate packing, keep them from getting balled up in your backpack, and potentially save space in your pack.

6) Once you've smallified your bag you can just take the whole thing with you from place to place as you rotate through shower/changing room.

7) If I don't want to forget something at the gym I just have to put it on my body. I'm not sure if your locker token is something you get to take home or if it's something you get and give back at the gym, but those coil bracelet things have always worked for me. Leave bracelet in backpack,
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:10 AM on June 25, 2015

People have great suggestions. The one thing that I have really found with my workout routine is that if I've done a hard or long workout I am very hungry and for me this is low blood sugar time and I am CRANKY, I think the kids today say hangry. So it might help, in addition to this other stuff, if you brought something teeny to eat, just literally 100 calories of a banana or a few almonds or something, so that you haven't burned through all your food which would make everything more irritating. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 8:18 AM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Refillable travel size shampoo, soap, etc -- find a size that will last a week and two and refill on weekends.

I bike commute and keep a few pairs of work shoes at work. Occasionally I wish I had them at home, but it's easier this way.

I've thought about getting two sets of make up. Do you have space to leave things at work, like deodorant? It feels weird walking in without being totally ready, but you get over it.

Also think about what you could bring on non-workout days so you can carry less in workout days.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:35 AM on June 25, 2015

The only suggestion I can think of is leaving a makeup bag at work and finishing that step when you get to the office. This works for me because I'm usually the first one of my group to get in. Saves me a few minutes at home (I'm not doing the gym in the morning but trying to get a toddler ready/breakfasted/etc). Jessamyn might be on to something with the food suggestion as well.
posted by JenMarie at 9:16 AM on June 25, 2015

Disclaimer: I am a guy who keeps his hair cut short enough that I never have to style it ever, know nothing about makeup, etcetera. But I think my locker room layout is similar to yours, and I used to be a morning gym-goer. So, hopefully I can be of some assistance.

- Bring bag of makeup/hair styling apparatus to work and leave it there.
- Acquire a camping towel (which are very compact, dry quickly, and are generally amazing), and a shower cap.
- Wash hair the night before, or in the morning before leaving for the gym. Keep it tied back tightly to prevent the ends getting sweaty.
- Pack backpack with workout clothes, towel, shower cap, and anything you like to use on your body/face.

Daily Routine:
- Wear work clothes to gym. When you arrive, walk straight into the changing room and change into workout clothes. Take bag back to locker, place inside.
- Work out.
- Finish workout. Exult.
- Take backpack from locker into changing room. Remove shower stuff. Put on shower cap.
- Shower.
- Return shower stuff to changing room. Change. No need to revisit the locker room, because you only have the one backpack.
- Take backpack (next door?) to work, where your makeup and hair supplies are waiting. Do hair and makeup there.

If I understand your situation correctly, this should make things easier and allow you to carry way less stuff. If this does not work for you because I have misunderstood something - disregard!
posted by Urban Winter at 9:30 AM on June 25, 2015

I haven't seen anyone mention this, so will throw it out there: switch the shower for baby wipes? I use these Ban things sometimes (they're the same as the Biore powder sheets, as far as I can tell); something similar might be available in the UK?

Obviously it depends on how sweaty you get, and your tolerance for it. My routine is to wash my hands with the gym soap, splash my face with water, wipe down a little with my t-shirt, follow up with a wipe, and go straight to work. I only wash my hair a few days a week, anyhow, and, um, I seem to be OK? Another (very small) time and bag space saver is that I use the "clinical strength" deodorant you're supposed to apply at night, so I don't have to carry with me.

Even if you have to shower, could you just rinse off without using shampoo and soap? Less to carry, and not using soap means you shouldn't have to apply body lotion (which you would have applied before bed).

(re-reading this, I sound kind of grubby, but I promise I am a normal professional lady with a white collar job and friends)
posted by chocotaco at 1:50 PM on June 25, 2015

Thanks for the great suggestions, all!

I was actually using baby wipes for a while to avoid the extra step of having to take a shower but I was getting pretty stinky so I decided that I could not skip the shower step.

I've gone for the option of smallifying my toiletries bag by getting some travel-size bottles (a HUGE help), a microfibre towel which folds up relatively small, and a new gym bag which is a little smaller than the backpack and which I can carry from station to station instead of having to go back and forth. I guess the post-gym routine is never going to be entirely hassle-free, but it's become a bit better, so thanks very much for your suggestions. :)
posted by Ziggy500 at 4:34 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

« Older Best prepaid data SIM plan for Australia/NZ visit   |   I need new music, pt ii Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.