Shannon Fable by Shannon Fable

As a group fitness instructor, you know that preparation plays a key role in the success of your classes. You’ve likely invested a great deal of time planning your choreography, selecting music and thinking about teaching strategies to ensure your students are staying safe, getting a great workout and most importantly, having fun! But there’s one more element of class planning that requires attention—maintaining a well-supplied gym bag.

When you transition from taking classes to leading classes, your gym bag doubles as your survival kit. A properly stocked bag can make the difference between a great class and a disaster. While fitness clubs and studios should have a majority of the tools we need to teach, there are times when a little extra preparation pays off. Let’s take a look at the must-have, the nice-to-have, and the bonus tools you should consider carrying in your bag.

Must-Have Tools

Must-Have Tools

Music is a must. Unless your club supplies your tunes, you’ll need to be prepared with a playlist on your portable music device or have CDs ready. Always have a backup, as well as an alternative music source, just in case.

If you have a portable music player make sure a charger lives in your bag. There’s nothing worse than showing up to teach and realizing you only have 10% battery left. 

Even if your club provides windscreens, it’s a great idea to invest in a pack of your own to eliminate the spread of germs. Consider colored windscreens so you can easily identify yours.

Even if your club has batteries available, pack your own. Most wireless mics and headsets use AA, AAA or 9 Volt batteries. Have them all, just in case.

Hair Ties (and other grooming tools)
If you have longer hair, classes can be easily derailed when you’re missing hair taming products. Keep a grooming bag inside of your gym bag with hair ties, a brush, clips, bobby pins, deodorant and anything else you need to feel fresh and polished when class begins. A hat is always a great emergency tool as well.

If your club provides towels, you can move this to the optional list. But towels are a must. Be sure you have one available to wipe off sweat, wipe down the microphone and easily manage your music. Sweat complicates everything!

Water Bottle
A water bottle is always needed. Keep one in your bag, and be sure to take it out and wash it from time to time. This will help you set a great example for your participants.

Positive Attitude
Obviously, you can’t really pack this in your bag, but it IS a necessity! I try to remind myself each time I reach into my bag that it’s show time. You might consider placing something in your bag to serve as your trigger—a special quote, picture or book—anything that can help transition you from the outside world to your responsibilities inside the room.

Nice-to-Have Tools


A/V Cords
Cords will get your music up and running with any stereo system imaginable. RCA cables come in different categories based on inputs, outputs and lengths. Have longer cables that can easily reach from the stereo to your teaching spot and adaptors to fit any input or output. Put them all in a neat, little pouch with your charger and you’ll be good to go no matter what stereo you encounter.

Disinfectant Wipes and Hand Sanitizer
While many clubs have wipes available, having your own supply will ensure you can eliminate germs between classes quickly and easily. Also bring your own hand sanitizer to use before and after class.

Popping a quick, refreshing mint prior to class is always a great idea as we tend to get up close and personal with our members before, during and after class. Breath mints will also help prevent dry mouth, which tends to happen when nerves and activity collide.

Electrical Multi-Outlet
The outlet behind the stereo is typically overcrowded. So when you’re looking for an outlet to charge devices or plug in other devices, you’re out of luck. An electrical multi-outlet with a long cord solves this problem.

A mic is essential in teaching and at some point in your career, your gym’s mic will be out of order. It’s tough to teach without a mic, so it’s nice to have your own just in case.

Portable Speaker
From time to time, the stereo will be inoperable. There are many inexpensive and easy-to-transport portable speaker options on the market. Toss a portable speaker in your bag and you’ll never have to teach without music again.

In addition to the must-haves and nice-to-haves, you can stash the following items in your bag to provide exceptional customer care—mints, bottles of water, extra towels, extra hair ties and small tokens of appreciation to celebrate a job well done. You’ll rise to rock star status overnight!

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