August 13, 2010

Lisa: What you need? Baby, I got it.

It's taken me three weeks of swimming workouts to finally feel like I'm bringing the right stuff with me and that I haven't forgotten anything. If you're swimming (and showering) at a gym, this list might help you. Otherwise, it's pretty much just here for me, so that next time I get motivated I won't have to start from scratch.

Here's what to assemble:

1) Old messenger bag. It can really be any smallish bag. Dig around in the back of your closet. I bet you have something that will work. If it has a zipper pocket in front to throw your keys and wallet into, so much the better. The important thing is that you're not using this bag for anything else--you will want to just leave it packed with your swimming stuff all the time. The bag has to be big enough to hold...

a) Padlock. You probably have one kicking around in a drawer from some kind of previous gym or school situation, but in case you don't (or you didn't write down the combination), Kmart has a bunch of options. Get one in your favorite color so it's easy to spot.

b) Goggles are really important if you're going to be spending a lot of time in the pool. More important than I thought. I just got some crappy ones at Walgreens originally, but it only took me a few days to upgrade to a pair of Speedo women's Vanquishers, and I love them. Plus, I bought them at a great local swim shop (Poco Loco); the woman there was super friendly and helpful.

c) Hanging toiletry caddy, which I thought I got at REI, but could just as easily have come from ShopKo or Target. You probably got one for traveling before the airlines started making you pack everything in clear ziplocks. The exact brand or type doesn't matter, as long as it's fairly small/basic, can get a little wet without getting ruined, and has a hanging hook. Mine also has a little mirror velcro-ed into the top that has come in very handy. Stock that baby up with...

i) Travel-size containers of your face wash, toner, and moisturizer. Buy travel-size toiletries or find some tiny refillable bottles. Just test your bottles for leakage first.

ii) Travel-size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Shampoo can be from hotels or the trial-size section of the store if you're not picky about your product, or fill up an empty bottle with your favorite. The conditioner tubes that come in hair dye boxes are a good size, if you do your own coloring. I think body wash is easier on-the-go than worrying about bar soap in a box. Use a small quick-drying puff or just your hands to lather up.

iii) Disposable razor

iv) Trial-size hair gel and wide-tooth comb

v) Cotton pads, which you can use to apply your toner and then quickly sweep up your hairs that came out in the shower so you can throw them away when you get out. Nobody wants to step on someone else's hairs. I bought a little snap-closed plastic box of cotton rounds in the trial-size section, and I've been refilling it from my regular package.

vi) Small deodorant and purse-sized perfume atomizer

vii) Chapstick (Pool water is DRYING.)

d) Cheap rubber flip-flops (try Target or Old Navy) to walk to and from the pool, and to wear in the shower. Fungus is not your friend.

e) Small makeup bag (another thing you just have kicking around) containing...

i) Redness-reducing eye drops. Especially important if your goggle situation is sub-optimal.

ii) Backup makeup. If you're like me, you have a drawer of reject makeup products that you don't use every day. Dig out a passable mascara, some eyeshadow, and a lip stain (for example). The idea is to pack a bare-bones makeup kit that you can just leave packed in your swimming bag all the time. You don't want to be thinking what makeup to pack at 7 am or to find you've forgotten to bring something you need.

iii) Wisps, in case you forgot to brush your teeth before leaving the house. It was early!

iv) Feminine hygiene product of your choice. One or two should be enough for emergencies.

v) Sample-size body lotion

f) Refillable water bottle. You might not feel thirsty after swimming, but you are.

2) Plastic shopping bag. You know you have some from all those times you forgot to bring your reusable fabric bags into the store. Perhaps in your IKEA bag keeper? The night before you're going swimming, toss the underwear for the outfit you're going to wear into the plastic bag, and stuff it into your swimming bag. While you're taking your shower (in the tiny stall with no place to put down your stuff), you can hang your clothes in the bag on the towel hook so they don't get wet. Then when you've gotten dressed, roll up your swimsuit in your towel, and put the whole damp roll in the plastic bag to take home. (bonus: recycling!)

3) Swimming suit. If you have a fashion suit (like I did) you may spend your entire workout tugging it into place. I bought this old-lady skirted Speedo, and I kind of love it. I will admit that I sewed some low-profile bra cups into the lining for a bit of extra shaping and coverage. I think I saw what a difference that could make in my shirred halter-top suit, and I couldn't resist. Anyway, just wear your suit under your clothes on the way to the gym. Then you don't have that awkward moment where you're wondering if you should just get naked out in the open in front of the lockers, or go into a toilet stall ("but I'm not peeing!") or shower stall ("and I'm not showering!")

4) You will need a place at home to hang your swimsuit and towel to dry. This seems obvious, but putting on a damp suit is unpleasant. Rinse your suit out in the shower after you swim, and wash it on the weekends. Easy peasy!

Posted by lisa at August 13, 2010 10:28 AM

Are you taking the exercise classes or do you just swim around? I've been thinking of swimming for exercise for the exact same reason - no sweating. Also? No unslightly jiggling. Unfortunately, I can't make those classes because of work. What about your hair? Are the chemicals doing bad things to it?

Posted by: Gabrielle on August 13, 2010 03:42 PM

I hear you on the jiggling! I've just been swimming laps during the open hours. I go before Blake has to be at work, so that he can be home with Nora. So far I haven't noticed any bad chemical effects on my hair, but I do use a lot of conditioner afterward. And I've been thinking about trying a real swimming cap. I bet you could swim at the natatorium at the U before or after work, if you don't already have a membership to somewhere with a pool.

Posted by: lisa on August 13, 2010 04:05 PM

You use the word "situation" a lot. I am sort of in love with that.

Nice list; I am going to be looking up classes at the HPER complex ASAP. Very helpful!


Posted by: Shantelle on August 13, 2010 05:35 PM
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