Fitness: In 15 Items or Less!

Hiking in Norway
August 2016: Agdenes, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway.

Have you ever gone through a health craze? You start buying all this fitness equipment and clothing and soon you have a treadmill in one corner, a elliptical in another, and a closet full of yoga pants. Yikes!

If you want to minimize how much gear you have in the fitness department, it can easily be done. It just has to be done in the right way. Also, a gym membership is not required to get fit. Neither are workout videos, resistance bands, dumbbells, ankle weights, sweat bands, or, yoga mats. You can easily be happy and healthy just by working with your own body weight.

(However, for those of us who live in the Great White North, aka Minnesota, an in-home treadmill, video routine, or gym membership helps during the winter months when cardio is hard to come by.)

But again, it’s not complicated. With a basic set of gear, you can do just about anything! And sometimes the right gear can be the key to transforming a burden into a habit.

My workout “Essentials”:

These need to be in my gym bag at all times. I never remove them.

  • Gym bag (Nothing fancy)
  • Water bottle
  • Watch
  • Earphones
  • Heart Rate Monitor (optional)
  • Weight-lifting gloves
  • Hair Ties (optional)

Workout Clothing:

It is best to have at least one change of gym clothing, since most of us don’t have the time to wash our clothes every single night.

  • Shorts/Yoga Pants (2 pair)
  • Sports bra (set of 2 – female only)
  • Sweatpants (1 pair)
  • Sweatshirt (optional, limit 1)
  • T-shirt/tank top (2 pair)
  • Gym socks (4 pairs)
  • Gym shoes (1 pair – optional) (Most gyms do not allow outdoor shoes.)
  • Running shoes (1 pair)

*Tip: Some weight lifters like to use flat-soled shoes (Keds or Vibrams) for squatting and dead-lifting. But I find that these exercises are just as effective in stocking feet.

Everything mentioned above should easily fit into a normal-sized backpack.

Gym Etiquette:

In case you are a gym member, make sure to follow the etiquette rules below to best enjoy your workout without hindering others.

  • Always wear clean clothing.
  • Wipe down equipment and mats after use.
  • Don’t hog multiple machines at once. If you are working through a set of multiple exercises, do all sets of only one exercise at a time, with the appropriate amount of rest in between.
  • Wear clean gym shoes; don’t track mud or snow around the gym.
  • Don’t grunt, yell or make loud noises while you lift. It’s annoys EVERYONE.
  • Never drop your weights onto the floor. They can break and it makes a horrible sound.
  • Always re-rack your weights when you are done with your set. Don’t make others have to pick up after you.
  • If equipment is broken, be sure to alert the manager or other employee.


Feeling happy and healthy has nothing to do with the amount of gym clothes you own, how expensive your running shoes are, or whether or not your FitBit tracks heart rate. It all has to do with balance. Don’t overwhelm yourself; just get what you need and start there.

The key to minimizing your wardrobe is learning how to prosper with less. And that includes you, health nuts.

Before you go out and buy the next newfangled fitness board, stop and think: Do you really need it? The answer is probably no.

Live well, my friends.


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