What’s In My Gym Bag {+ A Giveaway!}

Happy new week to you, my friends!

I hope you had a great weekend. Ours was a good mix of productivity, fun, and relaxation – just the way I like it. There’s not a whole lot to recap… We had a nice Friday evening with Cody’s parents; I taught an RPM® class, got a bunch of stuff done around the house, test drove several SUVs, and hung with friends on Saturday; went to church, started painting the baby’s dresser/changing table, and took a glorious nap on Sunday. I won’t lie, I’m a little sad the weekend is over!

Let’s kick off Monday on the right foot and chat some fitness today… As many of you regular readers know, I’m a group fitness instructor and teach several classes each week, including Les Mills RPM®, Les Mills BODYPUMP®, and Total Body Conditioning. Not only do I teach these classes, but they are some of my favorite workouts for myself too. This especially holds true during the hot summer months when exercising outdoors is not appealing in the least. Thank goodness for an air conditioned gym!

I find myself going back and forth to the gym a lot throughout the week. Because of this, a well stocked gym bag is key for me. I thought it’d be fun to share the ins and outs of my gym bag, because let’s be honest, we’re all a little nosy, right? Winking smile

what's in my gym bag

What’s in my gym bag…
  • Wallet. I refuse to take both a purse and a gym bag with me to the gym, so I just stick my wallet in my gym bag and call it good.
  • Microphone belt. This keeps the microphone pack in place and helps it not get all sweaty when us instructors are teaching. I love my Tune Belt!
  • Screen protectors. There’s typically extra screen protectors at our gym, but I prefer to use my own since plenty of germs get passed back and forth on those things.
  • A pair of Hunter’s socks. Our gym’s childcare requires kids to take off their shoes and wear socks in the play area, so I always have a pair of his socks on hand in case he’s wearing shoes that don’t require socks.
  • Water bottle. A water bottle is always mandatory for me, especially when pregnant and in this Arizona heat.
  • iPod. This is a definite must if I want to have any sort of music for my classes!
  • Choreography. I don’t keep all of my choreography in my gym bag, but I keep a few releases in there just in case I need to quickly review them.
  • Deck of cards. May seem a little random, but I promise they’re for good reason! I occasionally use my handy deck of cards to put my Total Body Conditioning participants through various workouts. I got this fun idea from Lindsay. It’s sure to provide a sweaty workout that’s far from boring.
  • Dry erase marker. I use this to write workouts and/or motivational quotes on the mirror for my classes.
  • Chapstick. It’s a must for me everywhere I go. I despise chapped lips!
  • Watch. I always wear a digital watch when teaching to keep track of time, and to help me time my member’s circuits in Total Body Conditioning.
  • Hand towel. Particularly during the summer months and when I’m pregnant, I sweat a LOT during my RPM® classes. I always make sure to pack a hand towel to help keep the sweat under control.
  • Snacks for Hunter. It’s inevitable that when I pick up Hunter from childcare that he’ll ask me for a “nack!”, so I always have something in my gym bag for him to munch on until we get home.
  • Snacks for me. If I’m teaching back to back classes and/or we have places to go after the gym, snacks on hand are a must for me. Hangry Ashley is no fun, trust me on this one. I try to keep my gym bag stocked with snacks particularly high in protein to help refuel my muscles and keep me satiated. One of my recent favorite high protein snacks to have in my gym bag is the brand new Jack Link’s Chicken Jerky.

what's in my gym bag

It makes for pretty much the perfect gym bag snack since it’s portable and chalks in 11 grams of protein per serving. It’s also 98% fat free, is made of only white meat chicken breast, and is low in calories at only 80 calories per serving. It’s pretty tasty too, if I do say so myself.

jack link's chicken jerky

Lucky for you, I have a pretty sweet giveaway to offer you today from Jack Link’s! The giveaway pack includes:

  • Jack Link’s Chicken Jerky (Lean white meat chicken breast seasoned and marinated with cracked black pepper along with sweet and savory spices.)
  • Jack Link’s Turkey Jerky (Solid strips of lean, white meat turkey breast seasoned and smoked over mesquite. This little beauty is 98% fat free. A perfect little something different.)
  • Jack Link’s Sweet Teriyaki Turkey Jerky (Soy, ginger, a little onion and a whole lot of perfectly smoked turkey. The very best of East meets West.)
  • Water bottle
  • Headband
  • Sweat towel
  • EOS lip balm

jack link's

To enter, please use the widget below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway ends on Friday, July 31, 2015 at midnight.

Cheers to snacking healthy and keeping active!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Jack Link’s.

Pregnancy Safe Core Exercises

Hey guys!

Hope you’re having a great start to your week! The first few days back to the usual grind after vacation is always a little rough, but being home and back to our normal routine again is refreshing. My legs had a nice little wake up call after teaching both an RPM® class and BODYPUMP® class yesterday. I have a feeling some major DOMS will be kicking in the next couple days! It sure felt good to get back to it after a week off of my regular workouts.


Today I wanted to chat a little bit about core work during pregnancy. It seems to be a pretty debatable topic among doctors, fitness professionals, etc. One person might tell you that the crunches you’re doing are perfectly fine to be doing during pregnancy while another person strongly discourages it and claims it’ll contribute to diastasis recti (the separation of your abdominal muscles). This is just one of many examples of all the mixed messages out there regarding core work during pregnancy.

Through my experience and research, I concluded that the main thing is to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right or comfortable to you, it’s probably best not to do it. I’m getting to a point in my pregnancy where crunches and other exercises alike are getting really uncomfortable for me so I’ve chosen to take a break from those until I get cleared for exercise after pregnancy. That being said, there are several great core exercises you can still do throughout the entirety of your pregnancy that aren’t necessarily crunches or the like. (And for the record, this isn’t to say you can’t do crunches… I was doing crunches up until just a couple weeks ago. Once again, totally your call here.) In fact, core work is incredibly important during pregnancy. It encourages good posture and minimizes back pain throughout pregnancy, will aid in labor and delivery, and will help with a quicker and easier recovery post pregnancy.

Below are a handful of great core exercises that you can do throughout the entirety of your pregnancy, as well as before and after pregnancy!

Disclaimer: Please check with your doctor or midwife before beginning any new exercises or workouts. I’m definitely not a doctor. I’m simply sharing what I’ve learned through my own questions, research, and education.

5 Prenatal Core Exercises

Standing Side Bend

Start in a standing position with your feet about hip width apart while holding a medium set of dumbbells at your sides. While keeping your back straight and head up, bend at the waist to the right side, hold for a second, and come back up to the starting position. Repeat on the left side and continue to alternate.

Pregnancy Core Exercises Standing Dumbbell Side BendTank is Old Navy // Crops are Fabletics // Shoes are PUMA

Forearm Plank

Get into a plank position on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders, hands flat on the ground out in front of you, hips are in line with the back, and abs braced. You can modify this exercise by dropping your knees to the ground, but make sure to continue to keep your hips in line with your back. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds if possible.

Pregnancy Core Exercises Plank on Forearms

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell in front of you with both hands. Tighten your abs and squat, rotating the dumbbell down to your right foot. Use your abs and glutes to stand up, moving the dumbbell to your left shoulder. Repeat 10-15 times before switching to the other side.

Pregnancy Core Exercises Woodchop

Bird Dog

This is a stability exercise that trains not only your glutes, but your entire core, including your abs, lower back, and hip muscles. To perform the exercise, get on all fours with your hands right under your shoulders and your knees under your hips making a 90 degree angle. Brace your abs and raise your right arm and your left leg until they are both in line with your body and lower back down to the starting position. Repeat with your left arm and right leg and continue to alternate back and forth.

Pregnancy Core Exercises Bird Dog

Walkout Plank

This is a great exercise for not only your core, but your entire body! Start in a standing position, slowly walk your hands out in front of you until you assume a plank position. Hold for a second, and walk your hands back to your feet to return to standing. Repeat.

Pregnancy Core Exercises Walkout Plank

These are all excellent full body exercises that hit your core well regardless of whether or not you’re pregnant, so you non-pregnant folks can do them just as well and still reap awesome benefits from them.

Well, I better get going! I have a prenatal appointment this morning where I get to drink that yummy (not) sugary juice to test for gestational diabetes. Wish me luck! I’ll catch ya tomorrow friends!

What are/were some of your favorite prenatal core exercises?

What are some of your favorite core exercises outside of pregnancy?

How often do you do core work?

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