Hot yoga, barre, pilates, spinning, even trampoline fitness... you name it, I've done it when it comes to workout classes. And as a yoga teacher myself, I like to think I've nailed the daily routine that is packing my gym bag, getting in a killer sweat sesh, and then moving on with the rest of my day not looking like a (total) hot mess.
As passionate as I am about helping someone nail their first headstand or getting the most out of my morning workout, I'm even more passionate about the things that I use virtually every time I unroll my mat or step up to the barre. From my favorite leggings—which spoiler alert, aren't Lululemon—to the best studio tote—which is Lululemon—these are my must-haves for any type of exercise class.
1. A mat that I never slip on during hot yoga
Everyone who has ever taken a hot yoga class knows the struggle that is trying to find a truly non-slip mat. And while I love my Lululemon one—which was ranked the best yoga mat of 2019 by our testers—my personal favorite is my Liforme mat. Not only does it have the best grip and padding of any mat I've ever used, but it also has markings to help with alignment, so you never have to guess whether your heel and arch are lined up in Warrior 2 again.
2. The most comfortable pair of leggings I've ever worn
Take it from a girl who hates pants almost as much as I hate the sound of my alarm in the morning: these Beyond Yoga leggings are like a second (very soft) skin. I love that they're high-waisted and completely opaque so you won't embarrass yourself in Downward Dog.
3. An insulated water bottle so I can stay hydrated
Trying to make it through a 60-minute class without water = not smart. Trying to make it through with warm water = also not smart. The solution to both problems is this gorgeous water bottle. Yes, it matches my mat (and yes, that's on purpose) but more than that, it keeps my water super cold no matter how hot the studio gets.
4. A scented spray to keep my mat clean
Confession time: When I got my first yoga mat, I didn't realize you had to (or at least should) clean it, so I used it for two years without ever washing it off. Ew. I've since learned better mat hygiene, a.k.a you should ideally wipe it down and let it dry out after every use, especially if you're sweating. This spray is my go-to because I love the fresh lavender scent it leaves on my mat when I'm finished.
5. A tank top that can go from the gym to brunch
While I love wearing just a sports bra when I'm in class, I don't love wearing just a sports bra when I'm running errands or meeting my friends for a post-workout meal (let's be honest, that would be weird). I'm a big fan of cute crop tops like this one that feels less restrictive than a T-shirt but is still totally brunch-appropriate.
6. These yoga blocks to help get into tricky poses
Repeat after me: Yoga blocks aren't just for beginners. I see so many students refuse to bring blocks to class because they have too much pride (insert eyeroll) but some of the best yogis I know use blocks every day. They're the best for helping you work up to more challenging postures that you haven't mastered yet or relaxing in restorative poses.
7. A towel because #sweat
If you're someone who doesn't sweat in a 105-degree class, good for you—you can skip this one. But for those of us normal humans, you'll want to come equipped with a yoga towel to dry off throughout class. I just like to keep a hand towel like this one from Yoga Design Lab nearby while I flow, but you can also snag a larger version to lay out on top of your mat to soak up any sweat.
8. A lock to keep my things safe while I'm in class
To be honest, I don't use a lock when I go to my yoga studio (pretend you didn't read that, Mom!). But when I go to a new place, I always secure my personal things before I head into class. I love this letter lock because, as a writer, words are much easier to remember than numbers in my opinion.
9. An eye pillow to decompress in savasana
This is a trick I stole from a girl who goes to my studio. When it's time for Savasana at the end of class, place a padded pillow like this one over your eyes. The gentle weight helps you relax and blocks out any extra light while the hint of fragrance has aromatherapeutic effects, like relieving stress and anxiety.
10. These essential oils for a little extra zen
I bring a roller bottle of essential oil with me to every class to apply before and after we flow, usually to my wrists or neck. My current must-have is the Balance blend from Doterra, which is made with spruce, frankincense, blue tansy, and chamomile to help me feel more grounded and calm.
11. A bag that fits all of my stuff (even my mat!)
As if you can't tell from this list—which is only about half of what I carry around on a daily basis—I have a lot of stuff. And it all gets crammed into this Lululemon tote which I honestly couldn't live without. Or at least I couldn't function without. The best part? It has straps that secure your mat in place, too.
12. A snack to refuel after class
Because I turn into an actual monster when I'm hungry, I always keep emergency rations in my bag. Typically, they're in the form of these Clif Kid Zbars. And yes, I know they're meant for kids but they're my absolute favorite on-the-go snack in terms of flavor (iced oatmeal cookie is the best!) and nutrition, since they have a great mix of whole-grain carbs, fiber, fat, and protein.
13. These grippy socks for walking around the studio
Even if you aren't required to wear socks (like you are at a lot of barre studios, for example), I'd still recommend a pair like these from Toesox to keep your feet clean and protected from any bacteria that could be on the floor. Bonus: They have a sticky bottom so you won't have any embarrassing slips.
14. Dry shampoo for when I don't have time to shower
Some days I have to dash right from class to another event or appointment. If I can't take a full-fledged shower—and if I don't want to rock the sweaty topknot look—this dry shampoo from Batiste is the next best thing. I've tried a lot of dry shampoos and, as someone with dark hair, this is the only one that didn't leave any ashy residue.
15. A waterproof mascara that holds up during class
Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by a mascara that claimed to be waterproof but wasn't. Same. If you're like me and can't go anywhere without mascara, this Maybelline mascara stays on the whole 60 minutes so I don't end up with lovely black streaks or worse, burning eyes.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.