My husband and I joined a local gym recently. We had talked a few weeks before about keeping an eye out for an affordable gym membership, and it should surprise no one that this happened shortly after the new year began. What better time for a gym to entice new members than when resolutions are fresh, right?
We were both quick to recognize a problem, however. I almost always wear jeans, not exactly suitable gym workout attire. My husband also lacked appropriate clothing for the gym. We actually had to go shopping for stuff to wear to the gym. At least we both had suitable shoes.
A lot of the workout gear out there really isn’t all that eco friendly. Still, there are some worthwhile options to consider.
Eco Friendly Workout Clothes
Gaiam is a wonderful source for sustainable workout clothes. They use organic cotton, recycled polyester and other such materials. ActivewearUSA.com also has a nice selection, but you have to find their eco-friendly department.
The recycled synthetic fibers really can be better in workout clothes than natural, much as I generally prefer natural. They may better wick away moisture – that is to say, sweat – which is why you see so many workout clothes advertising that feature. You don’t need new materials for that – some recycled fibers do that just fine.
Tencel (or Lyocell) is popular. It’s made from the cellulose in wood pulp. Modal is also popular, and also comes from spun cellulose, generally from beech wood. You may be able to find workout clothes with these materials.
I like my New Balance shoes. I got them from Planet Shoes. They sell footwear at environmentally consciously as they can. They even offer Carbon-Free Shipping, which means that you pay a fee so they can offset the carbon resulting from the shipment of your shoes.
Planet Shoes has a nice selection of athletic shoes. You should be able to find some to suit your needs there.
Know Where Your Towel Is
You should bring a towel with you when you work out at a gym. It amazes me how many people don’t at my gym, one of my few disappointments, but at least the gym provides a spray cleaner and towel in a few spots around the gym, so you don’t have to worry about things staying too nasty from other people’s sweat staying on the machines.
Still, you should be wiping down the equipment after you use it. It doesn’t take a big towel to do this, so bring the size you need – smaller if you shower at home rather than at the gym is fine. I’m just using a towel that I already had, no need to buy a special towel just for use at the gym, seriously folks. Using one you already have is better than buying some organic cotton towel you don’t really need. But if you really do need towels, organic cotton’s a pretty good way to go.
I remember the last time I had a gym membership, call it 15 or so years ago. I don’t know that many people at all brought bottled water to the gym – I think most people just used the drinking fountain. I know I did. I could be wrong about that, it has been a long time.
These days, practically everyone has a water bottle. Unfortunately, they’re mostly the usual plastic bottles intended for a single use. I see a few reuseable water bottles, but not that many. Seeing all the treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines with bottle holders was a welcome surprise to me.
I love my stainless steel water bottle. It’s a steel Thermos Intak, not a specifically eco friendly brand, but quite durable. My husband has a large Klean Kanteen, which goes to work with him also. Both have been around the house for a few years now, and are holding up really well. My husband’s bottle has a few dents from going to and from his work all the time, but nothing that’s a problem.
And remember that water is just fine for most people working out. Most people really don’t need a fancy sports drink to recover from a workout.
I’m only mentioning gym bags because some people use them. I don’t. I change clothes at home and don’t shower at the gym, so I don’t need one. It would be a waste for me. My gym doesn’t have things like swimming pools or saunas, so there’s no need to bring a change of clothes there.
Think first about whether or not you need a gym bag, then about what you can use instead. You may well have a bag of some sort that will do the job. You’ll probably be mostly shoving it into a locker while you work out, after all.
IPods and such are so common at the gym these days. It’s nice to have a little music to keep yourself entertained. It’s not absolutely necessary – so far I’ve skipped it, in part because my husband’s iPod nano would be awkward to deal with, as my gym clothes have no pocket, and the iPod doesn’t have a clip.
If you’re sharing an iPod or other MP3 player, I would suggest getting your own earbuds. It’s just more sanitary.
As far as the environmental considerations, I generally like Apple’s products. They try to make their carbon footprint smaller and limit their use of toxic materials. I’m not always happy with them, and certainly not a raving fan, but they’re pretty good. They also provide recycling programs in many places for their products.