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13 Things You Need in Your Home Gym or Workout Bag, According to Professional Trainers

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Making it to the gym is hard enough (your bed is just so cozy)—don’t make getting out the door even harder by scrambling for your gym clothes and equipment in your morning haze. Keep a bag packed full of these expert-approved workout essentials handy in order to take the guesswork out of your sweat sesh.

The gym not your thing? We’ve got you covered, too. Our experts recommend all the equipment you need to get a solid workout in at home (no treadmill required).

1. DUFFEL BAG; $45

Adidas duffel bag

Let’s start with the basics—you need a sturdy bag to hold all your gear. "A strong duffel bag with plenty of side pockets" is a must, says Jade Pearman, a studio manager and instructor at F45 Training in Dee Why, Australia.

Find It: Amazon

2. TOWEL; $10

Lightweight gym towel

Most gyms provide towels, but sometimes it’s nice to have your own. Pearman says her go-to is "small, soft, white, and fluffy." "It’s all about softness and smell!" she says. "I’m very particular in making sure my towels get washed with 'washing softener' and hung outside to air. So when I put that towel to my face during a sweat, blood, and tears workout I’m able to find a little bit of comfort."

Chris Barnes, a head coach at F45 in Surry Hills, Australia, adds that his has a small zip pocket for his keys.

Find It: Amazon

3. SNEAKERS; PRICE VARIES

Adidas sneakers

When it comes to buying sneakers, everyone has their preferred brand (Pearman’s is Under Armour, Barnes’s is Adidas). But no matter the make, fit is key. "I am in sneakers all day long, so I need a shoe that’s supportive but as close to being bare-footed as possible," Pearman says.

Find It: Under Armour, Adidas

4. WATER BOTTLE; $10

Nalgene flip-top water bottle

It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole when looking at the water bottles available today: glass, plastic, insulated, sports-top—the options are endless. Barnes says he likes to keep it simple: "I have a plastic sports bottle with a team brand on it—it’s BPA-free," he says.

Find It: Amazon

5. DUMBBELL SET; $45

A set of dumbbells

Barnes says a starter set of dumbbells of different weights should do the trick for your home workouts.

Find It: Amazon

6. KETTLEBELL SET; $30

A set of three kettlebells

For weight training, Pearman prefers kettlebells (or TRX bands, if available to you) to dumbbells. "We need to bring more pulling movement patterns into our exercise regime and less pushing exercises, as the majority of us have overactive pectoral muscle, which make us very rounded through the upper back," she says. "We need more work through the traps combined with more stretching through the chest muscles."

Find It: Amazon

7. FOAM ROLLER; $23

Two foam rollers

Feeling sore or tight from your workout? Using a foam roller for myofascial release is "a great way to de-stress at the end of the day, as well as a great tool to use to enhance sleep," Pearman says.

Find It: Amazon

8. RESISTANCE BANDS OR TUBES; $10

A set of exercise resistance bands

"I could give you 100, if not more, reasons why these are great to use," Pearman says. "Stretching, strengthening, mobilizing, or activating muscles pre-workout. Band walking is a favorite of mine—it’s a great way to activate the glutes before a workout!"

Find It: Amazon

9. EXERCISE MAT; $20

An exercise mat

Mats aren’t just for yogis. While a yoga mat will do the trick (for stretching and strength training) if you have one, Pearman says to otherwise look for a "thick but firm" mat that is about half an inch thick.

Find It: Amazon

10. MEDICINE BALL; PRICE VARIES BY SIZE

A woman using a medicine ball to exercise

Pearman tells us a medicine ball is "great for adding a bit of resistance when working the core." She recommends holding one while doing Russian twists or wood choppers.

Find It: Amazon

11. ADJUSTABLE STEP; $28

Adjustable exercise step

You don’t need fancy equipment for at-home workouts—you can often easily use a chair or stair instead of a bench or step in a pinch. But if you plan on doing most of your exercising at home, it’s worth buying the real deal.

Find It: Amazon

12. DRY SHAMPOO; 2-PACK FOR $16

Two bottles of Not Your Mother's dry shampoo

Planning on going straight to the office (or meeting up with friends) after the gym? Dry shampoo is a lifesaver when the shower line is too long. "Dry shampoo is an absolute godsend!" Pearman tells us. "It’s impossible to not sweat through the scalp during a workout, and impossible to wash the hair every day. Dry shampoo is probably an item I could not do without."

Find It: Amazon

13. CLEANSING WIPES; $9

Cetaphil cleansing cloths

Throw a pack of cleansing towelettes into your bag in order to instantly refresh after your workout. While they're made for your face, there’s no shame in wiping down your underarms, too!

Find It: Amazon

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Want Priority Boarding On Your Alaska Airlines Flight This Holiday Season? Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater
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Between steep fares and crowded terminals, flying during the holidays isn’t fun. But on Friday, December 15, a special Alaska Airlines promotion will ease boarding stress and transform packed planes into mile-high ugly sweater parties, in honor of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the airline will offer free early boarding to travelers willing to don their holiday worst at the airport.

The promotion is good for all Alaska Airlines flights in the airline’s 115-city network, and for flights offered by Virgin America and Horizon Air (both of which are operated by Alaska Airlines). In addition to escaping the waiting crowds, passengers who share the most festive knitted looks will be featured on Alaska Air's social media pages if they tag their photos and videos using the hashtags #UglySweaterDay and #MostWestCoast. And since no plane aisle-turned-catwalk is complete without a soundtrack, “festive holiday-themed boarding music will play all month long to help get guests into the holiday spirit,” according to a press release.

Worried you’ll be the only person on the plane wearing a sequined Rudolph cardigan? Even if other passengers don’t get the memo, airline crew will also be wearing ugly sweaters—so feel free to unleash your inner Chevy Chase from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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Why You Should Think Twice About Drinking From Ceramics You Made by Hand
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Ceramic ware is much safer than it used to be (Fiesta ware hasn’t coated its plates in uranium since 1973), but according to NPR, not all new ceramics are free of dangerous chemicals. If you own a mug, bowl, plate, or other ceramic kitchen item baked in an older kiln, it may contain trace amounts of harmful lead.

Earthenware is often coated with a shiny, ceramic glaze. Historically, lead has been used in glazes to give pottery a glossy finish and brighten colors like orange, yellow, and red. The chemical is avoided by potters today, but it can still show up in handmade dishware baked in older kilns that contain lead residue. Antique products from the era when lead was a common crafting material may also be unsafe to eat or drink from. This is especially true when consuming something acidic, like coffee, which can cause any lead hiding in the glaze to leach out.

Sometimes the amount of lead in a product is minuscule, but even trace amounts can contaminate whatever you're eating or drinking. Over time, exposure to lead in small doses can lead to heightened blood pressure, lowered kidney function, and reproductive issues. Lead can cause even more serious problems in kids, including slowed physical and mental development.

As the dangers of even small amounts of lead have become more widely known, the ceramics industry has gradually eliminated the additive from its products. Most of the big-name commercial ceramic brands, like Crock-Pot and Fiesta ware, have cut it out all together. Independent artisans have also moved away from working with the ingredient, but there are still some manufacturers, especially abroad, that use it. Luckily, the FDA keeps a list of the ceramic ware it tests that has been shown to contain lead.

If you’re not ready to retire your hand-crafted ceramic plates, the FDA offers one possible solution: Purchase a home lead testing kit and analyze the items yourself. If the tests come back negative, your homemade dishware can keep its spot on your dinner table.

[h/t NPR]

This piece was updated to clarify that while lead may be present in antique ceramics and old kilns, it's no longer a common ingredient in ceramic glazes.

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