Must-Haves for Instructor Kit Bags
Updated: Aug 4
With gyms set to re-open next week in England and (hopefully) next month in Scotland, maybe it's time to chat about heading back to work. Whether you're a new instructor or a veteran needing to get your sh*t together, here's some of my kit-bag 'must haves'.
1. A medium-large size fully-sealed lunch box
Yeah - a lunch box.
Fellow instructors have often commented and complimented my rather random-looking lunch box setup in my kit bag, but it makes complete sense. I know a few others have cottoned-on to this genius yet basic solution.
Get a medium or large size lunch box that fully seals (i.e. watertight) - those ones with the clippy-clips that snap the lid into place is what I have. Inside this box you will keep your essential and electronic items. For me, this is my mic headset, stopwatch, my rechargable batteries, my iPhone-to-AUX adapter, spare hair ties, safety pins and a pen.
We've all been there, rooting around our fun sack for that so very tiny little iPhone adapter, or a stray battery .. or a hair tie .. Don't let all these things float around costing valuable time and energy when you arrive at the studio!
Also .. picture the scene: you leave the house in a rush, everything is turfed into your bag, but you've definitely remembered everything, you checked. You show up to take the class just in time and you reach into your bag to find ...... your 'trusty' water bottle has leaked everywhere. Your mic headset, your adapter or charger all soaked ..
Waterproof container: you know it makes sense, and doesn't break the bank.
2. Microphone headset & Windshields
If you teach classes at various facilities they should be provide a working headset for use with their sound system. Depending on the terms of your freelance contract or whatever arrangement you have with the venue, you may be liable to providing your own. Further still, there may be no comeback if the venue's headset is broken/ missing and you must deliver a class without one. If anything, the hygiene aspect of having your own headset, in addition to the reliability, is reason enough in my eyes to invest in one. Also leaves you absolutely free to practice your best 'Britney' at home.
Some instructors will only use club headsets - that's fine - some instructors go a step further and use their own mic pack + transmitter set to link up to the sound system. The choice is yours - however a helpful middle ground is to check out mic headsets as a start.
This is the one I use. At just £39 it has been a worthwhile purchase. I have had mine for over three years now and it has served me loyally. It fits most of the mic packs that I have encountered, however I suggest you check your club's set up to ensure you get the correct headset fitting for their pack.
In addition to the headset, you may also want to pick up an extra pack of foam 'muffs' (windshields). These are notorious for going walkabout - and especially if you're using a communal headset on the tail end of a global pandemic - so it's probably not a bad thing to have a set of your own kicking about .. I got mine on eBay for a couple of quid.
Still carting around one adapter for home, car, AND class use?!
It's only a matter of time until it is forgotten or damaged.
Get yourself a second adapter and keep it in your wee lunch box!
4. A back-up music device
I keep one of my old mobile phones - a Samsung Galaxy S6 - in my bag with the current releases of my Les Mills programmes. Any basic MP3 player with an AUX port (or USB, or however you connect music to your venue's sound system) will do the job.
Typically I will always just use my phone to play music for my classes, however there have been times where I have not left myself enough battery to safely make it through a class. The back-up device is a strictly-for-emergencies lifeline. It doesn't have a SIM card or any data saved on it except music, so if it is stolen or damaged then it's not a concern.
5. Rechargeable Batteries
As eluded to in Point 1, I soon found out that batteries are almost always in deficit when teaching exercise classes. Some venues will have batteries for their mic packs and are fairly strict about returning them after a class, but with others you may find you are required to bring your own supply. Aside from the environmental considerations with single-use batteries, the cost savings and convenience of having reusable batteries is a no-brainer.
I got a universal recharging pack from Amazon like this. I typically use 9V or AA at the clubs I teach at.
In the back pocket of my kit bag I have a spare mic belt, clean socks, combo USB/ iPhone cable, and a plastic bag for sweaty kit just in case anything gets left behind in the mad dash between venues or after a 6.30am class when the brain still isn't quite awake!
7. Feel fresh
Deo and body spray are another staple I keep in my bag. Again, these do not have to break the bank. It is a fitness class at the end of the day, but in my eyes our participants are paying customers and it's only good service to have a good standard of personal hygiene. I don't know about you but I feel better if I've had a freshen up between classes. This body spray is a cheap and cheerful one I picked up from Superdrug.
All things considered with the Coronavirus pandemic, a handy bottle of hand gel won't go amiss now either. I picked up a larger bottle to have on stand-by should my members need a squeeze, but depending on rules & regulations this may be the club's or their own responsibility.
Waterproof mascara is also very handy for me. After a BODYCOMBAT session my mascara will have run further than Mo Farah, so a quick layer of this before kick-off and I don't have to worry! I have found the L'Oreal Million Lashes works perfectly for me.
Finally.. but most importantly
Leaving work and headed to teach your teatime class?
Finished your triple back-to-back and headed home for a re-fuel?
Slept in for that 6.30am class and skipped breakfast?
I've been in those situations and to keep the edge off it definitely helps to have a snack in that kit bag. I keep a steady supply something like a trusty Oatein bar which I can nibble on in the car just before or just after class until I can gain access to my fridge.. anything will do though, whatever suits you.
Even if you don't think you'll need it, hunger pangs can be unforgiving. Delivering a class takes energy - not just physical but emotional - there's nothing worse than trying to give someone emotional energy when you're hungry ..
Got any kit-bag essentials you want to share? Comment on Instagram!