The New Year is almost here, and we all know what that means: a jam-packed gym filled with newbie exercisers. (Hey, if you’re one of ‘em, more power to you!) But we also know that nothing brings down an endorphin high quite like waiting forever to snag a shower or hair dryer when you’re in a rush.
Fortunately, cutting down your actual workout time isn’t the only solution—though of course, it helps! (Find plenty of quick workout ideas here.) Instead, try these brilliant hacks to shave serious time off your post-workout routine. These tips have been tested by people who exercise for a living (a trainer and yoga instructor) or who just happen to like the gym a lot (Greatist staffers). Lunchtime workouts, here we come!
1. Pack wisely.
Saving time after a sweat session starts the night before. Pack your post-workout clothes in advance, and try to choose a simple outfit without a ton of layers (think: one flowy dress instead of a skirt, top, and belt). When you get to the locker room, hang up your clothes if possible, minimizing wrinkles and making it easy to grab and go.
To prevent losing time digging through a bottomless duffel, stash your street clothes (and shoes) in separate drawstring bags inside your gym bag, suggests Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., owner of TS Fitness in New York City. And keep the things you’ll need first on top—that way you’re not rummaging around to find small items, like socks or underwear.
3. Lock it up.
Investing in a lock that doesn’t require remembering a crazy combination will not only save a minute or two but also a lot of frustration. Our editors swear by Master Lock’s speed dial directional padlock ($14; masterlock.com), which only takes a few quick swipes to open. Or try a word combination padlock ($12.50; masterlock.com). Nothing like entering in your dog’s name to bring a smile to your face after a killer spin class.
4. Choose a less-sweaty workout.
This might seem obvious, but sweating less makes it easier to skip a time-sucking shower. “Know your body and which workouts you just need a quick wipe down with versus the workouts where you’ll need a full shower,” Tamir says. If you know you’ll be crunched for time, maybe skip that hot yoga class and do some lifting in front of the fan instead. Or take your run outside on a cool morning instead of sweating it out on the treadmill.
5. Sneak out early.
Warming up is more important than cooling down in preventing injury and post-workout soreness, research shows. So it’s OK to leave before the stretch section (just aim for a spot near the door) to try and beat the shower line. Then just do some forward folds and side bends to stretch it out in the shower. (Save any tricky balancing poses for the mat!)
6. Take a minimalist shower.
First, cool your body down by taking the water temp down a notch. Then keep things basic: Just wash your body with soap and water, skipping shampoo and conditioner if you can (more on that later). Save shaving, exfoliating, or leisurely basking in the warm water for when you’re at home.
7. Or skip it completely.
Rather than wait in line, try a sink shower. Again, wash your hands and splash your face with cold water to help bring down your body temperature. Then do a full-body wipe down. Heidi Kristoffer, yoga instructor and creator of CrossFlowX, swears by Shobha Rosewater Freshening Cloths ($12 for 10; myshobha.com), which do double duty on your face and body. Giving yourself a good rubdown will take care of the sweat, while the all-natural rosewater scent eliminates any stench.
8. Save your strands.
If you know you’ll be skipping a shower, Kristoffer suggests using a traceless hair ring that doesn’t leave a dent in your hair ($7 for 4; goomeeus.com). Then she’ll spray Klorane’s dry shampoo ($20; kloraneusa.com) in her hair to help soak up any wetness. To seriously outsmart sweat, spray a little dry shampoo in your strands before you work out—that way it’ll soak up any oil before your hair even begins to look greasy.
9. Bring on the baby powder.
Whether you shower or not, trying to shimmy your damp skin back into your street clothes can be a real pain in the butt. To nix the need to wait around while you dry completely, Tamir recommends throwing a small bottle of baby powder in your gym bag. Pat yourself down with a little powder to keep from sticking to everything.
10. Put down the phone!
If you sneak a peek at your inbox midway through your locker room routine, chances are you’ll get sucked in for at least five minutes—and totally derail your process. Hold off until your commute to the office (if you use public transportation) or you’re sitting in the car before driving to work.
11. Save the little things for last.
Putting on jewelry, braiding your hair, adjusting your scarf to get it tied just right—all of these can be done on the go as you make your way to the office, whether you’re sitting at a red light or waiting for the subway.
12. Stash your heels.
If wearing heels post gym, don’t bring them into the locker room with you. It’s a better idea to leave them under your desk or in your car, and wear your sneaks as you dash out of the gym and continue your commute. This lets you get to the office more quickly and safely—win, win.
13. Go au natural.
If you tend to take all your makeup to the gym, it’s time to pare down your routine. Buy second versions (cheaper drugstore products should do the trick) of the bare essentials you wear every day, stashing them in a makeup pouch that stays in your gym bag. And if you can, skip the full face of makeup. Instead, keep it simple with a bit of tinted moisturizer and a berry stain that does double-duty on lips and cheeks. Kristoffer loves RMS Beauty’s “Un” Cover-Up ($36; rmsbeauty.com) and Mullein & Sparrow’s Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm ($15; mulleinandsparrow.com). Bonus: “They’re in little pots and won’t create mess or take up space in your bag,” she says.
14. Embrace athleisure.
Even the least fashion-forward among us can appreciate the latest trend to hit the runway: athleisure, athletic wear that’s mean to be worn outside the gym. Getting in on the craze will not only have you looking stylish AF, but it also allows you to go from gym to street seamlessly, even if you’ve only changed out of your wet bra.