I have a couple of friends who are notorious for leaving their water bottle at the gym. When it’s a free water bottle from a conference, it’s not such a big deal, but when you invest in a more expensive water bottle that you really love, it can be a costly endeavor to leave it behind. The lost and found at gyms is usually filled with water bottles, but you can avoid having your favorite join the pack with some of these handy tricks.
Make a mental checklist
My habit when I’m leaving the gym is to always run a mental checklist in my head. Phone? Check. Keys? Check. Sneakers? Check. Water bottle? Check! Try using the “Link” technique, where in your head you visualize each item next to each other. The most exaggerated and unrealistic images work the best to remember. For example, picture physically unlocking your phone with your keys, then tying starting your shoe engine with your keys, and dumping your shoes out to see they’re full of water. These images seem absurd, but that absurdity will help pair them together and prevent you forgetting one of the items on the list.
Designate a single spot
Sometimes you might throw your bottle in your bag, other times you might hold it on your way out the door, and still others you might clip it onto a strap. Instead, pick a single place to always keep your water bottle and get into the habit of feeling that spot on your way out the door every single day. Backpacks and gym bags with a water bottle pocket on the outside are great for this. Visualize that spot as you’re leaving the gym and think about whether it’s empty or if your water bottle is put away. This is a great technique to combine with the checklist – if every item on your list has a spot, you can visualize where they belong and whether or not each item is in that spot.
If you can’t remember to feel the pocket on your way out, try putting a silly object in there like the Barbie doll your niece left at your house on Thanksgiving. When you look at your bag and see the doll, it will serve as a trigger to grab your water and put it in that spot. If you don’t see it, you might get someone to stop you on your way out the door and ask about the doll, helping you remember to grab your water bottle.
Attach your keys to the bottle
For years, I’ve had a carabiner attached to the top of my water bottle. When I’m at the gym, I keep my keys attached to the carabiner. Whether you’re attaching your car keys or your bike lock key, you won’t be able to get too far if you’ve left your water bottle at the gym. If you walk to the gym, try using a lock that opens with a key instead of a combination so that you can’t get to your bag without your keys. Of course, this requires your water bottle to have a hook for the carabiner at the top. Some great bottles this would work for include the bkr, the Camelbak everyday use waterbottles, and (my personal favorite) the Nalgene On the Fly.
Set a location-based reminder on your phone
If you need a little assistance, use your phone to your advantage. In the reminders app, set a reminder to bring home your water bottle. On the iPhone, you can set the reminder to specific location so that it will alert you when you leave the location. You can also set the reminder to be recurring, so that it will go off every time you leave the gym, and you’ll never make it more than a block or two away before remembering to go back for your water bottle.
Use a post-it note
This may be the simplest way to remember, but it works! If you always check your phone when you leave the gym, put a post-it note on there with a note to remember your water. Don’t take it off until your water bottle is securely stored in your bag. If you need a daily reminder and don’t want to use too many post-its, try a different strategic trigger, like securing a rubber band around your phone or latching the chest strap on your backpack so that you can’t get it on, to help you remember.
Ask your friends to help you remember
When you’re changing before class, ask your friend to help you to remember not to leave your water bottle behind after class. Although they might not actually remember to help you, verbalizing what you need to remember actually makes you more likely to remember. If you’re working out by yourself, ask the person at the front desk. Even if they look at you like you’re crazy, just saying it out loud might be enough to avoid a trip back to visit the lost and found.
Do you always forget your water bottle at the gym? What memory tricks do you use to help you remember it?