A Gear Editor Reveals Her Favorite Fitness Must-Haves

By Kelly Krause

Molly Ritterbeck and I met a few years back while riding bikes in the Texas Hill Country during a Rapha Cycling Ambassador training camp and immediately hit it off. I’d love to say we bonded because of our shared love of bikes, but it was her affinity for a good dry shampoo and nail art that secured the immediate friendship. Molly’s the kind of friend that has her pulse on everything, but isn’t obnoxious about it. As the former Fitness Editor of Greatist and now the Training, Fitness and Health Director for Hearst’s Enthusiast Group, which includes Runner’s World and Bicycling, Molly has become my go-to for fitness trends and wellness industry news. I love following her on Instagram – she’s always giving us a glimpse into her world, whether it’s testing new products, working out with celebrity trainings or attending some of the coolest brand activations events that make us Austin kids so envious.

I had a chance to chat with Molly about her favorite fitness must-haves and what she cannot travel without, including some super budget-friendly picks!

featured image from lauren kelp

Favorite Time-Saving Products:

Dry shampoo is hands-down my secret weapon for saving time in the morning. It seems counterintuitive, but because I work out almost every day, I don’t wash my hair very often. It’s the easiest way for me to save time. Plus, it’s good for the health of your hair and scalp not to strip it of its natural oils too frequently. My all-time favorite is Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk. If my hair gets sweaty during a workout, it’s usually just the roots, so I hit them with the blow dryer or let them air out while I do my makeup, then I spray in Klorane and massage it in with my finger tips. Running a brush through your hair also helps disperse the powder so it soaks up the oil. Then I style.

Most people are appalled that I only wash my hair once or twice a week — and I will caveat this by saying you have to be OK with it sometimes feeling greasy but not looking greasy — but it’s what works for me. And I’d way rather fit in a workout than style my hair from scratch again so the choice is easy. Another trick is to spray it in before bed at night, then do your morning workout. I find that my hair is much more manageable to restyle afterwards.

My second favorite time saver is definitely this Smart Planet Eco Lunch Kit. Someone sent this to me, and I think it sat in my cupboard for over a year. At my previous company, we had a fully-stocked kitchen to eat lunch out of every day. But with my new gig, I’ve had to go back to buying or packing my own lunch. I work in New York City where they charge $15 for a salad, so if you buy every day it starts to add up. I started using this lunch kit, and it’s actually life-changing. I usually just bring leftovers from dinner the night before. The three separate containers make it easy to pack a balanced, portion-controlled meal. And it comes with a tiny dressing/sauce/condiment lid and a spork. A spork! It also collapses down to half its size for easy storage. I feel like a total dork using this sometimes, but it saves me so much time and money that I just remind myself that I’m really winning in the end.

Favorite Running Shoes:

People are so loyal to their shoes, especially for running. And shoes are so personal to your anatomy and running style. What works for me may not work for someone else. But thanks to my job, I get the chance to test a lot of different shoes. Right now, I’m loving my Asics Dynaflyte 2— these have been a longtime favorite of mine. They feel like the Asics I knew and loved from years ago but lighter and faster.

I also just got the new Nike Epic React, which are incredible. Nike’s fit used to run too narrow for my foot, but the Flyknit upper on these and the wider toe box seem to wrap my foot perfectly. The new React foam is springy, light, and fun to run in. They make me feel fast and make me want to run more, which is cool.

I’ve also been running in the new Brooks Levitate recently. These are super plush so I reach for them when I feel my feet are craving a little more cushion. I’m currently recovering from a foot injury so I’m hyper sensitive to what I’m running in right now, and I’m really trying to listen to my body.

Favorite Strength Training Shoes:

As for lifting, you generally just want something with no or low drop and good ground contact feel. That’s why you’ll often see people lifting in old school Converse at the gym. I personally will lift in my Dynaflyte 2s if I am cross-training at the gym, and running but also doing strength.

If I’m just lifting, I usually go for Reebok CrossFitNano.

Favorite Yoga Leggings:

During a yoga practice, I need a really good pair of leggings that feel comfortable but won’t cut me off during certain poses. I love Sweaty Betty Zero Gravity Leggings. They come in different lengths, which for someone like me with short legs, is amazing. I always end up rolling or cuffing other brands of leggings because they’re too long. These are technically for running, so they do have a zipper pocket along the back, but it never bothers me during yoga.

Of course, I love Lululemon as well. They offer complimentary hemming on their products, which is a great way to get the right fit. Right now, I’m living in the Wunder Under Hi-Rise Tight and I get it in the 7/8 length so they fit perfectly.

Favorite Yoga Mat:

A good mat is key. I really like Yoga Design Combo Mat. It actually gets grippier the more you sweat.

Favorite Mountain Biking Clothing:

In my opinion, there are few brands creating flattering, stylish MTB gear for women. So I usually make up my own rules with how I dress. I honestly wear the most random stuff. I often layer my boyfriend’s flannel or my denim jacket over a pocketed road jersey. Or I’ll wear various running tops. I usually opt for my Rapha 3/4 Tights alone or under baggies. Kitsbow makes some really nice options for women, but it’s pricey and their product range is small, so I have to get creative.

Favorite Hiking Boot:

When I hike, I usually pair my favorite Merrell boots with sweat-wicking running gear and a bandana for good measure.

Favorite Travel Must-Haves:

I can’t travel without compression. I started wearing it on longer flights a few years back, and it was a game-changer for me. When I’m traveling for something like a ski trip, I always pack CEP Compression Socks because they do double duty as I wear them on the plane and while skiing.

I just discovered Comrad Compression Socks, which are the first brand I’ve found that look like regular trouser socks. So I just throw them on with jeans and cuff the bottoms and no one even knows you’re wearing compression.

Otherwise, I’m always paranoid about getting sick when I travel so I keep a pack of Wet Ones antibacterial wipes in my bag (yes, I’m one of those people who wipes down the tray table), a water bottle like Takeya Actives — it has a built in cap to keep the mouthpiece clean — and usually a hydration product like Skratch Labs Daily Hydration or NuunImmunity.

Favorite New Fitness Brand:

Right now, I’m really into what Peloton is doing. They are revolutionizing the way we work out at home and changing the lives of people who may have formerly considered it impossible to find a sustainable routine. Right now, we’re all living through a digital revolution, and many brands are scrambling to figure out what that means for them. But Peloton managed to quickly leverage new technology, capitalize on some big trends in the fitness industry, and create a cult following. Most people are just doing software or just doing hardware, but Peloton is doing both, which means they have complete control over the experience. It’s been really cool to watch them grow from a small studio here in New York to this worldwide phenomenon. I think we can learn a lot from a business like that.