Unhoarding with Holabird Phase One: Decluttering

The recent spike in television shows and blog articles focused on helping people get in touch with their inner neat freaks is no random occurrence. Many people yearn to scale back, and they do so through massive home cleanup projects and committing to a simpler (within reason) lifestyle moving forward. This trend toward realistic minimalism and embracing the art of tidiness can be easily applied to your workout gear.

Fitness enthusiasts, despite their myriad good habits and healthy practices, are not immune to what some would call "hoarding tendencies." We all know a runner with DOZENS of pairs of running shoes, half of which haven’t seen the sun since Smashmouth was walking on it. Or the yoga fanatic who owns more yoga wear than most yoga instructors. Or the CrossFitter who seems to have a different aggressively motivational tee for every day of the month. And half the athletes I know have a serious water bottle problem (Y'all do know you can only drink out of one bottle at a time, right? lol).

If you think you might have a problem with collecting workout paraphernalia, if you'd like to better organize what you already have, or if you'd like to make room for some better gear, you’re in luck! Welcome to…

Unhoarding with Holabird!

If hoarding is the act of stockpiling things with little function or value, then unhoarding is its opposite: getting rid of things with little function or value. Sounds simple enough, right? This three-part blog series is full of tasks and strategies to help you get your fitness collection under control so it can best serve you and your needs.

If you're terrified that I'm going to tell you to get rid of all but one pair of shoes and one moisture-wicking shirt, don't panic! "Unhoarding" isn't code for “have less stuff.” It's merely a way to simplify and organize your possessions in order to fully, truly enjoy them. In fact, if your collection is already a manageable size and you use everything in it regularly, you may just want to skip ahead to Phase Two. My guess is you probably have a few items that aren't living up to their full potential, but you may not need a full decluttering. However, if you're barely able to close your drawers or you haven't seen your closet floor in a few months, let's start with a thorough declutter sesh.


Mental Prep

First things first, take some time to contemplate how you got to where you are now. Everyone amasses stuff for different reasons. You may discover that you enjoy the thrill of shopping more than the gear itself. Or perhaps you feel comforted knowing that you have a lot of options in case the unexpected pops up. Maybe you just like stuff—who knows? Until you figure out the root cause of WHY you hoard gear, you’re likely to find yourself in a similar spot later on.

Next think about your desired outcome after unhoarding. Do you want to make room for things that will better help you reach your fitness goals? Do you want your gently used items to get a second life with someone who needs them? Are you tired of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff you have to wade through every time you prepare for a workout? Whatever flavor of organizational zen you’d like to savor at the end of this process, having a reason that’s important to you will help you stay motivated throughout the process.


The Reckoning

Now that you're motivated and inspired from your mental prep session, you're ready to get rid of some stuff! The most effective way to get through a big purge is to do it in batches by item type. We'll focus on four main groups: shoes, apparel, accessories, and miscellaneous. If you plan on doing all your decluttering in one session, start with whichever category you have the most of so you’ll get the most massive task finished first. For your chosen category, drag every single item you own from that category (yep, go grab what’s in your dresser, closet, gym bag, laundry basket, car… all of it!) to one spot and pile it up. Marvel in silent disbelief at how large your collection is. Maybe cry a little; I won’t judge.

person looking at a pile of clothes on a couch

Sort every single item you just gathered into one of three groups: keep, donate, or toss. It’s helpful to have bags or boxes for the donate and toss items, that way you can immediately move them to their next location at the end.

It’s possible that you’re going to want to keep just about everything, but that’s kinda how we got here, isn’t it? Luckily, experts have some pretty clever questions to ask yourself when considering whether to hang onto something:

  • Do I love (really, truly LOVE) this item? Am I excited when I see/use it?
  • Would I pay full price for this item today?
  • If someone I don’t like gave this item to me, would I still want/use it?
  • Have I used this item in the last six weeks?
    • For seasonal items: Did I use this item the last time it was in season?
  • Do I have something else that performs a similar function?
  • If it’s in disrepair, do I actually have a plan for fixing it?
  • Am I hanging on to this because I don’t want to feel like I wasted money?

Honestly answering these questions can make a lot of decisions surprisingly easy. Soon enough you should find yourself able to make lots of quick decisions and you'll be sorting things like a machine.

hand dropping item into box

Put your box or bag of items for donation in your trunk. Yes, right now. That way you have no excuses to not drop it off at a donation center and you won’t be tempted to just kick it to the back corner of a closet. The same goes for anything you’re throwing away or recycling: Just take it right to the bin outside.

You did it! You survived the first phase of Unhoarding with Holabird and you’re ready for Phase Two: Reorganizing!