From gym to office to street and back again.

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When Health moved offices in November, my commute went from a reasonable half hour to a borderline ridiculous hour and 5 minutes each way. That means I now have a total of five fewer hours per week to take care of my life outside of work—including exercising. As an editor who covers health, fitness, and wellness, I knew that scaling back my sweat sessions would mean a serious decline in my physical and mental wellbeing. My solution: I switched gyms, and now belong to the Equinox that's in our building so I can sneak in workouts before work and during lunch.

Here's something I didn't expect to need when I made this change: a stylish, spacious bag that could transition from gym to work to a night out. The first few weeks, I carried my gear in my old Dakine backpack, which while functional was nothing close to fashionable or office-appropriate. Plus, it's embarrassing to walk into a bar for happy hour wearing a neon backpack.

I set out to find a new bag, and did a ton of research. I wanted one that would be large enough to fit a change of clothes, my makeup pouch, a pair of shoes, my laptop, and my hair products. I also wanted it to be simultaneously durable and lightweight—and to look nothing like a gym bag. And as it turns out, it's ridiculously hard to find a tote that meets all those requirements. Everything was either too small, too heavy, or too sporty-looking for my taste.

Then I came across the MZ Wallace Metro Tote ($225; Large enough to carry all my stuff? Check. Lightweight? Check. Cute? Check! At $225, it was more than I wanted to spend, but I made it the only item on my Christmas list and hoped my husband would get the hint.


Luckily, he did, and I have been using the Metro Tote obsessively ever since. And I love it so much that if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't balk at the price. At first, I was worried that the featherweight nylon fabric would snag—it's so light and flexible that the bag can be folded down and packed away at a fraction of its actual size—but after 10 weeks of heavy use, it looks good as new. Leather on the straps and feet on the bottom add stability and durability, and three included pouches are perfect for storing dirty shoes and sweaty clothes until I get home. I get compliments on the tote all the time, both at the gym and while out and about, since it pairs as well with workout leggings as it does with a shift dress or sweater and jeans.

So, see ya, neon backpack—you've been retired for good.

To buy: $225;Â