We’ve all been there – you get to the gym ready to cry and sweat, only to find out that you’ve forgotten something that’s essential to your workout (I think the worst thing I have ever forgotten was socks..that was a grossly interesting workout). After a few too many times of forgetting these super important items, I started to pack my gym back the night before, and with as much thought as I put into my actual workout. The saying ‘fail to prepare, then prepare to fail’ springs to mind here and is the mantra for most of my fitness-related posts as you will soon see 😀
Whether you are a cardio-bunny, a bodybuilding babe, or a flexy yogi, planning and preparing for your fitness lifestyle is just as important as your nutrition and workout goals.
Beginning with your gym bag, which needs like your fitness genie lamp: it has to be able to carry your workout necessities, flow from the workplace to the gym, survive after being stuffed into a locker and packed with sweaty gear, and be large enough to fit your fitness wardrobe, but small enough that it can be carried around without being classed as an arm workout.
Although everyone has a different exercise style and their gym bag will be unique to their fitness goals and personality, there are a few essentials that every bag should carry, so here’s a peek at what fitness necessities I can’t exercise without!
1 / Good Active Wear
Without appropriate workout gear that you feel comfortable and fabulous in, your might feel less motivated that you could be to workout (cue unsupportive sportsbras/circulation-stopping tights/saggy old gym singlets with tired slogans). So, if you hit the gym after work, remember to pack some breathable, well-fitted clothing that you feel like you could conquer anything in. There’s nothing worse than unpacking your gym bag in the locker room and realizing you’ve forgotten a sports bar! (or socks!).
Active wear can be as cheap or as luxurious as you want, as long as it does the job properly.
Check out the CottonOn Activewear range for wallet-friendly gear:
CottonOn Activewear website
2 / Good Shoes
What ever type of training you do, their will be a shoe for you! Take the time to choose wisely, think about what purpose they will serve (outdoors running, cross-trainers, advanced lifting shoes, flexible movement shoes etc). Make sure it provides the right kind of support you need for the type of training you will do. Most good sporting outlets will be able to give you the specifics on what shoes will be best for you, so grab all the help you can get.
Tip: I personally got mine from Footlocker NZ as they had a great range and were super helpful. If you live in New Zealand and can never find the right shoe for you (range-wise as it can be slim-pickings here), I have used the USA Footlocker site and had some shipped over no problem 🙂
3 / Shaker Bottle
“Consuming your supplements and/or protein within 30 minutes of a workout is vital to replenishing glycogen stores and maximizing recovery and strength gains.” says Cardiello. Make sure to buy a good shaker that will break up all the lumps and clumps your supps can throw at you, and go all out choosing the right size and colour for you. I find having accessories that make me more motivated to use them, really help in the long term. I use a Smartshake shaker bottle, which gives me the freedom to carry around everything I need for the whole day, all in the same unit. It has compartments that mean you can store several servings of your nutritional supplements: creatine, protein, vitamins, capsules, pre- or post-work supplements, any pills and potions! I take my fatburner in the morning, then load the Smartshake compartments with all my vitamins/minerals and supps that I take around lunchtime, then I can take my protein powder straight after my workout as it has been easily transported all day in my Smartshake without any powder/liquid spillage.
Visit the Smartshake site: http://www.smartshake.com/
Buying a Smartshake in New Zealand: http://www.sportsfuel.co.nz/smart-shake-400ml-protein-shaker.html
4 / Workout Planner / Log / Folder
Some sort of workout planner (traditional paper+folder+pen, or modern fitness app) is absolutely essential to consistent personal progress. Use your workout journal to record sets, reps, weights, and rest, and also what supplements you are taking and when. Knowing how much you lifted, or how far and fast you ran in past workouts is important to progression in future workouts. Try your best to track every session!
Personally I have my routine printed out in a folder plus physically write down my sets/PBs down in a book so I can tick them off. For me, it helps to have a hard-copy document that I can hold and look at, without getting sidetracked by fancy buttons and notifications.
I also like to store printed E-books in my folder and follow the steps, rather than take an Ipad or use my phone, because I am scared it will either go flat, or I will sweat on the screen!
Do as I say, not as I do: I really need a folder/book combo that can hold everything, like a super folder book! It gets a bit annoying having to carry round both, so I definitely suggest keeping all your documentation all in one place 😀
Typo and Kikki.k are my favs for cool stationary, check out their websites here:
5 / Towel
Sweat it out! But don’t forget to bring your towel with you. No one wants to sit down and feel where someones clammy buttcheeks/legs/hands have been. Also sometimes you just need to put your sweat towel on your face and cry into it, so its good for that too!
Don’t worry about anything fancy, any old towel will do. You can pick them up super cheap from any department store, or if you really decide you need something just that little bit more sporty, grab a microfibre towel from a sporting goods shop.
I suggest getting one about the size of a teatowel, as anything bigger just takes up more room in your gym bag.
6 / Music/Headphones/Armband
Sometimes it feels good to listen to the sound of people grunting, and slightly outdated and/or super techno music blasting (depending on your gym of course), and sometimes, it feels good to listen to heart-pumping, motivation, much-loved music from your own playlist. Whatever you choose, remember to pack headphones just incase, and invest in a armband to sit your music player of choice in so the device doesn’t get in the way of max gains.
I grabbed my armband off Aliexpress for like $2 and it only took a week and a half to arrive. Alternatively there are heaps around at general sporting stores and department stores.
7 / Timer Or Monitor
These babies are super helpful for taking the stress out of circuits, like HIIT training, Tabata, or CrossFit-style (timed) workouts. Using an interval timer app is the easiest way I’ve found to do my plank/bridge workout, along with my own HIIT training . Interval timers, like the Interval Timer (wow such an original name! but it’s what I use), are customizable to your specific routines, easy to use, and help you focus on your workout, not your rest and active times.
8 / Water bottle
Duh. But still, very important! Especially in hotter temperatures and climates, and also when taking different supplements, it is extremely important to keep hydrated. Plus who wants to stop in the middle of their workout and battle for the water cooler? Not us. Have an empty, reusable water bottle in your bag really comes in handy, and their are plenty of cool ones out there, just take your pick!
9 / Stretching accessories
Something I think all gym-goers should have in their ultimate gym bag, whether they like stretching or not. Stretching is an important part of any workout, and can be done before and after so that your muscles are nicely warmed up and warmed down. I find stretching after my workouts cuts my recovery time way down the next day and I don’t feel as sore.
I use yoga foam blocks to help me stay aligned and to help when I can’t get right into a particular stretch, and also a yoga strap to stretch my hamstrings out.
I found mine in Kmart, really really cheap. Or Rebel Sport has a great range.
Also, grab Ellefitactive’s Get Bendy guide for simple, all level, daily stretches and keep a copy in your bag.
10 / Face Wipes + deodorant
These two work best in conjunction, especially before and after the gym. Wipe down any sweaty patches for a fresh feel, and spray/roll on for added fragrant bliss. Might be a ‘duh’ for most people, but still remember to pack these! You might look and feel like a microwaved piece of poo, but at least you will smell divine, and everyone will thank you for it.
12 / Pair of socks
REMEMBER THESE. Because I am dedicated enough to not skip a workout, I have unfortunately worn my Nikes with no socks. In summer. GROSS. Just stuff them in the night before, better yet, stuff a few in just in case.
There are still heaps of items that could be added to this list, but keep experimenting with what works best for you, and share some photos of your gym bag with me if you have some!