Tools of the Trade: 15 Must-Have Gym Accessories You Should Keep in Your Gym Bag
Are you just getting started in fitness? At least the kind of fitness that involves going to the gym or working with a trainer?
A lot of people never start because they feel intimidated. They feel like there’s a workout learning curve and they don’t want to feel silly. First of all – everyone looks silly at first and second, that’s why you need a plan from respected trainers.
Once you get past the anxiety, you learn that there are gym accessories you need as well. But don’t worry about figuring out what they are. We have thirteen essentials for you to throw in your bag below.
1. Gym Bag Dividers
If you’re the kind of person who gets serious at the gym: like changes and showers out of their sweaty clothes after, then you need dividers or at least a gym bag with good pockets.
You don’t want to be standing in the locker room hot and sweaty trying to find all the things you need to take to the shower. Instead, they should be in some sort of shower-friendly bag/kit.
Look for materials made out of mesh or netting, so if they get wet, the water can escape and dry. If they do get wet, wrap them in your used towel on your way home.
The towel will soak up any water and it won’t get anything else in your bag wet.
Dividers or pockets are also great for shoes so that the dirty bottoms don’t touch your other clothes. Ideally, you’ll have gym shoes that you only wear in the gym – but there are germs indoor too.
Yes, this one seems like a no brainer, but we all know that person in the gym that forgets it. You should have a separate deodorant that only lives in your gym bag.
When you use it, put it right back in its little pocket. This way, you’ll never be without.
But having deodorant on hand has another, less known use. If you forgot your chafe cream or you’re starting to rub a blister, you can glide deodorant on.
For a blister-to-be, the best solution is duct tape. But aside from that, you can rub some deodorant on the skin (under your sock) where you’re getting rubbed.
Some people like to rub deodorant on the outside of the sock over the spot, but that’s your choice.
If this happens to you a lot or you’re a bigger person (you’re welcome here), look into Body Glide. It’s a product made to prevent skin-on-skin chafing.
3. Hair Accessories
As long as you have hair, this point is for you. Whether that means a hairbrush, a comb, or both and some hair ties.
Being without a hair tie at the gym with long hair is only second to forgetting your headphones. A good trick to make sure you never forget them is to loop some around your water bottle.
Or, keep them around the base of your hairbrush. That way you’ll have them at hand. You can also throw in bobby pins, dry shampoo, and headbands if you’d like.
For shorter hair, don’t forget any styling products like gels.
4. Arnica Gel or Icy Hot
It happens to everyone — even us. You step wrong or you over-lift and you already know you’ll be hurting tomorrow. Prep yourself and decrease the inflammation with some pain-relief gel.
Some people like the sensation of Tiger Balm or Icy Hot — while others hate it. If you don’t want to tingle into tomorrow, try Arnica gel. It’s a natural remedy for soreness (and bruises).
5. Cleansing Wipes
In a perfect world, you should have time to shower after a workout. But we don’t live in that perfect world — do you? Many of us have to run off to another thing, lucky if we have time to change clothes.
Working out at home can help with the rush factor, but still, you shouldn’t run around all sweaty and smelly. Throw both some face wipes and baby wipes in your gym bag.
Neutrogena has a great product for this use, their Grapefruit Cleansing Wipes. We love the smell and their effectiveness. The wipes have cleansers in them, so they shouldn’t be used on sensitive body parts.
One of the most important places to wipe down (if you can’t shower) after a workout, is your crotch. A soggy crotch creates a perfect environment for bacteria.
That’s why our next item is on the list.
The baby wipes are perfect of wiping down those more sensitive areas and you can use them for all sorts of things too. Spill some protein powder in your bag? Now you have what you need to wipe it up.
6. Fresh Underwear
Yes, we said it. You should never, ever, stay in the same pants and underpants you just worked out in.
The yoga pants-type material most workout bottoms come in don’t breathe. That means whatever sweat that gathers there during your workout, stays there.
If you don’t change your underwear after a workout, you’re more likely to get both yeast infections and UTI’s.
Even if you didn’t bring a whole new outfit, make sure you stash a few pairs of clean underwear in your bag in case you forget.
And men – it’s not likely you’ll get those annoying conditions, but it’s still more sanitary to change after.
7. A Shaker Bottle
The two tips that follow this one aren’t any good on their own. You can “dry scoop” your pre-workout, but it’s not good for your taste buds (or lungs).
So, you want to make sure you have a good shaker bottle. The brand name Shaker Bottle came out around 2010. It has a little round ball in it which breaks up clumps of powder in liquid.
But there are other brands as well. The hurricane cup is a great one, as are bottles that have screens and shaker balls combined. You can find these at any large store near you.
Or check online if that’s more your jam.
If you do both pre and post workout drinks, look for a bottle that has a powder container. They usually screw on the bottom of the cup.
That way you can mix your pre or post workout fresh once you get to the gym.
8. Pre-Workout Powder or Drink
There’s one thing a lot of people don’t realize they need when working out – pre-workout. Pre-workout is a powder made of proteins, vitamins and some caffeine – all things that help you blast through your reps.
Right now, BANG is the big name in pre-workout, but it changes every couple of months. People like BANG because it’s low carb, which is great for people following the keto diet.
When you’re looking for pre-workout, make sure you read reviews online first. Some brands put too much caffeine and people note feeling jittery and anxious, not motivated to get through their workout.
If you’re jumping out of bed and running to the gym bright eyed and bushy tailed, then you can skip this. But if you’re trying to get through a workout after work and you’re already tired, try pre-workout.
The difference in your energy will surprise you.
9. Some Form of Protein (Post-Workout)
You need to eat protein within 20 minutes of finishing your workout. That’s what your muscles and your body needs to “lock in” the muscles you just built.
And yes, even if you’re not lifting large amounts, this applies to you too.
A lot of people take protein powder to the gym or keep it in their car for their way home, but that’s not the only option.
You can throw some almonds or pre-packed snacks full of protein in your bag as well.
Along with your protein, some people like to take amino acids after they workout. They find that they’re less sore the next day, so they can go just as hard as they did the day before.
You can look for those as post-workout or recovery drinks. Just make sure they have the essential amino acids in them before you buy.
10. The Right Shoes
We know that workout shoes are expensive, but think of them as a specialty item. Cross trainers are made/shaped differently than shoes meant for running.
And that’s a good thing! When you’re doing fast footwork, you don’t want shoes that have a big or tall bottom part. Why? If you move side to side in those shoes, you have more chance of rolling your ankle by stepping sideways.
Another example: runners need a lot of cushioning in their shoes. They are literally pounding the pavement after all. If you’re weight lifting, usually the gym floor (or your home carpet) is padded.
You don’t need as much cushioning as those continuously hitting the pavement.
If you use our program, look for some minimalist cross-trainers. They’re going to serve you best for the large range of exercises in our most popular programs.
11. Wireless Headphones
One of the best things about Bluetooth technology? Not having to be tied down to headphones in the gym. If you workout as hard as we do, you’re always accidentally yanking one out or the other.
And it’s annoying to feel that little bounce from the wires as you do cardio with headphones attached to your phone.
Go the route Google and Apple are already pushing people and invest in wireless headphones. The pair you choose shouldn’t have too long of a cord connecting them if there’s a cord at all.
Airbuds are the ideal solution, but they’re expensive and get lost easily.
If you don’t go the airbuds and look-alikes route, look for some that will hook over your ears. This will keep the buds in when you’re really giving those moves everything you’ve got.
And hey, when you’re done, wipe them down with a baby wipe to keep sweat and bacteria from building up on them. Good thing you already have those in your bag!
12. A Timer (or SmartWatch)
We already know that using some form of interval training is essential for burning fat. And to do interval training, you need some sort of timer.
Phones have timers, but they can be obnoxious to mess with and you can fall into looking-at-your-apps land. Instead, look for a smartwatch or fitness watch that has pre-set (or settable) timer/HIIT options.
These are also good to track your heart rate, potential calorie burn, and make sure you don’t miss an important call while your phone is in your pocket.
Fitbit is the big brand name, but there are plenty of other good options.
13. Portable Phone Charger
The worst thing that could happen (okay, at least one of them) is that your phone dies before your workout. Now not only do you not have your notes or exercises, but you don’t have any music.
Doing a hard workout without music isn’t something we’d wish on even our worst enemies.
So, make sure you’re never stuck in that position. Get a small portable charger and throw it in your bag. That way you have juice on the go.
And if you use it while you’re working out – plug it into the car jack on your way home. That way you remember to grab it and it’ll be charged next time you get out of the car.
Your Gym Accessories
Obviously, this list is going to change from person to person and from gym to gym. Maybe your gym doesn’t even have showers, so you don’t need to worry about that.
Or maybe you do all your workouts from home, in which case, there’s a different set of things you need (like hand weights).
But those are the basic gym accessories, at least according to us.
Ready to get started with your new, perfectly packed gym bag? Click here.