For most busy people, packing your gym bag is just another chore of the day, one that you typically don’t deem worthy of creating a separate list for, right? After all, it seems fairly simple to just pile up a few wearables, your towel, and you’re good to go. Well, almost. If you’ve ever had a hectic Wednesday, which is that least lovable day of the week when most of us are already fed up with office stress and the pile of responsibilities still waiting to be done, you know that forgetting your water bottle or a fresh change of clothes can wreck your entire workout.
So, before you dismiss the notion of putting together a list, we’ve made one for you. All that’s left now is to go over it on a regular basis to make sure you have your basics covered, and get ready to pump some iron and own that treadmill!
First, the munchies
Serious workouts demand a serious approach to post-workout nutrition, or at least a contingency plan in case you cannot make it to your homemade chicken and quinoa in time. First of all, you always need a personal stash of something healthy to snack on before your next meal. It can be a protein bar, a simple energy bar to refuel your glycogen stores, or a protein shake for the truly devoted athletes among you.
If you’re on a strict diet to get lean or to gain muscle, then this step is all the more relevant, since you don’t want to forget your next muscle-building meal that will help you meet your goals.
Although every gym is equipped with a cool fridge filled with water bottles, it’s best to stick to a reusable one, preferably insulated to keep your sips fresh and cold. The environment will be grateful for not buying a plastic one several times a week, and you’ll be able to finish your workouts worry-free, since water is vital for top performance.
Add to that, carrying your water bottle with you lets you stay aware of how hydrated you are throughout the day. While counting calories is important, you can also monitor your water intake to ensure optimal hydration, and bringing your bottle with you is a vital step in the process.
Get the right gear
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your favorite house of gains only to discover you’ve left your tank top at home. This is not an uncommon issue among frequent gym-goers; since packing your bag becomes an autopilot habit, it makes sense that you might leave some of your gear behind. Always do a last-minute check before you leave your home: your durable sneakers, your favorite leggings or shorts, your tanks and tees, and your fresh change of clothes should be tucked into your bag.
If you’re a versed lifter, you should also make sure that you have your safety gear packed, too, such as your lifting belt, gloves, straps, wrist wraps, and any other item that will make your workouts safer and more comfortable.
The gym can be a nasty place when it comes to your exposure to germs, viruses, and bacteria, since so many visitors pass through on a daily basis, using the equipment, some of them without the famous towel. However, don’t be that guy – bring your gym towel to put on the equipment to prevent leaving your sweat all over the place. Plus, have an extra one if you plan to take a shower at the gym.
Add a few other items to your self-care list. For instance, fresh socks and underwear, wet wipes for emergency refreshment, a deodorant, and perhaps a lip balm or some Vaseline to heal your lips after being exposed to so much sweat and heat.
These may not be mandatory even for life-long lifters, but regular workouts can be taxing on your grip and your hands, so you can enhance your own performance with the right additions to your bag. Some lifters like to use magnesium chalk to keep their grip steady during heavy lifts and hot summer days, so that your workout doesn’t turn into a slippery slope.
Ladies and gents with longer locks should always make sure to bring additional hair bands and ties to prevent that uncomfortable sticky feeling on your face in the middle of your last drop set – we’ve all been there. Athletic tape, on the other hand, is particularly handy (pardon the pun) for using the hook grip on your deadlifts, protecting your fingers from damaging your skin.
Finally, this may be a trivial item in some people’s books, but for those who are annoyed by generic techno music played by most commercial gyms, having your trusty playlist at hand as well as noise-cancelling headphones means hitting new PRs. Check if you’ve charged your phone or your player beforehand, and opt for wireless headphones to prevent damaging them during your workout.
Headphones are a godsend when there’s someone who desperately wants to chat and find an excuse not to exercise, and they’re a lifesaver when you need to inspire yourself to push through a grueling workout ahead. Pack your favorite tunes, and you’ll never go back to training with that dull gym music in the background.