Athletic AttireWhen it comes to workout clothes, your favorite pair of sweats just won’t do. When you exercise, you sweat. When you sweat, you want to have on clothing that will efficiently release heat and moisture. Today, there are many breathable materials that help to wick sweat off the body, reduce uncomfortable chafing, and curb rank body odor. Bamboo, polypropylene, spandex, and some cotton blends are highly effective at keeping you comfy and cool as you walk, run, lift, or train. Women, start by finding a fitted top that is slim-fitting and made from a performance material. The bottoms you choose will depend on the type of exercise you plan on doing. Cropped leggings are ideal for yoga, while stretch pants are great for Pilates or a run on the treadmill. Above all else, a supportive sports bra is paramount. When shopping for sports bras, move around, bend down, and jump up and down to ensure that it stays in place. Men, stick with basic t-shirt constructed from a wicking material and preferably a long-sleeve layer. A hoodie or sweatshirt will keep your joints, muscles and ligaments warm as your workout, which reduces your risk of injuries. For your bottoms, choose between athletic shorts or pants, loose enough to allow for sufficient movement but not baggy.
Quality ShoesYou probably already know the importance of a quality pair of athletic shoes, but what exactly qualifies as a good sneaker? The perfect pair of gym shoes are supportive, lightweight, and provide a good grip on surfaces. The best type of shoe will also depend on the gym activity. If you plan on lifting weights, you’ll want flat-soled shoes that offer a firm, flat grip on the ground. If you’re participating in a strength-training or cardio class, you’ll need supportive shoes with ample cushioning. Opt for a wide toe box to allow for optimal movement. If you walk or run outdoors or on the treadmill, a pair of running shoes are a must. Many people continue to underestimate the value in investing in a good pair of gym shoes. According to the Nike Sport Research Laboratory, the right pair of kicks can enhance performance, protect the feet and entire body against injuries, and provide just the right amount of cushioning for comfort and stability during workouts.
TowelSome gyms provide towels free of charge or at a small fee. Others don’t. Whether or not your gym hands out towels, it’s best to bring your own. Pack a quick-drying towel made from a microfiber material. Microfiber towels are more bacteria-resistant than your average cotton variety, and are great for wiping off sweat during strenuous workouts or drying off after a post-workout shower. Microfiber towels also fold up to a fraction of the size of traditional towels, ensuring a compact fit. They dry faster too.
Water BottleWater is undeniably the best source of hydration on the planet. It not only quenches your thirst, but also helps maintain the balance of body fluids which aid in digestion, circulation, absorption, transportation of nutrients, creation of saliva, and temperature control. As the average person sweats between 0.8 and 1.4 liters per hour of exercise, it’s only natural that more fluids must be taken in to maintain a healthy level of hydration. Pack a water bottle in your gym bag to ensure that fluids are always available during your workouts. Opt for a refillable water bottle to save money and help the planet. If you prefer a little flavor, infuse your water with fresh fruits. Drop some fresh or frozen berries, apples, pears, melon, citrus, or tropical fruit into your water bottle and let is sit in the fridge for a few hours before your scheduled gym visit.
The ROBYN toiletry bag.
ToiletriesNo one likes to leave the gym feeling like a sweaty mess. Take the time to freshen up after an intense workout with a few essential toiletries. Deodorant, facial wipes, and a hair brush are just a few gym staples. If you plan to shower at the gym, be sure to bring along small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash. While men are typically low-maintenance when it comes to pampering, women may want to pack a few extras, such as a cleanser, moisturizer, nail file, and cosmetics. If you’re not a fan of zip-lock bags, pack your gym bag with toiletries in a toiletry bag. You don’t want to put your toiletries directly in with your gym clothes and other items to prevent damage if your shampoo bottle spills or your moisturizer explodes.
Heart MonitorWhile most seasoned gym rats can get away without the use of a heart monitor, those new to the fitness scene can benefit greatly by this small device. Heart rate monitors are typically used during cardiovascular exercise to track your heart rate. While you don’t necessarily need to check your intensity during workouts, the data on a heart rate monitor can provide useful information, such as how hard you’re working out. If you’re new to exercise, knowing exactly where you are in your target heart rate zone can be beneficial for your safety, as well as your fitness progress. Most modern heart rate monitors also provide other useful data, such as how many calories you’ve burned. Looking for other cool tools to add to your fitness device arsenal? Try an interval timer. These innovative devices help you better focus on your workouts by timing a single interval or multiple intervals, then repeating them once or as many times as you’d like.
Pack Your Gym Bag With Your Music PlayerMusic is a powerful motivator and distraction, helping to make your workouts fly by. Be more productive while at the gym by bringing along your music device loaded with a playlist of energy-pumping jams. Whether it’s on your smartphone, MP3 player or other music device, an easily accessible playlist of songs is the perfect way to get you “in the zone” during your workouts. Just remember to bring your headphones to prevent bothering others. According to Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., “music is like a legal drug for athletes.” The right tunes played during exercise can help to significantly decrease the perception of effort and boost endurance by as much as 15 percent. The type of song will have differing effects on the body and mind. For example, listening to upbeat, intense music before and during your workouts can amplify your ability to achieve a more productive workout. In comparison, listening to soft, relaxing music at the end of a workout can help you to better slow down and unwind.
Healthy SnacksThere’s nothing like a hardcore workout to produce a hunger attack. When you get a hankering for something tasty, don’t stop at the convenience store or nearest drive-thru. These types of impulse buys can have serious consequences on your health, fitness progress and wallet. Instead, feed your hunger with healthy snacks that you bring to the gym with you. So pack your gym bag with some. High protein options are your best bet for settling your craving without overdoing it on calories. Opt for portable snacks that have at least 10 grams of protein and about 100 to 200 calories. Here are just a few delicious ideas for your next high protein gym snack:
- Trail mix
- Mixed nuts
- Natural or low-sodium jerky
- Pumpkin seeds
- Hardboiled eggs
- String cheese
- Homemade granola
- Protein bars
- Roasted chickpeas
The TOTE Fitness Bag by LIVE WELL 360.