When I first joined a gym six years ago, I was absolutely clueless. My workout plan was to find a cardio machine and cling to it as long as I could stand. I didn’t bother with weights or weight machines because I didn’t know how to use them. Most days, I was actually pretty uncomfortable being there.
After going for a few months, I gained confidence and went in the opposite direction – I wanted to do everything and convinced myself I needed EVERY fitness tool out there. Among those were gloves, a twist board, and a goofy-looking pair of ankle weights (that are on their way to the Goodwill). I really can’t believe I wore them in public! Probably looked like someone in a Richard Simmons video.
After finding a fitness regimen that worked for me, I realized that the bells and whistles weren’t necessary. Here are some necessities to keep my routine organized and productive!
- A comfortable, flattering outfit. Don’t wear your man’s oversized shirt or your sweatpants from high school with a hole in the knee. When you look good, you feel good! Choose something that moves with you and accentuates your figure.
If you’re in the market for affordable and cute workout clothes, start with TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. I’ve gotten many affordable and high quality pieces there.
2. A towel. Many gyms offer towels, but I prefer to use my own in the event I’m allergic to the detergent used to wash them. Gym towels also tend to be small (think hand towels for a guest bathroom) and I like something that can cover a bench or the screen of a cardio machine.
3. Water bottle. Stay hydrated! Choose a sturdy bottle with a secure cap or spout.
4. A workout journal + pen: I didn’t start logging my workouts regularly until this year and I have no idea why. Using a workout journal will help you track your gym visits and view your progress.
I’m working toward building muscle, so it really helps to log my reps and sets with weight lifting. I look a few pages back each workout so I know what where I want to start when I train again. If I had a crummy workout or struggled with a certain exercise, I write a short entry and make note to focus on that muscle group next week.
5. A jump rope. If you’re part of the after-work crowd, you know the cardio machines are hogged up when you get to the gym. Always have a plan B! Jumping rope is a great change from the
hamster wheel treadmill (no really, the treadmill is slow torture). I feel like a kid again when I jump rope!
6. Resistance band – When the weight area is occupied, use a resistance band to get your training in. They come in a variety of sizes and the heaviest gives you up to 100 lbs of resistance. I like this medium-sized one (10 lbs resistance) and use it mainly for leg exercises. An added bonus: they’re compact and great for travel.
7. Lifting straps – These are for heavy lifts where the I’m pulling weight upward from the ground (e.g., deadlifts, rows). These help to stabilize my grip and stop the barbell from falling out of my hands. Demonstrated on my cutesy, purple 5lb dumbbell for contrast. 🙂
8. Earbuds/Headphones – No music, no workout. Seriously. I’ll leave the gym and go home to get my earbuds if I forget them. My playlist is usually trap music, funk, and 90’s r&b.
9. Supplement(s) + Shaker cup – I started using these when I reached my first of several weight loss plateaus. When I was heavier, a controlled diet and light exercise gave me results. Now that I’ve lost weight, it’s a little harder to shed the pounds. A pre-workout gives me the extra energy to power through heavy lifting days or longer periods of cardio. Right now, I only use a pre-workout supplement and get the rest of my nutritional needs through diet.
Many pre-workout supplements have caffeine and b-12 for an energy boost. If you’re thinking about trying one, please do your research to find what’s best for you. A main component in pre-workout supplements is caffeine, so gradually assess your tolerance. I’ve been using Shatter for two years and 1.5 scoops is enough to get me through an intense weight+cardio routine.
This is what gets me through an evening at the gym! What are some things that you keep in your bag?