Having the right attitude and developing an appropriate exercise routine are both necessary if your time at the gym is going to be productive but these two things will only get you so far if you don't have the proper equipment. Although the right equipment differs somewhat from person to person, the following ten items are must haves for everyone at the gym.
Staying hydrated is the most important part of any workout because being fully hydrated improves endurance, muscle performance and strength. Dehydration can lead to a number of problems that decrease your performance at the gym including cramps that can stop your workout in its tracks. In order to stay hydrated, try to drink 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes of your workout and drink two glasses of water before and after your workout. Additionally, it's easier to stay hydrated with a reusable bottle than it is relying on your gym's water fountain so consider bringing your own water bottle to every workout.
After water, a towel is the most important item in most people’s exercise routine. Towels can be used as a barrier between yourself and the machine or mat you are using or they can simply be used to wipe sweat from your face and hands. Your gym might provide a towel service but gym towels are rarely as absorbent as you’d want so make sure to bring your own. Even though the uses vary from person to person, almost everyone can agree that a towel is a must have item at the gym.
Although a towel is useful to wipe sweat from your face and hands, sweatbands can keep sweat from streaming to these areas and allow you to exercise with minimal sweat-related interruption. For this reason, sweatbands are one of the ten must have things at the gym.
4. Athletic Shoes
The right athletic shoes can mean the difference between injury and success at the gym. Even if the wrong shoes don’t lead to a serious injury, they can cause blisters and joint pain that set your workout routine back weeks and cost you hard-won progress. In choosing the right footwear, make sure to select a shoe that is best for your specific kind of exercise. There is no all-around gym shoe but instead a number of shoes tailored to different activities from running to aerobics.
Most gyms don’t provide locks for their lockers so it’s always a good idea to bring a lock with you in order to protect any valuables that you can’t keep on your person (car keys, wallet, cell phone, etc.). Any lock will do but a combination lock is best for most gym-goers because it doesn’t require that you carry a small key with you during your workout.
6. Protein Drink/Post-Gym Snack
A protein drink is a must have for anyone working out to build muscle. Consuming a protein drink in the twenty minutes following your workout can significantly improve the outcome of your workout by giving your body the nutrients it needs to build muscle. Even if you aren’t working out to build muscle but maybe to tone muscle instead, it is still important to consume a post-gym snack high in protein.
An iPod or similar entertainment device may not seem like a must have item for the gym but it is important because it can keep you motivated throughout your workout. Indeed, staying motivated can give you the extra something you need to finish that last set or stay on the treadmill for another ten minutes. That extra set or final ten minutes on the treadmill is often the difference between a good workout and a great one. Check out our recommended MP3 and music players for the gym.
8. Lifting Gloves
Wearing lifting gloves at the gym is an important precaution for anyone using free weights or resistance machines. These gloves can prevent you from developing unwanted calluses and the firmer grip they provide can increase your weight lifting performance.
9. Shower Supplies
There are certain things that you need to bring to the gym if you plan to shower there. Foremost among these items are shower shoes. No matter how clean your gym is, it is always a good idea to wear something on your feet while you are in the shower in order to protect yourself from the fungi that cause athlete’s foot and other infections. Additionally, although many gyms provide soap, you should plan to bring your own soap and shampoo.
10. Gym Bag
Bringing the above nine items with you to the gym every day is going to be difficult without the proper gym bag. Gym bags do not have to be expensive in order to do what you need them to do (carry things) but it is a good idea to invest a little bit of money in a durable, reusable bag to keep stocked with all your must have gym things.
These are the ten must have things at the gym and, with them, it is possible to prepare yourself for a productive workout. Attitude and knowledge are highly important in getting the most out of your gym experience but neither of those things matters if you don’t arrive with the equipment you need to exercise effectively.