Google shows that there are more people looking to join the gym in July (even more than the New Year January rush!). But whether you’re a first timer or a long-time gym patron, packing an efficient gym bag is no simple task.
With that in mind, SportsShoes.com spoke to some UK personal trainers to find out exactly what they’re packing. Delving inside their gym bags to reveal what the real workout essentials are – unearthing some surprises along the way. Who knew packing double kit, a baseball or copious amounts of snacks we’re so essential? Here’s the ten real workout essentials…
1. A make-shift muscle roller
Who knew - baseballs, golf balls and lacrosse balls could be used for more than their respective sports! Also making the ideal muscle-roller, as described by Jamie Lloyd – the owner of Jamie Lloyd Fitness.
“My most essential item - a baseball. It’s easy to carry around every day and is especially great for doing self-Myofascial release or self-massage before a brutal session at the gym. As I've busted both shoulders I tend to use the baseball to massage my rotator cuff and upper back and shoulders. There’s nothing like it to get the kinks out!”
The same goes for PT Louisa Thomas,“I always, always carry a lacrosse ball, and any spare five mins will be rolling out my muscles. It has that hate/love kind of pain association. Brilliant for tight muscles, and mobility issues”.
2. Multiple kit choices
One piece of kit just isn’t enough for a session in the gym – because who knows what could happen. Rachel Amo-Agyei describes her thoughts on doubling up on her leggings and top:
“You just never know what could happen! I like to be prepared, and the last thing I'd want is the unexpected to happen, which could cause me to end my work out early! Spare leggings and spare tops avoids this from ever being the case. A quick change is all that’s needed”.
3. Snacks, snacks and more snacks
If there’s one thing all of the personal trainers that SportsShoes spoke to can agree on, it’s the need for snacks. Each trainer though, has their own top pick for best gym snack:
For Louisa Thomas it’s nuts, “a really good post workout snack. Nuts, the raw kind (almonds and cashews are personal faves) are a great little pick me up, and easy to carry. Full of healthy fats, and combined with the post workout protein shake, you’ll get the full range of amino acids to boot. I’ve always got them with me for any hunger cravings or just a dip in energy”.
Whereas Paul Stainthorpe keeps it very simple, “the only thing I consume while training is water and bananas. They are a great source of energy and are rich in Vitamins B-6 and C”.
4. Weight-lifting gloves
If you’re going to be lifting any kind of weights at the gym, before long your hands will start to gain callouses – an unsavoury side effect of getting fit at the gym. But not if you invest in a pair of gloves. A simple solution heralded by Amy Stainthorpe:
“My gym routine usually includes weightlifting and after originally trying with my bare hands, I've found I manage much better with these gloves”.
5. Something to listen to
Essential for personal trainers, and essential for every other person at the gym too. Good music is the first step to being motivated. Even fitness models like Alex Crockford need a boost every now and then - “quite often I need an extra boost from some kick ass music to get me in the zone! Earphones are an absolute must”.
What’s coming out of those earphones though is even more essential, and Louisa Thomas explains her choices… with it not all having to be about music!
“Listening-wise, the one thing I do recommend trying is podcasts! They’re distracting - in a good way, and I’m currently listening to the highly intellectual “Private Parts” by Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle. They have me laughing through a workout, and before I know it, the workout is over”.
6. The right bottle
Louisa Thomas has also learnt something else from her time as a PT – the need for not just any water bottle, but the right water bottle:
“H20 is obviously one of the most essential things in a kit bag and I understand how pretentious the glass element of my bottle can look, but when you train people all day, plus workout yourself, the sheer volume of plastic bottles I get through is ridiculous! So, why not help the environment whilst you’re at it? The rubber grip around the middle super useful too. Sweaty hands plus glass bottles are not a winning combo, so choose wisely”.
7. The best bag
While we’re getting caught up about what to pack inside a gym bag, the bag itself can’t be underestimated, with it needing to hold everything you’re taking – and also in Paul Stainthorpe’s case, provide an extra source of motivation:
“I love the quote of 'No Excuses' on my simple drawstring gym bag, it's great motivation before you even pack any items”.
While for others, such as Paul’s wife Amy Stainthorpe, there’s more than just the motivation: “Well first of all I don't use a bag that's specifically for sports use. I prefer to take an oversized hand bag which means if I'm going out anywhere before or after the gym, my bag goes with whatever I'm wearing. Plus, they have some pretty useful and (usually) big pockets”.
An essential echoed by mainly the female PT’s – but an essential nonetheless, is the need to care for your hair after a strenuous workout.
“My ‘Tangle Teezer’ is just awesome. As a Personal Trainer with longer hair, I’m constantly A: in a rush, and B: washing my hair over and over. This brush is a god send, I can get any tangles out in minutes’ post shower, and be onto the next session” says Louisa Thomas.
9. Good hygiene
Hand in hand with hair-care is good hygiene. All the way from packing deodorant to caring for your skin, a must-have for personal trainer Niki Bird: “As I’m inside and outdoors constantly, lip balm and hand cream are my life savers!”
10. A trusty plastic bag
Then after all of that, and a serious workout, is the need to pack everything back up again – including your dirty kit. This is where separating dirty from clean is a must (especially if you haven’t used that spare kit) and the most simple and effective choice is your 5p plastic bag! An item Louisa Thomas never forgets:
“It may seem obvious, but keeping your sweaty gym gear/towel/wet bottles can all leave your bag damp, breed nasty bacteria, and stinking. A simple plastic bag for these items stops that happening!”
It really is as simple as that – and now you’re ready for the gym!
For more information on the gym and working out, visit SportsShoes.com and their dedicated Training Hub.