Your 10 Gym Essentials

Gym Essentials

It’s that time of the year when a lot of people will be joining fitness clubs and gyms. From personal experience and consulting with people looking to participate in whatever choice of exercise they desire. I know how intimidating this can be.

So I decided to put together a list of 10 Gym Essentials to help you out. Ideally, before you start exercising you should have specific fitness goals and have gone through a fitness assessment. You can consult a fitness trainer to assist you with that.

Depending on whether you are a regular to exercise or a newbie. There are specific items you will need to bring with to the gym to make your experience pleasant. Some are obvious and others are not so obvious. Not everything on this list is an absolute must-have and not everyone will need all these items, but you will definitely benefit from having them in your gym bag. Of course, that’s assuming you already have a gym bag. This is first on this list.

A Gym Bag

You will need a gym bag to carry your gym essentials. The good news is that you have plenty of options to choose from. You might be familiar with the common gym duffel bag. This is the large cylindrical bag most people carry to gyms. You also have gym back bag and even a combination of both and others. There’s a variety of gym bag brands with different styles and features to choose from that will complement your personality.

Personally, I like the back bag because my hands remain free and I mostly walk. If you drive you might opt for a duffel bag. I’ve found that the more pockets the bag has the better.

Exercise Clothing

Every social setting has a look. You have formal clothing for formal functions. You have casual clothing for casual purposes and you should have workout clothing as well, right? One thing to remember is workout clothing is a lot less about fashion and a lot more about comfort and flexibility, even though most workout clothing is in fact fashionable.

Refrain from clothing that you’ll constantly have to fix, lift up or jiggle in as this will destruct you from your main goal, which is exercising. Rest assured, a lot of workout clothing looks great and if you shop around you will find attire good enough for you. A sexy one even, if sexy is your thing.

Workout Shoes

To complete your exercise gear you’ll need a decent pair of workout shoes. Just like your attire, workout shoes ought to be chosen based on what your fitness goals are.

If you’ll be doing a lot of heavy lifting, shop around for weightlifting shoes. Yes, weightlifting shoes are a real thing. If on the other hand, you will be doing some running and a lot of jumping then you should pick those types of shoes. Exercise shoes are designed differently because they serve different benefit. Read the description if the shoe has one or ask for assistance. The right shoe will last longer and protect you from injury.

Pad Lock

Having worked for a few fitness clubs around Gauteng I know most have lockers for clients to use while they exercise. A key combination locker is better than the one with a key because you don’t have to carry the key with while you exercise, which I’m sure you’ll agree is just a disaster waiting to happen. You are more likely to lose a key to a lock in the gym environment than forget the combination to that lock.

Water bottle

A water bottler is an absolute essential for any type of physical activity. Trust me. You will need water!

Any water bottle will do but I would recommend a shaker bottle because of its versatility. You can use it for all your refreshment needs as well as those other, necessary needs.

A Towel

You can already imagine how useful a towel can be in a fitness environment with predictable heavy breathing and sweating. A towel can be used to pat dry sweat away, dry sweat away from equipment, dry hands before a lift, you can lay it down on gym equipment and if you are planning to shower afterward. You might just need to bring two.

Choose a medium towel as you would have to walk around with it as you move from one machine to another.

A Media Player

Music is a proven ergogenic aid to exercise. Most gyms do play music. Unfortunately, most of the time its techno music and that’s great if you like techno music. I personally like Rap so it made sense for me to bring along my own media player. The reason I say media player, as opposed to music player, is because you can do a lot more with a media player. You can use it as a timer; you can watch workout videos if you have some and you can browse through your workout program. Quite convenient if you ask me.

As I describe this ‘media player’ you might just be pondering. Well, how about my smartphone? Yes, you can use your smartphone. Most workout clothing out there has electronic pockets where you can insert your gadget and if not, you can always get an armband or waistband.

Be very disciplined about your exercise gadget. For example, only use it during recovery time between sets and do not bother about the right songs. Rather choose them ahead of time.

Change into Clothes

 We are now moving toward the end of the workout. Staying in your workout clothes for a prolonged time after exercise is generally not a good idea. You might want to bring along clothes to change into after working out. Bring some shoes as well if you will.

You do not want to mix these clean clothes with the sweaty ones but you do not necessarily need to bring an extra bag. A neat trick of mine is to put my change into clothes in a laundry bag/ plastic bag then into the gym bag. If your gym bag has dividing pockets large enough, that’s even better.

Access Control tools

An additional anything is always a good idea. If you have an access card to your fitness center you should probably throw it in your gym bag since you will only need it when you go to the gym. While at it you can also add other access control tools like spare keys. This, of course, is not absolutely necessary but is better to have and not need. You don’t want to be stuck outside, it has happened to me. This brings us to our last item or group of.

Personal Hygiene items

You know those items you think you won’t need but end up needing. Personal hygiene items at the gym are one of those. These can include

  • Lip balm
  • Some lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Makeup
  • Hairband

You get the idea, just don’t go overboard. You don’t want a heavy gym bag with a lot of stuff you won’t use.

This, of course, is not everything you will need but it’s enough for your exercise and fitness needs.

Do you have any of your own items to add to this list? Anything you’ve personally found useful that we did not include in this list? go ahead and share it with us in the comment section below. Lastly, if you found this article helpful, please share it. Until next time. Keep moving.


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My interest in Sport and Exercise Dev SA
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Thando W. Dlamini, BA

Sport Development and Exercise Science Practitioner

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