I get it; it can be hard to commit to a gym session, especially when you might feel tired in the morning or get held up with work or social plans later in the day. Yet, packing gym essentials and keeping yourself prepared can help make the sweat session more appealing and easier and it can help increase motivation and commitment levels.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding forms of exercise that excite them and fit in well with their lifestyles, schedules and preferences. Yet, sometimes we find ourselves feeling unprepared when we set foot in the gym or head out the door for a run. Too hot in the gym? Maybe a second shirt or towel might have been helpful. Hair strands sticking to your neck? Maybe bringing a few hair ties and clips to let the neck breathe could make your workout more pleasurable and effective. There are some things that we might not necessarily think of, but actually really come in handy, when we are working out, and so by carrying a few essential items that can make our workouts better and last longer, it can help us get closer to reaching our health and fitness goals. Here are thirteen workout essentials to keep in your bag for an awesome sweat session.
1. Journal + Pen
Bring a "workout log and pen," advises certified holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno with J.B. Fitness and Nutrition, over email with me. Keeping a log of your workout stats, progress, reps and other important information could help you stay more motivated and committed due to the tangible progress being made, she advises.
2. Water Bottle
According to Bruno, staying hydrated is so important for a healthy, solid workout. Our bodies depend on water to enhance our athletic performance, and we lose a lot of water when we exercise, says Renee Melton, MS, RD, LD, in interview with WebMD. Keep a bottle on hand and drink throughout a workout. Drinking "functional water" with nutrients and protein can also boost performance, says Kate Osman, NPC Bikini Competitor and Optimum Nutrition Athlete, over email with me, who recommends protein water.
3. Music & Headphones
According to Bruno, music and headphones can help boost a workout and increase levels of happiness, stamina and endurance due to the increase in mood levels. Furthermore, researcher Tom Fritz for a 2013 study told Huffington Post that music can boost performance and overall workout experience.
4. Hand Sanitizer
While many gyms often have hand sanitizer dispensers, it's never a bad idea to carry your own, suggests Bruno. According to Philip Tierno Jr., PhD, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Medical School and the author of The Secret Life of Germs, in interview with Fitness, gyms and equipment are flooded with germs, and we need to careful with cleanliness.
5. Nutritious Snacks
"Quick snacks and on-the-go meals are gym bag must-haves. It's important to get the right nutrients and sufficient calories in before and after a workout to optimize your efforts and help your body recover," says Connor Young, founder of Ample, over email with me. He recommends getting a "full spectrum of fatty acids (macadamia, coconut, chia seed, algae and sunflower) to boost energy," as well as, "sufficient anti-inflammatory Omega-3s."
6. Face Wipes
Carrying face wipes and a makeup remover can be really smart, as it can help reduce the likelihood of post-workout acne due to sweat and clogged cores, advises Bruno. Dermatologist Rebecca Kazin, MD, FAAD, associate director at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery recommends Neutrogena Rapid Clear Treatment Pads or Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser to get rid of sweat on acne-prone areas, over email with me.
7. Timer Or Stopwatch
Bruno recommends carrying a timer or stopwatch, as it makes it easier to do more interval training, such as sprints, circuit moves, body weight exercises and other speed exercises that depend on minutes of exertion, often paired with rest. Plus, according to Dr. Michael Smith in interview with WebMD, there are many health benefits of circuit training.
8. Hair Tie Or Clip
For all you ladies with long locks out there, I hear you. If you are anything like I am, then your hair must be flying all over the place during workouts. Loose strands can get caught in sweat and make you feel more weighed down and uncomfortable, which can get in the way of an effective and pleasant workout, advises Bruno.
According to Bruno, (and most people I would imagine), being smelly at the gym is usually not welcomed, and it can be embarrassing going forward in the day, especially if there is no time for a quick shower or freshening up. Lather a bit of deodorant on both before and after a workout in order to stay fresh throughout the day.
10. Change Of Clothes
According to running coach and personal trainer Susie Lemmer, over email with me, packing a change of clothes can help prevent inefficient and unpleasant workouts due to sweat, and it allows you to do several different moves and stretches without sticking to the mat or feeling too chilly. Change into something dry before embarking on something else at the gym!
11. A Towel (Or Two)
Lemmer recommends bringing a towel, as it allows you to wipe sweat away throughout a workout as it can boost endurance and duration. Some gyms do not provide complimentary towel service, and while other do, the towels might be too small for your needs. Bring your own clean ones to stay comfortable.
12. A Little Caffeine
If you are affected by caffeine negatively, this might not be for you, but a little jolt could help boost performance. "L-Theanine and caffeine work together to produce sustained and focused energy, lasting up to six hours. "Full of catechins, specifically EGCG, which is known for boosting metabolism", tea can "instantly revive and hydrate yourself after your workout," says Simon Cheng, Tea Expert and Founder/CEO of Pique Tea crystals, over email with me.
13. Dry Shampoo
Leaving the gym with sweaty strands before heading to work can certainly be a drag, and if you're anything like I am, then you tend to feel more insecure on "bad" hair days. "Preserve your blowout or 'fake' a shower when you have to dash straight from your last set to the office," says Kazin, with a dry shampoo. She suggests Kerastase Power Bluff Dry Shampoo.
No matter what workout you choose, carrying these essentials could make a great difference to your sweat session and could help you go longer, faster or with a greater intensity for more effective results. Keep your bag organized so that it's easy to find everything inside!
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