Just the other week, I wrote about the ten items you need to have to build a good home gym. Now, what about the rest of you, who are members of a gym? The question for you is – what items do you need to have in your gym bag to ensure your success, safety and performance?
These are the things I recommend and that I keep in my bag. Whether you are training in CrossFit or a traditional workout style, these items will prove to be useful.
8 Must Haves for Your Gym Bag
1. Sports Watch – Even though you are in the gym a good watch is still an essential tool. I use my watch in particular if it is a workout involving running or if it is a workout involving multiple rounds and I want to see the time for each round separately. A good sports watch will allow you to mark start and end times as well as lap times.
2. Athletic Tape – If there’s one thing my students ask for more than anything else, it’s athletic tape. It’s like the duct-tape of the workout world. You can use it to tape up injuries or tape over cuts and scrapes. You can also use it to tape up your hands to prevent tears or tape up your wrists and other joints to support them and prevent injury. Athletic tape is one of the best and cheapest tools you can keep in your bag.
3. Water Bottle – This seems like it should be a given, but I personally have a hard time remembering to keep mine in my bag. Water before and after a workout, and depending on personal preference, possibly during a workout is important and necessary.
4. Jump Rope – Your gym may have jump ropes, but are they the kind you prefer? Is it the exact length you perform best with? Jump ropes are a strangely personal item and I find my workouts go smoother, and therefore more successfully, when I have my own personal jump rope on hand.
5. Workout Journal – Do you remember the weights you did on all the exercises you’ve ever done? Do you know where you are in your weightlifting progression off the top of your head? Do you know if today’s score on your workout was a personal best? With a workout journal, kept up to date, you will always know the answers to all these questions.
6. Lacrosse Ball – You don’t play lacrosse, so what do you need a lacrosse ball for? Lacrosse balls, or another similarly dense small ball, are excellent for self-massage following a workout. Like a foam roller, you can use them to press into the muscle, release tension and break up fascia. Unlike the foam roller, a lacrosse ball is very targeted and unforgiving. If you have a tender muscle or fear soreness coming on, pull your lacrosse ball out of your bag after a workout and get to work!
7. Electrolytes – I keep a few packets of Emergen-C electrolytes in my gym bag for post-workout. Sometimes I drink coconut water, but other times I just want to guzzle a liter of regular water and the Emergen-C packets give me the electrolytes in a quick and tasty way. Especially for those of you at gyms who do not stock coconut water, these packets are an excellent way to recover from a tough workout.
8. Extra Socks and a Pair of Shorts – Now this one might sound silly to you, but I can tell you as the general manager of a gym that I regularly loan out these two items to students. Keep an extra pair of each in your bag. They won’t take up much room and you’ll be glad when the day comes that you discover you’ve driven all the way to the gym, forgotten your clothes, and you need them!
All of these items are inexpensive and easy to find. Keep them all in your bag and don’t pull them out. Think of your gym bag like a toolbox – anything you take out needs to be put back in place so you have it for next time.