Many of us carry around a gym bag, but what items should be inside to ensure a productive workout session? A well-equipped gym bag will lighten your load and make daily gym visits way more productive and enjoyable.
Here are seven gym bag essentials to propel your workout in 2016.
1 Quality workout threads
2016 is about ‘fashion meeting functionality’. Go for lightweight, quick-drying and well-fitted clothing. Side-step workout clothes that are 100 percent cotton fabric – although this might seem like a comfortable option, the fabric traps perspiration and dries slowly. Trade your cotton clothing for synthetics that are designed to draw moisture away from the skin to ensure optimal evaporation. Don’t forget a sports bra – for yoga or pilates, a light to medium support bra will do, and for running or high intensity interval training, a high support bra is necessary.
2 Good shoes
This year it’s all about better cushioning, more bounce and greater durability. It’s important to find the right shoes for your type of training – whether you’re a boxer, runner, cyclist or lifter. Sufficient support can contribute to stability and alleviate pressure on your back and knees. Most top brands have a shoe fit for every workout. For general training purposes, you want a shoe that supports lateral movements and is flexible for explosive jumps. When it comes to running, go for something with performance enhancing properties, balance of cushioning, energy return and comfort.
3 Music & earphones
Training to music is a personal preference – some people enjoy the silence, where others find that it keeps them energized and motivated. Train to music of your taste and create a personalised playlist fit for your routine. Headphones and earphones should fit comfortably and be light. Although pumping music gets you in the zone, it also minimizes your focus of what’s going on around you. Choose a volume level that allows you to be aware of your surroundings and one that helps you monitor your breathing and rhythm while working out.
4 Apps & wearable tech
Apps and wearable tech are taking the fitness world by storm. They are designed to make your life easier; some of them useful reminders to get you moving, some with immediate exercise results and feedback to your disposal and others tracking each step you take. Current popular health and fitness apps include: myvirginactive, Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker, Instant Heart Rate, Strava Running and Cycling, the Apple Watch and Fitbit.
5 Pre-workout snacks
Sandi van Zyl, Wellness Programme Manager at Virgin Active South Africa recommends a light meal at least 1-2 hours before your workout. Sandi says “this will ensure that your working muscles have sufficient energy to burn during the session and will also help your muscles recover after the session as you won’t end up being as depleted as you would have been if you had exercised on empty.” Choose something that is relatively low in fibre and fat, so that you don’t feel full or bloated during your exercise session. Tip: Pack a banana or some raisins in your bag in case it’s one of those days and you find yourself at the gym without having eaten for a while!
6 Something to drink
Water is a definite non-negotiable. Infuser water bottles add benefit in that they encourage people who don’t usually drink lots of water to drink more by adding a pleasant flavour to the water. They are unlikely to add significant nutritional value other than an increased water intake. The whole fruit is usually removed once it has diffused for at least 4 hours and it’s just the flavoured water that is left. It might be useful to pack into your gym bag if you’re someone who doesn’t like to drink plain water.
7 A towel
A towel is a simple, but necessary accessory one often forgets to pack. We all know sweat is normal, but no one wants to sit in yours. Get a compact, durable towel that provides maximum sweat absorption. A good tip is to get one with a small pocket and zip; useful to keep your cellphone or important belongings inside and with you at all times during your workout.