A lot of factors enter into a satisfying and effective workout: sweat, determination, and a good challenge. What often gets overlooked, however, is the importance of having the right gear with you. Proper performance equipment can make or break your gym routine. If you’ve ever trained for a marathon or other event in uncomfortable shoes or without a water bottle, you know exactly what we’re talking about. In this article, we discuss the most important gym bag essentials which can elevate your routine and boost your mood, too! Here’s what to toss into your bag before your next sweat sesh:
Gym Bag Essentials #1: Performance Footwear
Unless you’re practicing yoga or martial arts, bringing the right footwear to the gym is an absolute must. Aside from being uncomfortable, the wrong shoes can result in foot or ankle injury—ouch. Depending on the exercise you’re doing (running, crossfit, rowing, etc.), here’s what to look for in high-quality sport shoes:
- Shock-absorbent. This is especially important for running and any other cardio exercise.
- Lightweight. Heavy shoes can cause foot fatigue, so now isn’t the time to bust out your trendy kicks with the 3-inch platforms!
- Flexible. Whether you’re shooting hoops or working the treadmill, make sure your shoes move with you.
Gym Bag Essentials #2: Performance Socks
Wearing well-designed performance socks to the gym is important for the same reasons as wearing sports shoes. The right socks reduce fatigue, prevent injury, and feel comfortable throughout your entire workout. When you’re picking out athletic socks, look for the following features:
- Breathability. The best socks for exercising are crafted from superior, lightweight fabrics so you can wave goodbye to stinky feet.
- Moisture wicking. If your feet get damp during your workout, you’re probably wearing cotton socks. While cotton is breathable, it’s not the best choice for the gym because it absorbs moisture and keeps it near your body. That means that by the end of your routine, you’re sloshing around in your sneakers. Gross, right? Performance socks draw moisture and heat away from your body, so your feet stay dry and cool.
- Cushioning. Opt for socks that are constructed with a cushioned footbed. Not only is it way more comfortable, but it means you can work out harder and longer.
- Venting. Depending on the type of exercise you do, top performance socks will feature venting technology so you’ll feel like you’re flying through your routine.
- Great fit. Well-engineered sport socks will be anatomically constructed specifically for the left and right foot, so that there’s no bunching or slipping, no matter how hard you push yourself.
Gym Bag Essentials #3: Spiked Water
Staying hydrated at the gym is a no-brainer. But there’s water, and then there’s water. Here’s the deal: when your body sweats, you lose not only water, but electrolytes. Those are the minerals that bring essential fluids to your cells, replenishing your muscles and tissues. The harder your training, the more sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium you lose. If you lose too much sodium, you can get muscle cramps, headaches, or even experience a seizure. Here’s how to tell if you lose too many electrolytes at the gym:
- If your workout is super rigorous or super long (think an hour or more)
- If you sweat a ton, and it’s salty sweat
- If your body is prone to post-gym cramps
- If you’re exercising in extreme heat (hot yoga can sometimes cause excessive sweating)
If any of the above is true for you, it’s a good idea to toss either salt tablets, electrolyte powder, or a bottle of coconut water in your bag along with some regular H2O. If you’re feeling extra, bring along a few slices of watermelon. It’s hydrating, delicious, and full of electrolytes. Just stay away from sugary drinks, since consuming added sugars won’t do your body any favors.
Gym Bag Essentials #4: Tunes
Unless your gym already has a killer soundtrack, you might want to bring your own playlist. Why? Music boosts mood, releasing happy hormones like oxytocin and dopamine, while reducing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Even better, a high-energy beat enhances endurance, inspiring you to run another mile, bike a little faster, or complete another set of deadlifts. Add that to the mood-enhancing effects of exercise, and you’ll be floating out the gym door!
Gym Bag Essential #5: A Sweat Towel
Look, nobody wants to talk about sweat. But the reality is, a good workout usually results in an intense, um, glow. All those little sweat beads running down your brow are distracting and unhygienic, and being able to instantly whisk them away makes exercise much more pleasant. Another perk of grabbing a towel? You can wipe down gym equipment before (and after) you use it. Trust us, you don’t even want to think about the number of humans who have been sweating all over the training bench before you arrived. Just don’t forget to wash your towel post-workout, every time.
The Right Gear Improves Gym Performance
Whether you’re into biking, rowing, or bicep curling, proper exercise equipment can make your gym time more efficient and enjoyable. Here at Fitsok, we understand the unique needs of athletes because we’re athletes ourselves. We engineered high-quality, high-performance socks right here in the States so that you can keep hitting the gym with your best feet forward.