Aiming to get back in the gym? Did you know by including a few key items you are more likely to achieve your fitness goals? Mary Edwards, MS, Cooper Fitness Center Director of Fitness shares how you can pack your bag like a pro and boost your confidence in the gym.

My gym bag provides me easy access to my belongings. I don’t want to dig around in my gym bag, fighting pesky straps or inconvenient pockets. Look for a bag with waterproof or mesh-lined pockets for storing sweaty clothes and smelly shoes and smaller pockets for storing other necessities.

The “Go-Getter Beginner”

If you’re newer to working out at the gym, have no fear—come prepared with the right gear! Some items ideal for beginner gym-goers to invest in are:

  • Supportive shoes—When it comes to shoes you are going to work out in, aim for function over fashion. Many shoe brands provide an array of styles and colors designed for different types of training. The important thing to remember is they should be comfortable and supportive in all the right places. Tip: many running shoe stores provide a complimentary gait analysis to help you find the best type of shoe for you and your activity level. Make sure to ask about this complimentary perk when you’re out shoe shopping!
  • Dri-fit clothing—While clothes made of dri-fit material are by no means essential, they can prove to be the most comfortable for working out. This type of fabric is lightweight, breathable and sweat wicking to help you crush your workout in comfort.
  • Water bottle—It’s vital to stay hydrated in order to get the most out of your workout. Try to drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes of your workout and another 8 ounces within 30 minutes of completing your workout.

The “More Comfortable Member”

For those of you who are a bit more familiar with making your way around the gym, these items are helpful for taking your workout up a notch:

  • Heart rate tracking device—By regularly tracking your heart rate you can identify your true exercise intensity and therefore achieve specific fitness goals or performance results. Monitoring your heart rate during exercise also helps minimize the risk for overtraining, which can cause injury and decrease performance.
  • Headphones—Listen to your favorite upbeat tunes to keep you energized, focused and motivated while exercising.

The “Gym Junkie”

For more seasoned gym-goers, the following recommendations can help with recovery after your hardest workouts:

  • Percussion therapy massage gun—Massage guns have recently gained popularity and attention in the fitness world. This handheld massage tool puts the power of muscle recovery into your own hands by directly activating muscles with vibrations. These massage guns have also been shown to increase range of motion, improve blood flow and decrease soreness and promote weight loss. I highly recommend working with a professional fitness trainer who is trained in using the equipment and purchasing a personal device for muscle recovery in between training sessions.
  • Towel—Keep a small towel handy for wiping sweat during your cardio sessions or in between circuits in your HIIT routines. Certain towels are designed to have a cooling effect when wet and can cool your body temperature down by 30° in seconds.
  • Post-workout protein powder— Protein is key in promoting muscle recovery and growth. Refuel your body properly with a simple protein shake that can be mixed with water within 30 minutes after completing your workout.
  • Shaker cup—Shaker cups can double as water bottles during your workout and be used for shaking out clumpy protein powder for a post-workout snack.

The “Virtual Gym-goer” If you don’t feel comfortable heading to the gym for COVID-19 related reasons, you can still pack your gym bag with some of these items for an at-home workout:

  • Resistance bands—Resistance bands are convenient and provide a strength workout virtually anywhere! You select the amount of resistance to add variety to your strength training routine.
  • Yoga mat—Roll up your favorite mat and take your workouts outdoors or in any room in your home to provide cushion for your hands, knees and back while performing floor work in order to protect your joints from the hard surface.

What’s in my gym bag

I always stow away a good pair of running shoes, workout clothes, my Myzone® heart rate tracker, shower items and a change of clothes for whatever lies beyond my gym session that day!

Whatever your activity level, simply being prepared by packing a gym bag with key essentials can help boost your confidence no matter your location. Pack your gym bag for success as you set out to achieve your fitness goals.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit or call 972.233.4832.

Article provided by Cooper Fitness Center Director of Fitness Mary Edwards, MS.