Starting out at the gym is one of the most intimidating things, especially if it’s your very first visit.
While working out is no easy task, and building motivation can be difficult sometimes, there are ways to make going to the gym easier, and one of these is to go there well prepared with everything you need to maximize your workout and make the experience as pleasant as possible.
Many people focus on their workout plan and worry about what to wear to the gym, but these are far less important than what you take with you, and there are many important things you should bring to ensure you get off on the right foot in your fitness journey.
In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the most important and essential things you should bring with you to the gym.
While some of these may not be applicable to you, we’ve included ideas and essentials to cover people who may want to wash and change at the gym after their workout, as well as those who simply want to work out and then leave to get showered and changed at home.
But without further ado, let’s take a look at what it is you need.
What You Need
There are many things you should bring to the gym with you, and some are more essential than others, but all of the items in this guide can help make your work out much more comfortable and enjoyable, however, you don’t need to bring everything, and should only bring what’s most convenient for you and your needs.
One thing you can rely on at most gyms is that everyone will be wearing headphones, as much to avoid awkward discussions at the water fountain than to drown out the awful, unchanging playlist the gym rotates every single day.
Headphones are also great because they help motivate you and keep you pumped up, and if you curate a playlist that will help you stay in the zone you’ll most likely have a far better workout than listening to other people grunting, panting, and dropping weights like they’re hot.
Wireless headphones are most convenient, but it’s perfectly fine to use old-fashioned wired headphones, just make sure they fit correctly and comfortably in your ears and are tucked away down your shirt to avoid them getting tangled in your weights or while you’re exercising.
Arguably most important of all, a good water bottle is key to ensuring you stay hydrated and can work out at your best. Whatever exercise you’re doing and whatever your experience level, everyone needs water to stave off dehydration and cramps as well as headaches.
Drinking water while you train also helps keep you cool. There’s nothing worse than forgetting your bottle and only realizing when you arrive at the gym, knowing you’re either going to have to work out less intensely or risk potentially injuring yourself or becoming dehydrated.
Some people prefer a larger water bottle, while others use clean shakers or simply a disposable water bottle, but whatever you choose, try to ensure you bring some form of hydration with you or you will definitely have a bad first experience at the gym, and no one wants to get injured before they even start.
That, and the fact that gym vending machines can be expensive and water machines can sometimes be gross should make you commit to remembering your own water.
For those who head to the gym during their lunch break or after work, bringing gym clothes is essential, as without them you’re not going to be able to work out at all. Not only is it unsafe to work out in nonathletic clothing, but it’s also deeply uncomfortable.
It’s best to bring a top, shorts/bottoms, socks, and good sports trainers with you to train in, as this will not only help to keep you cool and improve your range of motion, but it will also save you from getting your daily wear sweaty and worn out.
Many people forget them, but towels are really important at the gym for a few reasons. First and foremost, you need a small microfiber towel to help clean off machines and equipment once you’re finished with them.
Not everyone does this, but it’s good gym etiquette to wipe down the equipment once you’re finished with it to prevent the following user from sitting in a puddle of your sweat and body odor.
You don’t need to scrub equipment once you’re finished with it, but a quick wipe down with a towel will go a long way to help you gain the respect of your fellow gym-goers.
Additionally, however, some people may want to use the gym facilities to shower after working out, and while not everyone does this, if you do you’ll want to bring a separate clean towel for drying yourself off after training and showering.
Something relatively small and light is key to avoiding weighing yourself down on the journey home.
If you are going to shower at the gym, bringing shower gel and shampoo are essential to ensure you’re able to clean yourself properly after working out.
Sweat and body odor can be difficult to wash away with just water, and most gyms won’t have complimentary soap, so bring your own to leave the gym feeling refreshed and ready for the next part of your day!
This is one which is also best if you’re planning on using other facilities at the gym such as showers, or a swimming pool/sauna.
Flip flops will be much easier and more comfortable to put on after working out and washing, and can also help prevent you from having to walk on the floor of the changing rooms after your shower, which can be pretty gross after a long day of being used.
Using flip flops can help prevent athletes’ foot as well as verrucas and other nasties picked up on changing room floors, and flip flops are light enough to be able to be carried around very conveniently.
Change Of Clothes/Underwear
After you’ve trained and showered, a change of clothes is key to ensure you’re ready for the rest of your day.
Again, not everyone will want to do this, but many people do as it can be a time saver and it feels great to leave the gym feeling gratified and refreshed.
There are few things more gross than leaving the gym all sweaty and having to head back to work or to another appointment wearing sweaty undergarments or having to put on old sweaty clothes after you’ve showered.
A simple tracksuit, some underwear, and a clean t-shirt can be a game-changer for your comfort.
Whether you shower after training or not, bringing some deodorant or antiperspirant is very important as this will help you mask or avoid smelling sweaty after a hard workout.
What you choose is really up to you, however, a small roll-on can be very effective and is convenient enough to carry around very easily in your gym bag.
Whatever your workout goals and regime, training is intense, and can have a huge impact on your appetite as well as your dietary needs.
Bringing a snack to eat before or after training can be a great way to help speed up your recovery and help your muscles get the nutrients they need to grow and recover much more quickly.
There are a range of great options, from protein bars to meal replacement drinks like Huel or even a piece of fruit such as a banana or apple can help stave off aches and pains long term, which are likely to be more pronounced after your first few gym sessions.
Until your muscles become accustomed to working out, they will be sore and stiff and need all the help they can get to be ready for the next session or whatever else you have planned for the day.
While this may not be a common choice among most beginners, if you’re serious about training and getting the best out of your body, pre-workout could be what you’re looking for and can give you a huge boost before you start training.
There are many brands, flavors, and styles of pre-workout out there, and many use ingredients that will help you gain focus, motivation, energy and even provide your muscles with additional nutrients to help aid recovery and performance during your workout.
If you do decide this is something you want to use, always make sure to check with your doctor before starting pore-workout as it can have health implications particularly for people with existing conditions.
Bringing some protein powder to mix after your workout is one of the best ways to aid recovery, as it’s believed that intake of protein directly after training has huge benefits and can increase recovery speed as well as muscle growth and strength far more quickly than eating later in the day.
Taking protein after you train can give you a huge headstart, and if you’re serious about training and improving your physique, this is definitely one to consider.
Depending on your gym and how you’ve registered, as well as their policy, it may be necessary for you to bring paperwork or credentials to enable you to actually start at the gym!
If you haven’t signed up already, you’ll need to bring items such as your credit card and potentially even ID in order to sign up to a gym, while if you have signed up many gyms require you to use a passcode or some other form of authentication in order to get into the gym.
There’s nothing worse than taking time to head to the gym only to find yourself locked out or waiting for someone else to let you in.
Bringing your phone is great for playing music and keeping track of your workout.
There are tons of great apps and websites to help you with your first workouts, however, don’t simply sit on some equipment and stare at your phone as this will annoy other gym-goers and hamper your motivation as well as your overall workout.
Unless you’re in between workouts, need to change a song, or see what exercise is next, leave your phone in your pocket and save the texting and snap chatting for later!
While many of the things listed above are important for your first gym session, or just nice to have, there is one thing you should always bring to ensure you get the most out of your session. This is confidence!
Many people find starting at the gym difficult and anxiety-inducing, as you may not know anyone there, may not understand how the equipment works, and may even worry about being unfit or appearing naive.
Don’t let these feelings get the better of you, as EVERYONE at the gym was once in your shoes, and everyone started somewhere.
The fact that you’ve taken time out of your day to make a positive choice and try to make a change in your life is one you should be proud of, and indeed most people at the gym will be impressed with your determination and be incredibly encouraging of you.
If you’re unsure, asking questions from gym staff or even people who seem experienced can be a great way to break down barriers, make friends, and totally destroy any anxiety you have about the gym.
Most gym-goers were in your shoes at one point and will be more than happy to show you the ropes or help you find someone better equipped to help you.
Getting your first gym session out of the way is a huge step and a positive moment, and if you prepare correctly and go in with confidence and positivity you can’t fail to get off on the right foot in your fitness journey.