From barbell pads to water bottles, having a well-equipped gym bag is essential. These are the items our fitness writer relies on to get her through any session.
Some people can leave the house with their debit card in their pocket and have all they need for the day ahead. I am not one of those people. It doesn’t matter where I’m going, I will have at least one large bag on me at all times.
It does make me feel slightly Mary Poppins-esque, pulling out a jacket or some hand sanitiser or an extra spritz of perfume from my handbag whenever the mood may take me, but mainly it’s just because I hate to feel unprepared for whatever the day may throw at me.
The gym is no different: I could turn up with nothing except myself and a decent pair of trainers and smash out a good session, but I like to know that I have all options available depending on what exercise may entice me when I enter the gym.
That means having a carefully packed gym bag that is full of all of the accessories I could need for my workout. Whether that’s a leg day, upper body training, cardio or a simple stretch session, this is what I carry…
The gym bag
Ok, let’s start here: what do I put it all in? I’m a tote hoarder so I used to keep all of my stuff shoved in a sturdy cotton bag. But I recently got this bag from Oysho and it’s just that little bit more sophisticated to make me feel like I’ve really got my stuff together (literally and mentally). The compartments also help to make it way more sanitary after putting away freshly wiped kit.
The best barbell pad
Not everyone likes squatting with a barbell pad – I don’t. But they’re absolutely non-negotiable when it comes to doing heavy hip thrusts, saving my hip bones from becoming bruised and battered. This thick foamed one has served me well for years with minimal wear and tear, and it stays in place thanks to its sturdy velcro fastening. The PVC cover can easily be wiped down, too.
Short loop resistance band
These short loop resistance bands might look cute, but they are killer. Made from vegan cotton and elastane, I use them when warming up for muscle activation, when squatting and leg pressing or when doing bodyweight workouts for an extra burn.
The best long loop resistance bands
This guy was my hero during home workouts in lockdown – used for deadlifts, face pulls, upright rows, kickbacks… the list goes on. Now I’m back in the gym, they’re helping me get back to working towards my pull up PB. Wish me luck.
The best ankle straps
My gym has ropes and bars galore for the cable machines, but no ankle straps so I used to tuck my foot in the handle to do kickbacks and lateral leg raises. Buying my own strap changed the game and made training so much more comfortable – especially these ones as they’re extra squishy and soft.
Are these an essential? Probably not, but they’re great if you want to take isolation moves seriously.
The best gym water bottle
I know some people love a sports bottle for easy hydration, but there’s just something about a Chilly’s bottle I can’t get enough of. Perhaps it’s how cold it keeps my water in the middle of training, how light it is to throw in my bag or (probably) it’s because they just look so pretty. Revolutionary, right?
The best gym hoodie
I wear this to the gym and during my warm up and throw it back on for the walk home, so it only really lives in my gym bag for the hour that I train. It’s thin enough to wear while I get my heart rate up, but warm up to keep me from freezing under the gym air con, and is made from eco-friendly, organic cotton.
Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.
Images: Brand’s own
Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).