When it comes to working out, part of the fun is having all the kit to feel awesome when you actually get there, but if you're a beginner, it can be totally confusing. So, why not learn from the professionals and find out what PTs themselves take to the gym to keep themselves in shape?
Google shows that there are more people looking to join the gym in July (even more than the New Year January rush!). But whether you're a first timer or a long-time gym patron, packing an efficient gym bag is no simple task.
SportsShoes.com spoke to some of the UK's personal trainers to find out exactly what they're packing. Delving inside their gym bags to reveal what the real workout essentials are - unearthing some surprises along the way. Who knew packing double kit, a baseball or copious amounts of snacks we're so essential?
Aimee Victoria Long - @aimeevictorialong
Skincare: I am obsessed with skincare so I have to carry all my products around to reapply after a sweat-sesh.
Dental care: My toothbrush and toothpaste (mini version) has to come along for the ride.
Hair care: I never bring shampoo or body wash, in the hope that the places I go to provide me with those necessities, but will carry around dry shampoo just in case, plus it saves so much time.
Perfume: I keep my favourite perfume (Vitkor & Rolph) in my bag, to spray throughout the day, it helps mask the smell of a sweaty PT on the go!
Staying connected: I also work in marketing, so it's a must to carry my laptop, charger and my note book. Maybe I could ditch the notebook and make my bag lighter, but I like to actually physically write things down and cross items off of my to do list once they have been completed!
Extra kit: Oh, and it's a must to have a change of gym clothes - so an extra sports bra, top, leggings, underwear, socks are all in the bag as well!
Niki Bird - @itsnikibird
The bag: My number one essential item is the bag itself, I carry a (Chrome) waterproof backpack. It's compact, keeps my important stuff dry and looks smart too.
Spare kit: A spare change of trainers, jacket, training top and my trusty compression tights for when I want to squeeze a workout in between clients.
Resistance bands: I always carry some big and mini resistance bands as they're one of the most versatile and easiest pieces of equipment I can take with me anywhere. In addition to a hockey or tennis ball that I can use for some trigger point release.
Recovery: Some recovery muscle spray to always keep my muscles feeling as fresh as possible. Essential snacking: Snacks!! I always have to have some in my bag. Two of my on-the-go favourites are Squirrel Sisters bars and FitBites UK energy balls.
Staying moisturised: As I'm inside and outdoors constantly, lip balm and hand cream are my life savers!
A touch of tech & traditional: Finally, I'm all for new tech, so my MacBook Air & iPod comes everywhere with me so I can work on the go as well. However, I'm still old school at heart and always carry a paperback diary/notebook and pen everywhere I go!
Alex Crockford - @alexcrockford
Pre-Workout/BCAAS: This not only gives me some energy for whatever tough workout lies ahead, but it also supports my muscles during the session.
Shaker Bottle: Goes without saying - to mix the BCAAS but to also re-fill continuously with water to keep hydration on top form.
Spikey ball: When I begin my session I always do some soft tissue/muscle massage and release, whether that is from a foam roller or maybe with my handy spikey ball. There is never a bad time to get my spikey ball deep into those glutes!
Resistance band: This band follows me everywhere, just in case the gym doesn't have one. I use it mainly for glute activation before a workout, stretching my hamstrings or providing assistance during pull ups.
Headphones: Often I need an extra boost from some kick ass music to get me in the zone! Earphones are a must.
Camera & tripod: Lastly, my life is all about creating content and showing everyone workouts and fitness tips, so where would I be without my camera and tripod!?
Amy Stainthorpe - @muthafitness
The bag: Well first of all I don't use a bag that's specifically for sports use. I prefer to take an oversized handbag which means if I'm going out anywhere before or after the gym, my bag goes with whatever I'm wearing. Plus, they have some pretty useful and (usually) big pockets.
Flip flops: I have to pack a pair of flip flops because I hate having hot feet. These Salomon RX Break Sandals are specially designed to wear after a workout, run or hike as they aid with recovery and for me it means I can peel my socks off and free my feet!
Animal print: I absolutely love animal print so it always features in my gym bag. Here I've packed my zebra print leggings and tank for my workout, as well as a zebra print zipped top to pop on afterwards. What better to go with zebra print than bright pink trainers?
Smartphone: I use the Apple activity app to track all of my exercise so my iPhone and Apple Watch with (zebra print strap of course), are always with me.
Gloves: My gym routine usually includes weightlifting and after originally trying with my bare hands, I've found I manage much better with gloves.
Post workout essentials: I pack a towel and face wipes for post workout, body butter to keep my skin hydrated and mascara to make me look at least half presentable when I leave the gym! The small items can be tucked into your trainers to save space in your bag too.
Hydration & nutrition: Last but by no means least important, a water bottle and a banana. Not fully hydrating yourself or refuelling after your workout can make you feel lethargic and light headed, so take time to pack snacks and water. Jamie Lloyd - @jamielloydfitness
A baseball: My most essential item - a baseball. It's easy to carry around every day and is especially great for doing self-Myofascial release or self-massage before a brutal session at the gym. There's nothing like it to get the kinks out!
Magnesium oil: Essential if you want to recover fast! After having a shower, I spray it on my legs and arms to help my muscles recover and relax. It's the first thing I prescribe to my clients to help them to stop aching.
Whole Earth Protein Bars: Very tasty and great for that post workout snack to replenish glycogen stores! Amino acids: I always have my bottle of amino acids ready before hitting the gym. It's like taking a double espresso and gets me through those dreaded HIIT sessions - especially when you think you don't have enough gas! I can't live without them!
Resistance band: Again, I use this to prep the body up before any session. Great for mobilising the joints and firing up the muscles before the main event.
Smartphone: A modern essential with so many uses! In the gym, I record weights lifted and write down my goals and all the sessions I've done. I always ensure its fully charged to get me through those brutal sessions.
Rachel Amo-Agyei - @ElBarbelle
2 Pairs of Leggings: Because you just never know what could happen! I like to be prepared, and the last thing I'd want is the unexpected to happen, which could cause me to end my work out early! I like to use leggings that have a lot of give and thickness. Tip: The bright pink leggings as shown are a prime example of good stretch and thickness. These are my Helly Hansen leggings, purchased from sportsshoes.com.
2 separate Gym Tops: Again, anything can happen! I like to get the best of both worlds with my workout gear. I think when style and functionality meet, you're more likely to feel better about how you look while working on how you look. Tip: If I'm looking for maximum support, I go for tops that don't have built-in cups, and I purchase/wear a shock absorbing sports bra underneath.
Spare Jacket: This jacket is made of breathable material, which is handy if you're feeling like covering up a bit but would still like to continue your workout. The material enables you to continue working out comfortably, without locking in sweat!
Trainers: Different styles of exercise require you to have different kinds of support in order for you to train safely. It's definitely worth investing in a pair of trainers not only suited to your type of training, but also to your feet.
Training Gloves: I love training with free-weights, so to avoid getting callouses on my hands and to ensure maximum grip when handling the weights, I wear training gloves.
Toiletries Bag: Hygiene is very important at the gym. There's a lot of sweating going on, making very easy to come in contact with harmful bacteria. I always keep my toiletries bag stocked up and in my gym bag in the likely event that I may need to freshen up. Deodorant, face wipes, soap, moisturiser; I keep all the essentials in there just in case.
Headphones: Goes without saying: a good music playlist can do wonders for your workout. Spotify even have workout playlists tailored to the many different types of training, such as cardio, dance, running, weightlifting, even CrossFit!
A Sturdy Gym Bag: Lastly, pick a gym bag strong and sturdy enough to contain all these items with no problem. A bag with different compartments to separate your items, e.g. keeping your clean from your dirty items, your drink easily accessible, even a shoe compartment to prevent contamination, all prove very handy.
Louisa Thomas - @louthomasismyname
Glass Water Bottle: H20, obviously one of the most essential things in a kit bag. I understand how pretentious the glass element can look, but when you train people all day, plus workout yourself, the sheer volume of plastic bottles I get through is ridiculous! The rubber grip around the middle super useful too. Sweaty hands plus glass bottles are not a winning combo, so choose wisely.
Olympic Lifting Shoes: If you're starting to get serious about your training, these bad boys can make lifts much smoother. It's all about the angle around the ankle, also known as dorsiflexion. So, if you want to squat deeper, keeping the form at all times, then these are a great shout. Deodorant: I mean, need I say any more? No one likes a sweaty personal trainer... or a post workout stench. For ease and keeping things compact, mini travel essentials are an absolute winner. This can also go for shower gels/shampoo/conditioners too!
Liquid Chalk: A gym essential for any weightlifter. Chalk will dry your hands of any sweat, and so when you're really going for those heavy lifts can help you grip the weight/bars really well. I use liquid chalk, purely because it's much less messy than the powder version.
Tangle Teezer: These really are just awesome. As a Personal Trainer with longer hair, I'm constantly A: in a rush, and B: washing my hair over and over. This brush is a god send, I can get any tangles out in minutes' post shower, and be onto the next session.
Nuts: A really good post workout snack. Nuts, the raw kind (almonds and cashews are personal faves) are a great little pick me up, and easy to carry. Full of healthy fats, I've always got them with me for any hunger cravings or just a dip in energy.
Post Workout Shake: Essential! Protein will help you build and maintain lean muscle, and is excellent for the growth and repair of muscles post workout.
Lacrosse/Golf Ball: I always, always carry a lacrosse ball, and any spare five mins will be rolling out my muscles. The technical term is self-myofascial release, but just think of it as a concentrated massage, that has that hate/love kind of pain association. Brilliant for tight muscles, and mobility issues.
Headphones: My ultimate pet hate is accidentally pulling my headphones out mid set, so blue-tooth headphones are the way forward. Listening-wise, I recommend trying podcasts! They're distracting - in a good way, and I'm currently listening to the highly intellectual "Private Parts" by Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle. They have me laughing through a workout, and before I know it, the workout is over.
Handcream: If you're lifting heavy, callouses are the one drawback. Hand cream can help combat these. The callouses won't go completely, but I'd rather have a stronger, fitter body with rough hands!
A trusty plastic bag - Final essential item. It may seem obvious, but keeping your sweaty gym gear/towel/wet bottles can all leave your bag damp, breed nasty bacteria, and stink. A simple plastic bag for these items stops that happening!
Feeling motivated?! To the gym!
Featured Image Credit: Supplied