A backpack, a drawstring bag, or a full sized duffel bag. We all have a gym bag of some kind whether it’s for having a change of clothes, carrying any possible equipment you could need to survive your hour at the gym, or just for holding your change of shoes and water bottle. Everyone has mostly similar things they bring with them to the gym that are essentials more or less, and some people go a little crazy and may make you question if they’re spending the night. I do think there are some things that everyone should bring with them everyday, so we’ll simply separate this into essentials and non-essentials.
Starting with what I consider the “must haves” there isn’t a huge list. First is simply a water bottle. Lots of gyms have water fountains, but in the middle of a workout having to run across the gym and get a drink is a big waste of time, so having a bottle right next to you is helpful. Also staying hydrated is important! Next, I think people need their own jump rope. If you’ve ever done a competition you know it’s the only piece of equipment you have to bring with you. Boxes have several jump ropes for general use, but having a personal one lets you adjust it to your height as you get more proficient, guarantee you’ll have one to use, and just have a consistent rope to practice with. I think there’s only one other thing to make sure you have and that’s shoes. At minimum you should have one pair that are comfortable for anything and everything, whether it’s running or a max snatch. If you have the ability to get a couple pairs the second pair I’d recommend should be strictly for running, just to keep feet comfortable on long runs, and a third pair would be something solid and flat for straight up lifting. There are a couple things that are borderline for me that mostly depend on if you’re going home right after the gym or not. If you aren’t then I’d highly recommend at least an extra shirt, if not also pants or shorts, and deodorant.
That’s only 5 essentials at most! So what are people filling those body bags with that they carry into the gym? This is where we get to accessorizing. Knee sleeves, belts, Olympic Weightlifting shoes, gymnastics grips, supplements, pre-workout, and a whole bunch of other stuff. All these kinds of things are nice to have, but are also totally not necessary. I also have some general guidelines I like to use for all these things so that a dependency doesn’t develop. I’m going to brush past supplements and pre-workout because those need their own conversation (so look forward to that!). Going into what I’ll classify as “body assisters” we have things like belts and knee sleeves. I honestly don’t like things like this for everyday training because if you can’t do a movement without outside assistance you probably aren’t ready to be doing it. Without turning this into a rant I’ll just say that I like to set a rule if the volume isn’t exceedingly high, or you aren’t over 90% of a lift then leave the help in the bag. It’s more beneficial for your body for you to develop the capability to do these things naturally so you can do them outside the gym also when you don’t have your belt with you. When it comes to gymnastic grips those are just slightly below being a necessity because have torn and beat ups hands just isn’t great in public. If you take proper care of your hands though and regularly scrape down calluses and moisturize them, then tearing is very unlikely.
As you can tell there are really very few things that I think are whole fully necessary to have with you to go to the gym. Keeping outside things to a minimum let’s us develop our body as it self, so we don’t overload it. Things like belts are nice once in a while when we’re testing absolute limits on occasion, but we should keep it as just that, a test. So, maybe if you have a gym bag try downsizing it a little, and having those other things on standby for those occasions.