6 gym-bag essentials

Accessorize your workout with the tools everyone should have in their gym bag

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running shoes

1. Good workout shoes

Fashionable Converse high-tops may be comfy enough for walking around town, but you’ll need a supportive pair of trainers to get you through your workout pain-free. “Find a shoe that works for the type of activity you’re doing,” recommends Kathleen Trotter, a personal trainer based in Toronto. Cross-trainers are fine if you’re working out on the weight machines, but runners should be fitted properly at a specialty shop like the Running Room.

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water bottle from Grassroots

2. Water bottle

“I would suggest bringing your own water bottle rather than sharing the water fountain because somebody may have had their lips on the spout,” says Sherry Torkos, a pharmacist, fitness instructor and author of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

Pick up a durable stainless steel bottle (like this cute $20 model from Grassroots) that’s large enough to keep you hydrated throughout your workout. “You want to drink half a cup to a cup of water every 30 minutes [of your workout],” says Trotter.

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exercise bikes

3. A workout plan

“A big problem is that people just show up at the gym and they don’t know what to do,” says Trotter. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, she recommends arming yourself with some kind of workout plan that outlines clear goals and a way to keep track of the steps you’ve taken to achieve them.

A fitness trainer can map out a personalized plan for your workouts, or you could simply download a fitness application for your smartphone. BlackBerry’s Total Fitness lets you track the nutrients you eat each day, features exercises programs tailored to various fitness goals and offers a weekly or monthly report of your progress.

Check out Besth Health’s selection of exercises for your whole body.

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mp3 player

4. MP3 player

Gadgets are a great way to trick yourself into working out, Trotter says. “I could not work out with out my iPod. I would get really bored without it.”

Load up a gym playlist with upbeat tunes that inspire you to push harder. Listening to audiobooks or interesting podcasts is also a great ways to distract yourself during your cardio workout. Try NPR’s This American Life and CBC’s The Vinyl Café-you can download both for free.

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Juno bra

5. A supportive bra

While you can work out just fine in an old T-shirt and shorts, you really do need to invest in a quality sports bra. Insufficient bra support during a workout could lead to injuries. Try on several styles before deciding on the one that’s right for you. “If you need significant support, you should go get a fitting,” Trotter recommends.

Shown: The Juno bra from Brooks (available in sizes B to DD) is seam-free and made with mesh to keep the girls firmly in place, $65.

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6. Towel

Bringing your own towel to the gym ensures that you’re using something that’s been cleaned to your personal standards. This one from Lululemon retails for $16 and comes with a convenient zipper pocket that’s perfect for storing locker keys and extra hair bands.

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