Which items do you need for an effective gym experience?

By Ea Francisco | Photo by Matthew Henry/Burst Shopify

Some people find it easier to work out on their own terms, and some prefer to go to the gym. If you’ve decided to give the gym a try, make sure you have the right stuff when you get there. It’s not like going out for a jog where you can just go as you are, so here are some items you’ll need for an effective gym experience.

Towel

As expected, you need a towel to dry yourself off after a workout. You should use one when you’re going to use shared gym equipment to avoid sharing bacteria. When you choose your towel, pick one made of cotton because it absorbs easily and dries quickly. There’s also the option of using a chamois, but it’s more commonly used in the pool. This towel is usually lighter and doesn’t become heavy when wet, but it’s not the most comfortable one to use.

Yoga Mat

You might not be doing yoga, but you still need this mat when you go to the gym. If you’re going to do floor exercises or stretches, it’s better to use one. Some gyms let you rent them, but it could be unhygienic because you don’t really know where it’s been. The rubbery non-slip mat also makes it more comfortable to do push-ups and crunches.

Heart Rate Monitor/Fitness Tracker

If you have a set goal in mind, fitness trackers help you monitor fitness-related metrics to help achieve it. It can have measurements like the distance you’re walking, calorie count, quality of sleep, and sometimes built-in heart rate monitors.

fitness tracker

The heart rate monitor is important for beginners because it helps you monitor your intensity level. Heart rate monitors measure how fast your heart is beating during your workout. If you’re just starting out, you may think that you should be going hard all the time, but it’s all about being strategic with your workout. Generally, you should be able to reach your target heart rate zone, which varies with your age and fitness level, to ensure that you’re doing enough exercise for the day but not overtraining. You should be going 50 to 75 percent of your max heart rate to start burning calories.

Water

Naturally, you shouldn’t forget to bring your water bottle to the gym to stay hydrated. Even before you start your workout, you should be drinking at least two cups of water an hour or two before. Be careful about drinking too much water though because too much can lead to water intoxication. A medical report stated that drinking six liters in three hours can lead to hyponatremia, which is low water and too much water in the body.

Music

If you’re the kind of person who needs a distraction while working out, then don’t forget to bring music. It may not apply to everyone, but sometimes a good playlist keeps you motivated. A 2010 study showed that listening to faster music can help you work harder, and can even boost your performance to up to 15 percent.

Extra Clothes

You can skip a shower, but absolutely do not forget to change out of your sweaty clothes. Not only is it gross, but it’s a breeding ground for bacteria. If you have cuts or sensitive skin, staying in sweaty clothes traps bacteria and can cause infections. According to dermatologist Dendy Engelman, sweating clogs the pores and attracts dirt, and leaving sweaty clothes on makes it accumulate and cause body acne. On top of that, it weakens your immune system and leaves you susceptible to fungal infections.