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The 30 Best Fitness Accessories & Equipment You Should Have in Your Gym Bag

by
author image Maghan McDowell
Maghan McDowell is a San Francisco Bay area writer and editor. A former magazine editor and university lecturer, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida.

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The 30 Best Fitness Accessories & Equipment You Should Have in Your Gym Bag
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Most trainers would tell you that all you need is a pair of shoes, some open space and a little bit of motivation to get in a good workout. And we really can’t disagree with that statement! But trainers are also often the first ones to try out cool new fitness tools, and to reject those that can't keep up the pace. We’ve asked a handful of top trainers to let us peek inside their trainer toolkits to see what their favorite accessories are. Read on to find out which new fitness tech gadgets, shoes, socks, snacks, sunglasses and clothing they recommend to enhance performance. Let us know if you have tried any of the gadgets on this list and if we have missed any great ones that you would recommend.

1. Mini Bands
Photo courtesy of Mini Bands

1 MINI BANDS

Los Angeles-based fitness and lifestyle consultant Ashley Borden, who trains private clients including Mandy Moore and Ryan Gosling at Fitness Factory, uses three – the green, blue and yellow—of these inexpensive, portable 9-inch-long bands to warm up the hips and glutes for a quick, efficient, full-body warm-up. "You can use the yellow or green for shoulder warm-up as well," Borden explains. They are great when you are traveling as they are super versatile and you can bring them with you pretty much anywhere you go. PRICE: $1.50 to $18.95.

Related: Get more info about mini bands

2. Body Glide Anti-Chafe
Photo courtesy of Body Glide

2 BODY GLIDE ANTI-CHAFE

"This lubricates skin to help prevent blisters, and Body Glide is really the industry standard," says Miami-based triathlete, running coach, author and Orthopedic Board Certified physical therapist Bruce Wilk, a lifelong runner and owner of specialty store The Runner's High in Miami. Body Glide can be used anywhere that skin or clothes rub together to prevent chafing without blocking sweat.

Related: Get more info about Body Glide Anti-Chafe

3. Casio G-Shock Watch
Photo courtesy of Casio

3 CASIO G-SHOCK WATCH

Jason Anthony, a Florida-based NSCA and IMAP trainer, uses a digital wall clock when working with clients at Go Primal Fitness and Training Institute in Gainesville, Fla., but any time he goes outdoors for training, he uses the Casio G-Shock watch for timing intervals and rest periods. "It's really durable," says Anthony, who has tried a number of watches. "You could probably throw it in the air and drop it, and it wouldn't break." PRICE: $99.

Related: Get more info on Casio G-Shock watch

4. Julbo Dirt Sunglasses with Polarized Falcon Photochromic NXT® Lenses
Photo courtesy of Julbo

4 JULBO DIRT SUNGLASSES WITH POLARIZED FALCON PHOTOCHROMIC NXT® LENSES

Master trainer Justin Spence wears his Julbo Dirt Sunglasses with polarized lenses when he's trail running or mountain biking. "I'm always in and out of the sun and shade, and the lenses adjust accordingly," says Spence, who is the owner of San Francisco wellness center Corpo Sano, where he uses Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) and the Z-Health Performance System to alleviate pain for clients. "The polarized lenses also kill any glare, allowing me to make more confident reactions and decisions on the trail." PRICE: $124.95.

Related: Get more info on Julbo Dirt Sunglasses with Polarized lenses

5. SanDisk Sansa MP3 Player
Photo courtesy of SanDisk

5 SANDISK SANSA MP3 PLAYER

“Music really helps me stay motivated and keeps me moving," says Bay Area-based kettle-bell and VIPR-certified trainer and group fitness coach Brian Tschida, who specializes in functional and sports-specific training at Equinox in San Mateo, Calif. He listens to everything from alternative rock to old school hip-hop, depending on what he's doing, and likes this Sansa MP3 player because it's "small and cheap."

Related: Get more info on SanDisk Sansa MP3 Player

6. Thera-band
Photo courtesy of Thera-band

6 THERA-BAND

“The Thera-band is good for strengthening any muscle group in any direction," says physical therapist Bruce Wilk. As the director of Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists, Wilk often coaches post-injury runners to help them return to the sport, and recommends the red band for medium resistance. If you’ve suffered any major injuries, make sure that you consult with your healthcare professional first. PRICE: $12.45.

Related: Get more info on the Thera-band

7. Garmin Forerunner 10 Watch
Photo courtesy of Garmin

7 GARMIN FORERUNNER 10 WATCH

Kelly McGovern a personal trainer at Equinox in San Mateo, Calif., and a coach at Crossfit Vis Performance in Belmont, Calif., is a runner and uses her Garmin Forerunner 10 watch to track her distance, pace and even average pace. "No matter where you are, you can always go for a run and know exactly how far you’ve gone," she says of this GPS-enabled watch. "Some models of the watch even monitor your heart rate and calories burned." PRICE: $129.99.

Related: Get more info on Garmin Forerunner 10 Watch

8. Omegawave
Photo courtesy of Omegawave

8 OMEGAWAVE

“This 'physiological readiness' tracker is the most important thing I carry," says master trainer Justin Spence of his Omegawave. "This device helps me optimize my daily training, identifies early signs of over-training and injury and tracks my athletic progress and adaptation," he explains. According to Spence, a group of ex-Soviet sports scientists spent 25 years developing the technology behind the Omegawave, which straps on like a heart rate monitor and measures cardiac variability, runs a simplified EKG to assess the aerobic and anaerobic systems, and performs a "DC potential" assessment of the nervous system (to gauge electrical activity in the brain and determine exercise-stress levels) before giving Spence advice on the type and intensity of training he's prepared to handle.

Related: Get more info about Omegawave

9. Control Company Stopwatch
Photo courtesy of Control Company

9 CONTROL COMPANY STOPWATCH

"We just launched our summer outdoor workouts at Refine, so I have been working on improving my stopwatch skills for use in timing our outdoor circuits," says Brynn Jinnett, founder of Refine Method, boutique New York City fitness studios that specializes in an athletic brand of circuit training using custom Refine equipment. The outdoor circuits add ViPRs, suspension straps, ladders and medicine balls to Refine's programming. PRICE: $24.95

Related: Get more info on Control Company Stopwatch

10. Polar RS100 Heart Rate Monitor
Photo courtesy of Polar

10 POLAR RS100 HEART RATE MONITOR

Master trainer Justin Spence uses this Polar RS100 heart rate monitor because it helps him follow its instructions "religiously," he says. Visual and audible alarms help keep his heart rate where it's supposed to be. "Having a percentage of my maximum heart rate, an average and maximum heart rate of each lap and an average and maximum heart rate of my overall workout are invaluable." Heart rate monitors are an essential tool for most trainers, as they can help you get a more accurate measurement of your effort and the number of calories you burn in each workout. PRICE: $119.95.

Related: Get more info on Polar RS100 Heart Rate Monitor

11. Rumbleroller Deep-Tissue Massage Roller
Photo courtesy of Rumbleroller

11 RUMBLEROLLER DEEP-TISSUE MASSAGE ROLLER

"I do not train without rolling out my entire body first," says trainer Ashley Borden. The bumps on this Rumbleroller help knead and stretch soft tissue and allow users to control the amount of pressure. "This size is perfect for a duffle bag or backpack," Borden says.

Related: Get more info on Rumbleroller Deep-Tissue Massage Roller

12. Lacrosse Balls
Photo courtesy of Rogue

12 LACROSSE BALLS

Trainer Jason Anthony uses these solid rubber lacrosse balls before a workout or at home to regain mobility and tissue suppleness. For example, he'll have clients lay on a ball on the floor to break up adhesions on their chest or sit on a ball to break up knotted-up glutes—"somewhat like a mobile deep-tissue massage." Trainer Ashleay Borden recommends using one to help relieve forearm tightness from grip work. "A racquetball would be too soft, and a softball too hard," says trainer Kelly McGovern. Borden recommends placing the lacrosse ball between yourself and a floor, chair or wall and let body weight do the work as you roll across the ball. PRICE: $2.99.

Related: Get more info on Lacrosse Balls

13. Rogue Monster Bands
Photo courtesy of Rogue

13 ROGUE MONSTER BANDS

"A lot of what I do before workouts with clients includes focusing on improving their joint mechanics and positioning," says trainer Jason Anthony. He uses Rogue Monster bands before training to get joints moving—for example, prepping the shoulder before overhead work. They are truly versatile and can be used for pretty much anything from stretching to plyometrics.

Related: Get more info on Rogue Monster Bands

14. Voodoo Floss Bands
Photo courtesy of Voodoo Floss Bands

14 VOODOO FLOSS BANDS

Trainer Jason Anthony uses Voodoo Bands for compression-based joint and tissue mobilizations by wrapping the bands tightly around a stiff joint or muscle and then taking the joint through full range of motion. They might not seem like much, but they really do work. Many of their customers report that they’ve helped them to prevent joint and connective tissue inflammation and even reduce pain.

Related: Get more info on Voodoo Floss Bands

15. Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF35
Photo courtesy of Badger Sunscreen

15 BADGER SPORT SUNSCREEN CREAM SPF35

When training outdoors, trainer Justin Spence use this all-natural sunscreen with non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide. This sweat-resistant sport formula is made to last for at least 80 minutes of intense outdoor activity. "It's amazing—I love that it has no greasy film." he says. “Plus, it protects me even after swimming and is nearly entirely organic,” Additionally, Badger Sport Sunscreen was included in the 2013 “Guide to Safer Sunscreens” approved by the Environmental Working Group. PRICE: $15.99.

Related: Get more info on Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream SPF35

16. New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes
Photo courtesy of New Balance

16 NEW BALANCE MINIMUS TRAIL SHOES

For those who spend their days in high heels or dress shoes, using a flat, minimally padded shoe, when appropriate, can have numerous benefits to strength, balance and safety, according to trainer Brynn Jinnett. "We encourage our clients to wear minimalist sneakers, like my New Balance Minimus shoes," says the former New York City Ballet dancer and Harvard graduate.

Related: Get more info on New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes

17. Dart CamelBak
Photo courtesy of CamelBak

17 DART CAMELBAK

"Hydration plus proper ergonomics equals better endurance and overall performance," explains trainer Ashley Borden. This Dart CamelBak includes storage for essentials in addition to a pocket on the harness enabling quick access. "I love the idea of hands-free hydration with bonus storage for equipment."

Related: Get more info on CamelBak Dart

18. Thermotabs Buffered Salt Tablets
Photo courtesy of Thermotab

18 THERMOTABS BUFFERED SALT TABLETS

“What we sweat out is water and salt, and sports drinks don't have enough salt," says physical therapist Bruce Wilk. For long runs, bike rides, and workouts—those that are three hours or more—Wilk uses sodium tablets that are buffered to prevent queasiness. Rather than recommending a specific amount or time to ingest the tablets, Wilk recommends consulting with your doctor as each athlete’s specific sugar, salt and water replacement needs are unique.

Related: Get more info on Thermotabs Buffered Salt Tablets

19. Nalgene ATB BPA-Free Bottle
Photo courtesy of Nalgene

19 NALGENE ATB BPA-FREE BOTTLE

"This is a hygienic bottle with an easy-to-shut cover," trainer Ashley Borden says of this Nalgene ATB BPA-Free bottle, which is made of non-leaching LDPE plastic with an opening large enough for ice cubes. Plus, as Borden explains, "You get a huge amount of water through the squeeze tip, making staying hydrated easy and clean." Brynn Jinnett agrees. "I sometimes forget to drink enough water, so I'm working on changing my environment by keeping a water bottle in my bag. We are big proponents of small changes instead of diet overhauls," she says. At Refine Method, she teaches clients to focus on one small daily behavior—like drinking more water—until it becomes habit.

Related: Get more info on Nalgene ATB BPA-Free Bottle

20. BlenderBottle
Photo courtesy of Blender Bottle

20 BLENDERBOTTLE

Trainers are always on the go and don’t always have time to prepare a wholesome protein shake requiring a lot of prep-work. To make a recovery shake after a workout, trainer Jason Anthony mixes a combination of whey protein, glutamine and an organic juice with this BPA-free, leak-proof blender bottle and ball—which breaks up clumps of protein powder. "It's really durable, and it simply doesn't leak," Anthony says.

Related: Get more info on BlenderBottle

21. Trader Joe's Omega Trek Mix with Fortified Cranberries
Photo courtesy of Trader Joe's

21 TRADER JOE'S OMEGA TREK MIX WITH FORTIFIED CRANBERRIES

Trainer Kelly McGovern eats this pre-packaged nut-heavy snack after a workout to prevent raiding the pantry. "It's an easy way to kick the cravings and stay on track," she says. "There are a variety of flavors—sometimes I'll eat the breakfast mix, which has granola." Just be mindful of the portion, because dried fruits and nuts are dense in calories.

Related: Get more info on Trader Joe's Omega Trek Mix

22. TRX Commercial Suspension Trainer
Photo courtesy of TRX

22 TRX COMMERCIAL SUSPENSION TRAINER

"An oldie but a goodie—I have yet to find something comparable to the TRX system," says trainer Ashley Borden. She uses it outdoors hanging off of anything from trees to support beams or doors. "The TRX is a great tool with a smart variety of exercises for building full-body strength, core strength and balance," she says. Borden recommends a slight foot-placement change to make it more or less challenging.

Related: Get more info on TRX Commercial Suspension Trainer

23. Feetures! Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab Socks
Photo courtesy of Feetures!

23 FEETURES! ELITE LIGHT CUSHION NO SHOW TAB SOCKS

These socks feature foot-contouring Lycra bands and a seam-free toe. They're the second pair of emergency socks that Borden keeps in her bag. "You never know—especially when you are training outdoors," Borden says. "I have been a faithful Feetures! fan for years. Their comfortable, athletic support is perfect, and the wick-able, non-chaffing fabric coupled with a heel tab is non-slip heaven."

Related: Get more info on Feetures! Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab Socks

24. New-Skin® Liquid Bandage
Photo courtesy of New-Skin

24 NEW-SKIN® LIQUID BANDAGE

This liquid antiseptic dries quickly to provide protection for wounds. "I always take precautionary measures, but I never know what's going to happen during my workouts," says trainer Ashley Borden. Just in case I get a scrape or blister during a run, I like to have a bottle of this in my bag to protect my wound against infection and other dirt and germs."

Related: Get more info on New-Skin® Liquid Bandage

25. Nature's Gate Creme de Peppermint Natural Toothpaste
Photo courtesy of Nature's Gate

25 NATURE'S GATE CREME DE PEPPERMINT NATURAL TOOTHPASTE

"I eat between five and six meals a day, often between clients," says trainer Jason Anthony. "So I make sure I have a toothbrush and non-fluoride toothpaste." Fluoride, which is added to most toothpastes to help fortify teeth from tooth decay, has attracted controversy for possible adverse health effects. So the safer option may be to avoid the added extra-ingredient in your toothpaste, and choose a more natural version instead. The ingredients in the formula that Anthony recommends include calcium, baking soda and aloe. PRICE: $5.69.

Related: Get more info on Nature's Gate Creme de Peppermint Natural Toothpaste

26. "Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath
Photo courtesy of Chip and Dan Heath

26 "SWITCH: HOW TO CHANGE THINGS WHEN CHANGE IS HARD" BY CHIP AND DAN HEATH

Trainer Brynn Jinnett dedicates a significant number of hours each week to continuing education, through reading research studies, books and attending seminars. She's currently reading “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” book about how to make lasting changes. "We find that most of our clients know what to do when it comes to living a healthy life, but don't always do it consistently, so the psychology of change is really interesting to me," says Jinnett.

Related: Get more info on "Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard"

27. Deck of Cards
Photo courtesy of Bicycle

27 DECK OF CARDS

Trainer Kelly McGovern get creative and uses a deck of cards with clients and while traveling. Each suit represents a different type of exercise (say, for example, burpees, pushups, air squats and sit-ups, with jokers being a minute cardio interval). She'll perform the number of reps indicated by the card, with face cards meaning 10 and aces meaning 11.

Related: Buy a deck of cards

28. Extra Shoes
Photo courtesy of Adidas

28 EXTRA SHOES

For heavy lifting and barbell work, trainer Jason Anthony prefers a stiff, flat shoe (rather than a narrow running shoe with a high heel). For running, trainer Brian Tschida wears the Brooks Trance, but for training, he wears a lighter shoe, like the Nike Free (describing the Nike Frees, he says, "they're light, but not completely minimalist"), a Nike Pegasus for working with clients and a SIDI cycling shoe. "Footwear is really important. It's good to get new shoes regularly," Tschida says. "If your feet aren't happy, you're not happy." Running coach Bruce Wilk has found that a good-fitting running shoe is more likely to blister at first when clients run longer distances. "A good training shoe doesn't feel like a slipper or sponge," he says. "It should feel like it holds the foot."

Related: How to Find the Right Running Shoes

29. Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Top
Photo courtesy of Lululemon

29 LULULEMON SWIFTLY TECH LONG SLEEVE TOP

"I spend my day racing between very different environments—from the studio to meetings and sometimes out to dinner--without always having the opportunity to change," says trainer Brynn Jinnett. This Lululemon Swiftly top is an ideal studio-to-street layer that is both warm and stylish.

Related: Get more info on Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Top

30. Beyond Yoga Lift Your Spirits Bra
Photo courtesy of Beyond Yoga

30 BEYOND YOGA LIFT YOUR SPIRITS BRA

This supplex bra combines removable pad inserts and racerback shoulder straps with a plunging neckline. "This is one of my all-time favorite light-to-medium support sports bras," says trainer Ashley Borden. She likes the sexy but functional neckline, and layers these with tops that may need more support. "There's no chaffing," she says. "I have especially sensitive skin to fabrics when I'm sweating, and this fabric is fantastic."

Related: Get more info on Beyond Yoga Lift Your Spirits Bra

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Have you tried any of these products? Which do you think is most important to have in your gym bag? Do you have a favorite go-to fitness product that we didn't mention? If so, leave a comment below and let us know.

Related: The 15 Toughest Do-Anywhere Workout Moves

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