Friday, March 3, 2017
My Tips for Gym Success: Optional Gear that Makes Life Easier
You don't need anything fancy to go to the gym. Breathable clothing that you can comfortably move around in and supportive shoes- that about covers the necessities. BUT if you've been going to the gym for a bit and realize, hey, this is maybe something that might stick, then here are a few things that might make your life a little easier and more comfortable.
An armband for your phone
If you feel like music improves your exercise, you're not imagining it. There's actually a study that shows listening to music increases your endurance by about 15%. I am almost physically incapable of exercising without music. One time I accidentally brought a dead pair of headphones to the gym and it was, without exaggeration, the worst workout I've ever had.
A few weeks ago I watched a video of a healthy living blogger doing pushups with her phone in her sports bra and I found myself thinking, "Oh honey, why." I used to keep mine in there too but it got sweaty and gross and sometimes it would fall out or down and it was super annoying. Plus it feels weird to fish your phone out of your boobs in public if you want to change the song or answer a text.
This armband is currently on sale for six dollars. I've had it for years and it's only just barely starting to show a little wear. It's a good investment.
[also, please drop your best gym jams in the comments. My playlist has changed very little in the past few years and it's feeling a bit stale! Help!]
It took me a long time to give into the gloves. My gym is mostly old people and a lot of them wear gloves and so my brain sort of subconsciously made the association that weight lifting gloves are for old people. But then I started lifting heavier weights and my hands were getting beat. PLUS my legs are significantly stronger than my arms so my leg days are sometimes limited by what my hands and arms can handle. Gloves help me grip heavier barbells. They're not a necessity but they are really nice if lifting sometimes hurts your hands.
[I linked to mine, which I actually bought at Target for cheaper, but I've only had them a few months and they're starting to fall apart a bit. I like them ok but I'm sure there are other options out there that will hold together longer]
A FitBit (or something similar)
I recommend this...sort of. There are caveats. I inherited Aaron's FitBit when he bought himself an Apple Watch for Christmas, otherwise I doubt I ever would have bothered. I do actually really love it but it has limited usefulness if you're lifting.
FitBit tracks steps but lifting weights involves a lot of staying in one place. I can kill myself in the gym for an hour and only get 2500 steps. It feels like my fitness tracker isn't giving me much credit for the fact that I am putting a LOT of effort toward getting fit. There are plenty of days where I get a really good workout in but still don't hit the 10,000 recommended daily steps. It's weirdly demoralizing, especially since I have friends who get like 16,000+ steps a day (you can follow your friends and see how they're doing, cheer them on, etc through the FitBit app).
But FitBit does track caloric burn. Figuring out what and how much to eat has been the hardest part of all this for me (working on a post about this) and seeing how many calories I've burned has helped me make sure I'm eating the right amount.
Also, it just makes me be generally a lot more active. I've added miles to hikes just to see how many steps I could get. I go for walks with my daughter in the stroller because my FitBit says I'm being lazy. So there's limited usefulness when it comes to lifting weights but, overall, having a FitBit makes me move a lot more throughout the rest of the day.
A silicone ring
Lifting weights while wearing metal rings isn't a great idea. There's a lot of pressure and it can damage your ring or your finger (Google "degloving injury" if you've got a strong stomach). If you wear a wedding ring and the idea of taking it off to go to the gym makes you feel weird, a silicone ring is a great alternative. I got a 4-pack from Amazon for cheap and I love them. Also, I don't get guys bothering me at the gym very often (see: almost everyone is aged 65+) but the few times it has happened were all on days I wasn't wearing a ring. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not, but it's nice to just be left alone while I do my workout.
My gym has stretchy bands but they're the straight kind and I was always having to knot them to make loops for banded squats, some of my ab exercises, etc. My gym time is limited (I have one hour between when it opens and when I need to be home to wake my kids up for school) and it always took me several minutes to get them knotted comfortably and to the proper length. It felt like such a waste of precious time. I finally just bought my own (looped) resistance bands. They're only $12, which is totally worth it for me. Plus having them opens up some home exercise options for days I can't make it to the gym.
Workout clothes don't have to be fancy but it's nice to have a couple changes, especially if you get sweaty and don't want to be washing your sports bras every day. Try TJ Maxx, Ross and Wal Mart for really affordable gym clothes. I got an $89 pair of yoga pants for $15 at TJ Maxx a few weeks ago and they're fantastic. The Danskin Now line from Wal Mart is (I'm embarrassed to admit) pretty great and comprises most of my gym wardrobe (if you watch my IG stories, this comes up a lot). Make your stuff last by washing on cold and laying flat to dry.
Decent socks are weirdly important to me when it comes to working out or hiking. If all I have left in my drawer are those ones that slip down into my shoe every time I move then I probably won't even leave the house. I recently got a pack of men's Adidas socks from Costco and I love them SO MUCH.
[I think these are maybe the same ones but they were way cheaper at Costco. I've also seen some good options at TJMaxx recently]
Again, none of this is necessary (well, except for the clothes and socks but you know what I mean). You can get into great shape without any of it! But sometimes the little extras just make life a bit easier.
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