When you’re heading to the gym, it’s important to make sure you have everything you need for your workouts. Unfortunately, hectic work and personal schedules, combined with the rush of getting out the door in the morning, mean you often forget some of the most important items. Here we’ll break down exactly what should be in your gym bag so you’ll always have what you need.

The right shoes

When you head to the gym to workout, it’s vitally important that you have the proper workout gear, including footwear. Shoes with a wide toe-box will allow your toes to spread during movement, and a thin flexible sole will allow your feet to naturally stretch and recoil during impact. If your feet are strong enough however, then the best footwear is simply bare feet – allowing you to feel the ground and react quickly to movement.

Comfortable, yet functional clothing and workout gear

Choose something form-fitting, but not so tight that it’s restrictive. You want to see and feel the shape of your body while working out to ensure that you’re using correct form. If your clothing is too loose, you may not be aware that your body is out of alignment, which makes it more likely that you’ll strain or hurt yourself.

Your favourite playlist

Working out is a lot more fun if you have a great soundtrack to go along with it. Put together a playlist before you arrive at the club so you’re ready to go. Choose music that is upbeat to help keep you motivated and your heart rate up throughout your workouts. As a tip for running and cycling, listen to hip-hop or drum & bass – both of which are in the the right tempo range for optimal cadence; throw in some slower songs at the end for your cool-down session.

Water bottle

Even if the club has water fountains, you should still have your own water bottle as an addition to your workout gear. Having it at the ready while you’re working out will increase the likelihood that you’ll sip frequently to stay hydrated. It also makes it less likely that you’ll want to take a trip down the hall to get a drink and risk losing a spot on your favorite machine. For optimal hydration and recovery, add a pinch of salt to the water.

Personal care items

If you plan to wash and shower after your workout, be sure to pack all of the personal care items you’ll need, including shampoo, soap, deodorant and moisturizer. If you’re worried about the safety of using communal showers with bare feet, toss in a pair of rubber flip-flops.

Change of clothes

You never know when friends might want to go grab a bite to eat later on, so it’s always a good idea to have a fresh change of clothes in your gym bag. After all, you don’t really want to get back into the work clothes that you’ve been wearing all day. Pick something comfortable and casual to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after your workouts.