The most important ingredient in any successful fitness routine is motivation. By focusing on why you want to lose weight or embrace a healthier lifestyle, you'll be much more likely to overcome obstacles, silence excuses and slam-dunk your goals.
That said, you probably have some favorite fitness tools, gear or gadgets that give you that little extra boost you need to get to the gym, the sidewalk or the Spinning class you've been wanting to try. Maybe it's a super-comfortable pair of running tights, the perfect running shoe or that one awesome headband that actually stays put.
Even the pros have their favorites. We asked more than 30 fitness trainers and experts what they can't work out without. Some of their answers may surprise (and inspire) you.
1. Franklin Antoian
One of Shape Magazine's Top 50 Trainers in America and Founder of iBodyFit.com - Boynton Beach, FL
Essential Gear: Polar V800 Heart Rate Monitor
"By tracking my heart rate, calories burned, distance traveled and other stats, my Polar V800 enables me to combine fitness and technology for the perfect workout."
2. Kat Haselkorn
Total Body Conditioning and Spin Instructor - Washington, DC
Essential Gear: Wunder Under Crops
"I can't live without my LuluLemon Wun der Under Crops. They are the perfect weight for spin class, running, conditioning and other activities. They are flattering (especially in black), sweat-wicking and they don't budge once they're on. The best part is the waistband has a few mini pockets for a credit card, keys and my pedometer."
3. Beth Weinstein
Ultramarathonner and Founder of OnlyAtoms.com - New York, NY
Essential Gear: Great-Fitting Running Gear
"Take the time to go into a running specialty store and get fitted for the best and most comfortable shoes for your gait and body...ones that make you feel like you're running on clouds. This will not only make you feel good working out and running, but will help keep you injury free. Also, invest in one really high-quality, great fitting and flattering pair of running shorts and capris. They'll make you look better and feel good, which will make you want to work out more."
4. Samantha Bowman
Figure Competitor, Fitness Coach and Blogger - Greensboro, NC
Essential Gear: Weight Lifting Gloves
"My must-have is weight lifting gloves by Harbinger. Look for ones with leather grips. These are not only to help your grip, but also to protect your hands. Men tend to shun using them in favor of a tough guy persona, but as a female, I love mine."
5. Sarah Bright
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor - Chicago, IL
Essential Gear: Heart Rate Monitor
"They can get a little pricey, but a heart rate monitor can give you invaluable information about your workouts. Fitness trackers are nice, but only a heart rate monitor will tell you how hard you're actually working, and if you're working hard enough to meet your goals. You'll also get a much more accurate reading of how many calories you're burning in a workout--essential if you're trying to lose weight. Since I started using these with my clients, we've seen results even faster because we know exactly what's happening."
6. Sarah Anne Kelly
Award-Winning Fitness Professional and Founder of MomTrainer.com - San Francisco, CA
Essential Gear: Online Tracking Site
"Join a popular tracking site so you can track your progress and have the support of an online community. Maintaining an online record will keep you on track and show you where you need improvement. Numbers don't lie." (We like the SparkPeople app.)
7. Ashley Pitt
Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Healthy Living Blogger - San Francisco, CA
Essential Gear: Foam Roller
"Foam rollers not only help warm up your body before a workout, but also help to soothe sore muscles for faster recovery. While many gyms have foam rollers, I think everyone should have their own at home. You can even use it while watching TV at night."
8. Shane McLean
ACE Certified Personal Trainer/Group Exercise Instructor - Dallas, TX
Essential Gear: Flat Looped Resistance Band
"It's portable, inexpensive and has numerous uses, such as assisting with stretching and adding resistance to bodyweight exercises. It can even replace traditional weight lifting exercises. It's a ready-made gym that you can take anywhere."
9. Tara Granberry
Indoor Cycling Instructor - Houston, TX
Essential Gear: Split 59 Black Crop Leggings
"Split 59 is one of my favorite athletic apparel brands due to their functionality, fit and fantastic durability. I teach 7-8 classes a week and these are my go-to crops. They have stayed in impeccable condition from the moment of purchase to the countless times they are worn."
10. Minna Herskowitz
Owner of Sandbox Fitness - Los Angeles, CA
Essential Gear: TRX Suspension Trainer
"If there is one piece of fitness equipment to own, it would be the TRX. It's portable, lightweight and works every muscle in your body. I love TRX because it's so versatile and can be used for any fitness level. You are using your own bodyweight as resistance, to make it as hard or easy as you want."
11. Dave Gaudette
Owner and Head Trainer of Front Range Boxing Academy - Boulder, CO
Essential Gear: Heavy Punching Bag
"I believe that there are few things more satisfying in the gym–and in life–than a good heavy bag workout. Punching the heavy bag works every muscle in your body, and develops both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. Once you learn how to bring the power from your legs into your punches, you finish tired but with a tremendous feeling of empowerment."
12. Kyle Kranz
Running Coach - Rapid City, SD
Essential Gear: SKORA Core Running Shoe
"Get a pair of high-quality shoes that make you feel good to wear, but are so comfortable that you forget you're wearing them. For me right now, that's the SKORA Core running shoe from skorarunning.com."
13. Catherine Basu
ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and the Owner of Fit Armadillo® - Houston, TX
Essential Gear: Polar M400 Watch
"I've tried many brands of watches myself and have seen additional models through my clients, but nothing beats the Polar M400 for consistent, accurate heart rate monitoring. While not all clients need a heart rate monitor, this feature makes it easy to make sure they're getting the most out of their workouts. I love the daily activity tracker and optional sound reminder to get moving during the day. The GPS tracking feature on the watch helps monitor your speed and progress throughout workouts. Finally, workouts can be uploaded to an online account. This helps clients see their progress and they can share their workouts with me."
14. Denton Coleman
Certified Exercise Physiologist, Holistic Fitness Specialist and Personal Trainer at Sartori Institute - Ogden, UT
Essential Gear: Stainless Steel Water Bottle
"The top essential that I recommend for gym-goers is a high-quality, stainless steel water bottle with a press filter, such as those made by GRAYL. The chemical pollutants, heavy metals and microbes commonly present in municipal water supplies can significantly alter the population of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and can stress the liver and kidneys with extra detoxification duties. If you're going to drink the water from your gym's water fountain, filtering it first using a high-quality water bottle will be very helpful in helping you achieve your health and fitness goals."
15. Alex McBrairty
Personal Trainer and Owner of A-Team Fitness - Ann Arbor, MI
Essential Gear: Food Log
"I would say the biggest gear essential would be a good food-logging app. Keeping a food log helps you be more conscientious about what you're eating, so you make better choices or second-guess bad choices. We make 200+ food choices daily, so most people don’t even realize they are eating poorly. Writing down what you eat helps you make many of those unconscious decisions noticeable, so you can identify what you’re doing wrong and work to fix it."
16. Dejuana Richardson
Personal Trainer and Sports Performance Coach at Asphalt Green - New York, NY
Essential Gear: Kettlebell
"Small and compact, this 18th-century invention checks all the boxes when it comes to building a lean, strong physique. The kettlebell's weight provides the resistance needed to develop strong, defined muscles, while supporting explosive movements to build power and endurance. Unlike exercise machines, there is no lying, sitting or holding on, making kettlebell workouts excellent for improving mobility. Kettlebells are inexpensive as equipment goes, and great for anyone with limited space, as they can be easily stored between workouts."
17. Francis Ramsden
Personal Trainer and Owner of Ramden Elite Fitness - Pittsburgh, PA
Essential Gear: Microfiber Towel
"For must-have gear, I would recommend a microfiber cooling towel, such as this one made by Mission. You simply run water on it, wring it out and you have a cooling towel that acts like an ice pack. Leave it around your neck or run it across your face as needed. Let's be honest, no one likes the feeling of those rough cloth towels provided by your local gym. You can't beat the value for the $15 price."
18. Alissa Rumsey
Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition & Wellness - New York, NY
Essential Gear: Lacrosse Balls
"These solid rubber balls are great for breaking up tight muscles and knots while helping to increase mobility. It feels similar to a deep-tissue massage, and can be done on your own using just your bodyweight. Place the ball between yourself and the floor or a wall, and let your body weight do the work as you roll across the ball. Lean against a wall to break up back and shoulder knots, or sit on the ball to help with tight glutes. It can also help with tight forearms, foot arch pain or calf pain."
19. Craig Cristello
Exercise Physiologist at Well and Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess - Scottsdale, AZ
Essential Gear: Tracking Devices
"Apps can be a great way to help keep you honest when embarking on an exercise program. Also, I'd recommend investing in a personal exercise pedometer or tracking device with app/website integration. These devices will track your movement throughout the day, and some will also provide feedback on healthy sleep. These are great tools to assist you with constant real-time tracking of your overall fitness activity.”
20. Lizette Perez
Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor - Winnetka, IL
Essential Gear: Good Playlist and Yoga Mat
"My must-have gear is a good playlist and a yoga mat. If you can't make it to the gym, there is no excuse. Everyone knows something they can do on a yoga mat. Whether it's push-ups, planks, sit-ups or squats, anything is better than nothing. I like Gaiam yoga mats because they work well and are affordable. Your playlist is your best motivator. Everyone loves to move to their favorite music."
21. Deazie Gibson
Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer - New York, NY
Essential Gear: Jump Rope
"A jump rope is a must-have piece of equipment. It can go anywhere with you. You can get an aerobic, anaerobic, strength, skill and agility workout with just one piece of equipment. No excuses!"
22. Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT
Nutrition Nuptials - Red Bank, NJ
Essential Gear: Resistance Band
"A resistance band is a great low-cost piece of equipment to keep around. While many come as sets, you can invest in one and increase or decrease the resistance by changing the grip on the band or folding the band over itself one or two times. The resistance band is great for full-body strength training, and can also be used for stretching to increase flexibility or address areas of tightness. If you travel a lot or live in a small space that doesn't have room to store a lot of equipment, a resistance band is the perfect portable tool."
23. Maurice Williams
MS NASM Master Trainer with Move Well Fit - Washington, DC
Essential Gear: Smart Watch
"I love the Deucebrand Lyfe Smart Watch. It tracks your calories burned, sleep, UV rays, steps taken and more. It's very affordable and comes with interchangeable band colors of green, orange and black."
24. Kate Hanley
Fitness Trainer with Acacia TV - Brooklyn, NY
Essential Gear: Yoga Strap
"You can use a yoga strap lying on the floor on your back, looped around the sole of your foot as you lift one leg up to 90 degrees for a fabulous hamstring stretch, then open the leg out to the side for a great hip opener. You can use it standing, holding it with each hand wide apart as you lift your arms up, over your head and then back behind you for a wonderful shoulder and chest opening. You can even make a big loop in it, hook one end around a doorknob and the other across the front of your pelvis for a great supported downward dog that really helps you lengthen your spine. It also packs well in a suitcase and is a great visual reminder to do something that feels great."
25. Wes Ferguson
Celebrity Trainer - Los Angeles, CA
Essential Gear: Coupons
"My must-have gear is the almighty penny pincher: Coupons! Save money on all that expensive stuff, from shoes to leggings, sports bras and even tech wear. Here's how: Join mailing lists, contact retailers about promos and ask about giveaways. When shopping online, always search for sales codes before you buy. You can also typically get a good deal at the end of the season when they're making room for their new lines. Remember, only those with more money than sense pay full price."
26. Lindsay Clayton
Star of the Bravo show "Work Out New York" and Founder of Brave Body Project - New York, NY
Essential Gear: Quick Cleansers
"No shower, no problem. Products we love? DryBar Detox Dry Shampoo and Malin + Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleaner."
27. Jeff Watters
Owner of Fitness Studio - Detroit, MI
Essential Gear: Functional Footwear
"Shoes are the single most important thing. Too many people go for fashion with regard to how they look and what they match. If you don't have the right type of shoe for your foot type and for the activity you're doing, you risk structural injury to everything from the ankle to the tendons around it. Running shoes don't have enough support for cross-training. Cross-training shoes are too hard without enough cushion for running."
28. Amanda Dale
Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor and Sports Nutritionist - Los Angeles, CA
Essential Gear: FitBit ONE
"I never leave home with my Fitbit ONE. It tracks my steps, sleep, weight, body fat, activity level, food and water, and keeps me on track each and every day. I love knowing exactly how I'm progressing on my goals and seeing that live feedback in real time throughout the day."
29. Liz Barnet
Fitness and Food Coach - New York, NY
Essential Gear: Trio of Home Workout Tools
"Getting to the gym can be a major hassle, so I recommend keeping some basic workout equipment at home so you can squeeze in a workout anytime. My must-haves are sliding discs, a foam roller and resistance bands. Sliding discs challenge your balance, coordination and core and take practically any exercise up a notch. A foam roller is key for working out the kinks to help you stay healthy and injury free; it can also be incorporated into many core exercises for a challenge. Finally, resistance bands are essential for strength training if you don't have access to weights or machines. They're also very useful for corrective exercises, which are essential for injury prevention."
30. Blair Wilson
Fitness Trainer with MedX Precision Fitness - Toronto, ON
Essential Gear: Stopwatch
"People waste a lot of time during their workouts by allotting more time than they need in order to get things done. Start using a stopwatch while you're working out to see how much time you waste in the gym. Hit start just before the exercise and hit stop when you're done; only keep time when you're actually working. You should strive to have a good work-rest ratio, with emphasis placed on how fast you get from one exercise to the next, not how fast you're doing each exercise."
What are your favorite workout tools, apparel and gear that help you get the most out of your exercise routine?
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