9 Workout Essentials That Make Exercise Easier

The Fitness Tools You Need for a Safe, Effective Program

Workout essentials

Getty Images / Peter Stark

Are you getting ready to start a workout program? Perhaps you want to make your current exercise sessions more effective. Either way, having key workout essentials can boost your motivation, make fitness sessions easier and help you lose fat faster. Whether you are beginning a workout program to lose weight, or simply trying to improve the way your body looks and feels, the process will work better if you are properly equipped.

Essential workout gear can also boost safety. For example, if you are an outdoor exerciser, the first thing you may want to consider is an identification bracelet. Brands like Road ID make wrist bands that you can wear while you work out indoors or out. No one ever wants to believe that an accident can happen, but if one does, you want to make sure that emergency workers have important health and identification information right away.

What other workout essentials do you need? Check this list of fitness gear to satisfy every budget and workout style. Then use the pro tips to make the most of your exercise tools.

Reusuable Water Bottle

variety of waterbottles for workout

Proper hydration is essential during your workout. But in most cases you shouldn’t rely on sugary, calorie-laden sports beverages, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

The American Council on Exercise recommends that exercisers hydrate only with water for sessions lasting less than an hour. Get a refillable, resealable water bottle that is easy to carry and easy to clean. Brands like Contigo (pictured above) offer bottles that are easy to use before during and after your exercise session. They also provide water bottles that allow you to flavor your water with fresh fruit for an extra burst of (healthy) flavor.

Buy more than one water bottle and keep them filled and ready to grab in your refrigerator. Add a cucumber slice or a few blueberries for flavor. That way, you won't be tempted to grab a sugary soda when you're thirsty.

Fitness Tracker that Measures Heart Rate


well-designed workout program should be balanced with hard intervals days, longer moderate sessions and easy recovery sessions. But how do you know how hard you are working? You can use perceived exertion, but that method doesn’t always work.

A fitness tracker that measures heart rate can give you the numbers you need to make sure you are always exercising at the most effective intensity. Polar trackers, for instance, provide users with access to specific data that helps them to improve fitness with less effort. The brand's innovative Running Index can help you to reach speed goals without exhausting yourself or overtraining.

The Fitbit Ionic and Fitbit Versa provide heart rate data both during your workout and throughout the day to help you reach fitness goals. You'll also get a wide range of lifestyle and exercise apps to keep your program on track, including Fitbit Coach—programmed workouts delivered to your wrist, and the Relax app to help you unwind and destress.

Invest in an extra band for your fitness smartwatch so that you have a style that matches every look—for the office, for home, and for a night out. The more you wear your band, the more data you gather, and the more useful the device can be.

Headphones or Earbuds for Exercise

workout essentials
Altec Lansing

Most people can complete longer exercise sessions if they are entertained while they work out. A good pair of wireless headphones or earbuds is a key workout essential that will help you do that. 

True EVO Wireless Earbuds by Altec Lansing are completely wire-free so there is no cord to get tangled up when you're in the gym or out on your run. The earbuds feature Just Ask technology so you have hands free access to playlists, weather reports, directions, and more with a simple voice command. And you'll get a solid three-hour charge so you can keep moving without interruption. 

If you exercise outdoors, you may want to consider Sony Xperia Ear Duo. These wireless open-ear stereo headset allows you to hear the outside world while listening to your favorite workout tunes. And the volume automatically adjusts depending on your surroundings so your safety is optimized during your outdoor ride or run.

If you want to measure data on your workout, consider brands like Jabra make several models at different price points that are designed specifically for regular exercisers for use with their novel coaching app. Their headphones measure heart rate, distance, and other workout data.

Lastly, if you like the feel of traditional headphones, try Hellas by Urbanears. These wireless, sweat-friendly headphones cover the entire ear and are washable so that you don't have to worry about your gear getting funky.

Skip the podcasts and listen to music during workouts. Studies have shown that listening to music at a steady pace (120 bpm or more for cardio workouts) can help you to maintain a more intense pace.

Sport-Specific Shoes

best workout shoes
Yagi Studio / Getty Images

You shouldn’t run in walking shoes, you shouldn’t bike in running shoes, and you shouldn’t play tennis in shoes made for the mall. A good pair of shoes, designed specifically for the workout you’ve chosen, could make the difference between completing your exercise session comfortably and quitting due to pain.

When you shop for your shoe, it may be worth your time to go to a store devoted to your sport. Walking stores, for example, have experts that can evaluate your gait, your size and your foot structure to give you a proper fit. Try on several pairs before you make a decision.

Also, consider brands that design shoes with proper support. For example, Brooks makes walking, running, and lifestyle shoes in different styles and several different widths. And brands like Vionic make shoes for the gym and for a night out on the town that have specially designed arch support for good foot health. Getting your daily miles or steps in gets much easier if your feet are happy and healthy.

If you walk or run often, invest in more than one pair of shoes. Alternate the pair that you wear each day. It helps the shoes "rest" between workouts and minimizes wear.

Smartphone Armband

fitness armband

If you exercise outdoors, it's important to bring your smartphone when you exercise. That way, you're always connected to support services if there is an emergency. If you exercise indoors, having your smartphone nearby means that you stay connected to your favorite tunes or podcast while you work out.

Armbands for your smartphone come in various styles, but the armbands made by Sprigs are extra convenient because they fit any size phone. Built-in grip dots keep your device in place and the stretchy custom performance fabric doesn't scratch your arm. 

If you run or walk in cold weather and your armband doesn't fit on your upper arm over cold-weather layers, slide it down and wear it on your forearm.

Digital Scale

Fitbit Aria 2. Fitbit

You'll want to measure your workout progress by measuring the results on a digital scale. The folks at Fitbit make a streamlined, high-tech scale that interfaces with their digital app to provide program guidance. The Fitbit Aria measures body fat percent, BMI and tracks it for you on your computer or smartphone. 

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a dated, biased measure that doesn’t account for several factors, such as body composition, ethnicity, race, gender, and age. 


Despite being a flawed measure, BMI is widely used today in the medical community because it is an inexpensive and quick method for analyzing potential health status and outcomes.

If you're on a budget there are other scales for less money. For example, you'll find Taylor digital scales at many home goods stores and many of them retail for under $30. 

Comfortable Fitness Apparel

You’ll work out more often, exercise harder, and feel better in your body if you have workout clothing that makes you look and feel good. Compression gear is a favorite among many avid exercisers. Some experts say that it can even improve recovery after your workout is complete. Brands like lululemon, 2XU, and Nike make compression workout gear in figure-flattering styles.

When you put together your workout wardrobe, you should also look for clothes that are made out of wicking fibers. These are garments that help move moisture away from your body so you feel dry and comfortable while you exercise. And buy pieces that you can layer so that you can work out in all weather conditions.

Lay out your workout gear the night before a morning workout so there is no guesswork when you get up. Simple steps like this make sticking to your program easier.

Sunscreen and Body Balm

This workout essential is often overlooked. But if you exercise outdoors, sunscreen is a must. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s harmful rays can damage your skin and put you at risk for cancer. Look for a sweat-proof variety of sunscreen and possibly separate products for your face and body. If possible, get small containers to carry with you on longer workouts so that you can re-apply as needed.

Many exercisers also swear by body balms to prevent chafing. You use these skin lubricants on areas of your body that rub so that you don't end up with abrasions. You'll find brands like Bodyglide online or in your local sporting goods store. 

Slather on your sunscreen before you get dressed. This gives the sunscreen a chance to sink in and ensures that you don't skip key areas around the neck, armholes, and other easy-to-miss areas.

Eye Protection

Some sports, like biking, are safer when the exerciser has sport-specific eye and head protection. Even walkers should protect their eyes on sunny days. Find a pair of sunglasses that have a rubber or non-slip bridge over the nose so that when you begin to sweat, your glasses don’t slide down your face. Sport glasses are made in a wide range of styles and price ranges so compare prices to find a pair that fits your budget.

Keep your sunglasses near your bike helmet so you don't forget to grab them when you hit the road. It's not fun to get miles away from your door and realize that you forget a key piece of safety equipment at home.

A Word From Verywell

You don't have to spend a lot of money to start an exercise program. But having at least some of these workout essentials will help you feel more comfortable and maybe even more confident during your sessions.

You also don't have to buy these fitness tools all at once. Start with your favorite workout gear, then schedule a purchase every few weeks as motivation for sticking with your program. You'll be more likely to stay on track and stick with your schedule with rewards along the way.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. ACE. Hydration strategies for optimal performance.

  2. CDC. Skin cancer.

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.