Whether you’re an occasional gym user or a training enthusiast, we help guide you through the extensive kit options available and assess:
- Basic kit you must have for exercise
- Core items of kit that you need to get started or just to take part in your chosen activity
- Specialist training kit
- Hi-tech products that can help improve your performance
- Useful additions for exercise
- Kit items that you may not immediately think of but add value to your training experience
- Gadgets and gizmos
- Useful and not-so-useful products that are also available
Get the basics of exercise right
Equipment aside, whether you are just getting started in your sport or are a seasoned campaigner, most of the basic kit items that you need can either be inexpensive purchases or items that you already own. If you get hooked on your chosen activity, there are always specialist items that you can buy at a later date.
The following table contains a ‘basic kitbag’ that you will need for gym and exercise classes, or outdoor training.
Good training shoes are essential for comfort, durability and injury prevention
|Investment in good shoes is a must. Visiting a specialist retailer is worthwhile|
|Shorts||Your largest muscles are in your legs so shorts allow rapid ventilation||
Generally more suitable than tracksuit bottoms
|T-shirts||Standard kit you cannot do without||
A basic for every kitbag
Necessary for anything other than light workouts
|Suitable for gym or outdoor use|
|Socks||Sports models will provide more cushioning||
Start with basic items and move up if you feel necessary
|Particularly useful for outdoor activities||Provides protection from the elements and you can always roll up the sleeves if you get warm|
|Outdoor training jacket||Important for runners, walkers and outdoor enthusiasts||
Cheap models make you wet on the inside from sweat and also allow water through the outer material
|Stopwatch||Essential for outdoor training||
Useful for timing things like: laps, shuttle runs and circuits
|Sports bra||Essential for support||
The dynamics of sporting activity mean that standard bras simply do not provide enough support
Specialist and performance items
The majority of the specialist items assessed here are technical refinements of the basic kit items already listed. If your training is limited to a single exercise session per week, you may not wish to build up your wardrobe with an array of performance-enhanced products that you rarely use because the more hi-tech products typically command higher prices. Hence, your decision is likely to be influenced by your available budget. However, every item of specialist kit below will enhance your enjoyment or even performance in your chosen activity.
|Specialist Product||Technical Advantage||Verdict|
|Lightweight shoes||Lighter weight equates to faster times||
May be more unsuitable for regular training because their light weight is at the expense of cushioning and support
|Wicking, quick-dry shorts||
More comfortable when perspiring by wicking sweat away from your body
|Exercise comfort is important and modern materials aid your enjoyment|
|Wicking, quick-dry t-shirts||Helps to keep you dry and comfortable||Essential if you are going to be exercising frequently|
|Wicking, air-flow fabric vest||Breathable material prevents unwanted rashes and chafing||Lightweight material will allow you to get the most from your training|
|Left and right foot specific socks||
Shaped to match your feet with sweat wicking channels and technical material can prevent blisters
|Hi-tech versions do make a difference but can be expensive|
Thermal, water-shedding long-sleeved tops
|Keep you much dryer than a wet t-shirt||Hi-tech materials retain heat and shed water rapidly|
|Breathable, water resistant / proof jacket||
Have you ever been caught out in a downpour? You’ll understand how a hi-tech jacket helps
|Excellent for keeping the weather out but less effective on wicking sweat if you’re exercising hard|
Useful additions are those small, yet invaluable items that you add to your kitbag over the years. Generally cheap, nonetheless, they make a big difference to your enjoyment of your exercise or activity.
|Hat (thermal)||A must for very cold weather activities (1/3 of your heat is lost through your head)|
|Hat (baseball-style)||Useful for outdoor training on hot days to protect the head from sun and shade the face|
|Gloves||Essential for outdoor winter training|
|Waist or belt-bag||Useful for money, keys, mobile, energy gels etc|
|Training diary||Extremely useful to monitor progress and as a motivational tool|
|Water bottle||Important to main hydration indoors or out|
|Lace locks||Handy gadgets that prevent your laces coming undone|
|Sweatbands/ headbands||Useful if you perspire a lot, for hot conditions and for holding back long hair|
Gadgets and gizmos
Many of these items fall under the ‘specialist’ category, often appealing to the enthusiast who is very active within their sport. However, not all gadgets and gizmos are entirely beneficial, take a look at our verdict to help you decide if they’re suitable for your needs.
Heart rate monitor
A popular and highly useful tool for all types of training. A heart rate monitor helps you to accurately measure your effort rather than merely guess what training zone you think you are working in.
|GPS related app||
Provides a great way to monitor your routes, distance covered and speed. Particularly if you are going to be running races, then GPS related apps will give you a good idea of what time you should be aiming for on the day.
Music is a great motivator and many people could not be without it when training. Without complicated wires getting in your way, running while listening to your music through bluetooth headphones can make this option a lot easier.
Wearing sunglasses during outdoor exercise prevents you from squinting uncomfortably and protects your eyes from UV rays. A pair of sunglasses will also prevent any flies or bugs from finding their way into your eye.
Measures steps or distance. If you are struggling to find motivation for exercise then a simple and cheap pedometer might give you the push you need. If you can see how many steps you have completed, then you might be more likely to make up the last 1,000 steps to reach your target by exercising that little bit longer.