13 Things You Need in Your Home Gym or Workout Bag, According to Professional Trainers

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iStock

Making it to the gym is hard enough (your bed is just so cozy)—don’t make getting out the door even harder by scrambling for your gym clothes and equipment in your morning haze. Keep a bag packed full of these expert-approved workout essentials handy in order to take the guesswork out of your sweat sesh.

The gym not your thing? We’ve got you covered, too. Our experts recommend all the equipment you need to get a solid workout in at home (no treadmill required).

1. DUFFEL BAG; $45

Adidas duffel bag

Let’s start with the basics—you need a sturdy bag to hold all your gear. "A strong duffel bag with plenty of side pockets" is a must, says Jade Pearman, a studio manager and instructor at F45 Training in Dee Why, Australia.

Find It: Amazon

2. TOWEL; $10

Lightweight gym towel

Most gyms provide towels, but sometimes it’s nice to have your own. Pearman says her go-to is "small, soft, white, and fluffy." "It’s all about softness and smell!" she says. "I’m very particular in making sure my towels get washed with 'washing softener' and hung outside to air. So when I put that towel to my face during a sweat, blood, and tears workout I’m able to find a little bit of comfort."

Chris Barnes, a head coach at F45 in Surry Hills, Australia, adds that his has a small zip pocket for his keys.

Find It: Amazon

3. SNEAKERS; PRICE VARIES

Adidas sneakers

When it comes to buying sneakers, everyone has their preferred brand (Pearman’s is Under Armour, Barnes’s is Adidas). But no matter the make, fit is key. "I am in sneakers all day long, so I need a shoe that’s supportive but as close to being bare-footed as possible," Pearman says.

Find It: Under Armour, Adidas

4. WATER BOTTLE; $10

Nalgene flip-top water bottle

It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole when looking at the water bottles available today: glass, plastic, insulated, sports-top—the options are endless. Barnes says he likes to keep it simple: "I have a plastic sports bottle with a team brand on it—it’s BPA-free," he says.

Find It: Amazon

5. DUMBBELL SET; $45

A set of dumbbells

Barnes says a starter set of dumbbells of different weights should do the trick for your home workouts.

Find It: Amazon

6. KETTLEBELL SET; $30

A set of three kettlebells

For weight training, Pearman prefers kettlebells (or TRX bands, if available to you) to dumbbells. "We need to bring more pulling movement patterns into our exercise regime and less pushing exercises, as the majority of us have overactive pectoral muscle, which make us very rounded through the upper back," she says. "We need more work through the traps combined with more stretching through the chest muscles."

Find It: Amazon

7. FOAM ROLLER; $23

Two foam rollers

Feeling sore or tight from your workout? Using a foam roller for myofascial release is "a great way to de-stress at the end of the day, as well as a great tool to use to enhance sleep," Pearman says.

Find It: Amazon

8. RESISTANCE BANDS OR TUBES; $10

A set of exercise resistance bands

"I could give you 100, if not more, reasons why these are great to use," Pearman says. "Stretching, strengthening, mobilizing, or activating muscles pre-workout. Band walking is a favorite of mine—it’s a great way to activate the glutes before a workout!"

Find It: Amazon

9. EXERCISE MAT; $20

An exercise mat

Mats aren’t just for yogis. While a yoga mat will do the trick (for stretching and strength training) if you have one, Pearman says to otherwise look for a "thick but firm" mat that is about half an inch thick.

Find It: Amazon

10. MEDICINE BALL; PRICE VARIES BY SIZE

A woman using a medicine ball to exercise

Pearman tells us a medicine ball is "great for adding a bit of resistance when working the core." She recommends holding one while doing Russian twists or wood choppers.

Find It: Amazon

11. ADJUSTABLE STEP; $28

Adjustable exercise step

You don’t need fancy equipment for at-home workouts—you can often easily use a chair or stair instead of a bench or step in a pinch. But if you plan on doing most of your exercising at home, it’s worth buying the real deal.

Find It: Amazon

12. DRY SHAMPOO; 2-PACK FOR $16

Two bottles of Not Your Mother's dry shampoo

Planning on going straight to the office (or meeting up with friends) after the gym? Dry shampoo is a lifesaver when the shower line is too long. "Dry shampoo is an absolute godsend!" Pearman tells us. "It’s impossible to not sweat through the scalp during a workout, and impossible to wash the hair every day. Dry shampoo is probably an item I could not do without."

Find It: Amazon

13. CLEANSING WIPES; $9

Cetaphil cleansing cloths

Throw a pack of cleansing towelettes into your bag in order to instantly refresh after your workout. While they're made for your face, there’s no shame in wiping down your underarms, too!

Find It: Amazon

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Why Does Altitude Affect Baking?

This woman is going to make a quick stop at Whole Foods' bakery section before book club.
This woman is going to make a quick stop at Whole Foods' bakery section before book club.
nicoletaionescu/iStock via Getty Images

Even if you’re highly skilled in the kitchen, you might find yourself with a deflated cake or bone-dry brownies if you happen to be baking in Aspen, Colorado, for the first time. But why exactly does an oven at high altitude so often wreak havoc on whatever baked good is in it?

According to HuffPost, it all comes down to air pressure. The higher you are above sea level, the lower the air pressure is. This is mostly because there’s less air pressing down on that air from above, and it’s also farther from the gravitational forces on Earth’s surface. With less air pressure keeping liquid molecules in their liquid form, it takes less heat in order to vaporize them—in other words, boiling points are lower at higher altitudes.

“For every 500-foot increase in altitude, the boiling point of water drops by 0.9°F,” Dr. Craig F. Morris, director of the USDA ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory at Washington State University, told HuffPost.

Since liquids evaporate at lower temperatures, all the moisture that makes your signature chocolate cake so dense and delicious could disappear long before you’d normally take it out of the oven. To avoid this, you should bake certain goods at lower temperatures.

With less air pressure, gases expand faster, too—so anything that’s supposed to rise in the oven might end up collapsing before the inside is finished baking. Cutting down on leavening agents like yeast, baking powder, and baking soda can help prevent this. This also applies to bread dough left to rise before baking (otherwise known as proofing); its rapid expansion could negatively affect its flavor and texture, so you might need to adjust how much yeast you’re using.

If all the ways a recipe could go wrong at high altitudes—and all the experimentation needed to make sure it goes right—seem like a lot to keep track of, Betty Crocker has a handy chart with various types of baked goods and suggested modifications for them.

[h/t HuffPost]