Fitness gear can be expensive. Whether it’s running shoes, a smartwatch, or a couple of nice sports bras, it’s easy to spend a lot preparing for your workout. But not everything breaks the bank! Here are the best things you can buy for your gym bag for under $100.
I’m picky about workout headphones. I don’t like when they block out the sounds around me, and I’m always worried about earbuds falling out of my ears. Shokz headphones are open-ear, over-the-ear, and they tend to be decently sweat-proof. Most models are over $100, but the OpenMove is currently $79.95.
Lifting straps help you to do more reps of rows, pulls, and deadlifts than you could with your grip strength alone. They aren’t cheating, no matter what some know-it-all bro might try to tell you. (That said, they aren’t allowed in most competitions—but even competitive athletes tend to use straps in most of their training.)
We have a rundown of the best types of lifting straps here, depending on what kind of lifting you do. To give you an idea of the range, Basic lasso straps cost about $15, while Versa Gripps go for around $60.
Good athletic socks are such an upgrade from the basic cotton ones you buy by the 15-pack. They’re especially important if you do a repetitive movement like running; the best socks not only keep you comfortable, they also prevent blisters.
Before I developed my tragic wool allergy, I was a big fan of Smartwool running socks, which tend to run around $20-25 depending on the style. These days I opt for Swiftwick running socks, which use synthetic fibers. They run about $10-15 per pair.
If your knees ever feel a bit achy during squats, knee sleeves may be just what you’re missing. Don’t expect them to prevent injury or add 50 pounds to your squat, but you may be surprised at just how comfortable they make your knees feel. I’d recommend a pair of 7-millimeter neoprene sleeves, which you can buy for about $60 depending on brand.
A belt to carry your stuff
If you can’t bring a gym bag with you for all your exercise, you’ll need a way to carry your stuff. This is especially an issue for runners, but I’ve also found that my Flipbelt is an excellent gym companion on days I’m wearing leggings without pockets.
You can read my reviews of the SPIbelt and Flipbelt here. (TL;DR: I like them both.) The basic SPIbelt is about $25, and the Flipbelt is around $35. I’m also a fan of the Flipbelt leggings, which have a ridiculous amount of pocket space, and are currently retailing for $59.
Even if your gym “doesn’t allow” chalk, chances are they won’t actually stop you from discreetly using a bit of liquid chalk. You can buy an enormous bottle, or go for a keychain-sized portion, like this one for about $12. Chalk (liquid or otherwise) helps to provide some grit between your sweaty hands and the bar, allowing you to grip more securely without having to put on straps. Liquid chalk is virtually mess-free, and often works even better than the traditional kind.