Whenever I go to my gym to work out, there are 3 items that I cannot do without. In fact, if I forget to put one of them in my bag, I tend to cut my work out short that day. It throws off my entire routine and that is crucial because when you are trying to maintain an exercise program, routine and consistency are the keys to success.

The first two items listed below can be overcome somewhat because my gym plays music throughout, however, for me it is not the same. Rarely do I like anything that is playing. But it is manageable for that day.

However, the last item on this list is non-negotiable. I use it for my cardio and if I forget to bring it, or the battery is dead when I get it out of the bag, I will skip that cardio session.

So here are my top 3 things that I need for a successful work out.

iPod Shuffle

3 Items I Cannot Do Without in the Gym
Credit: mjpyro

The iPod Shuffle is the best compact music player for exercising for one reason; the built-in metal clip.

This is not going to turn into a review of the Shuffle but I find it to be the best on the market in terms of durability, style and quality.

I have tried other brands from Sansa and Samsung but one broke down after a while and the other one was just plain weird to use.

The Sansa Clip mp3 player had a clip, but it was made of cheap plastic and it wasn’t long before it broke. After that, I had to stick it in my pants pocket when I worked out which did not work out well at all because the ear phones they supplied were not long enough to go down deep in your pockets. They were designed to clip the device to your shirt or pants.  Once the clip broke, it was useless to me.

I have owned 3 different iPod Shuffles over the last 7 years, however that is somewhat3 Items I Can’t Do Without in the GymCredit: mjpyro misleading. That would imply that they kept breaking and I would buy a new one, but that was not the case.  I was at fault. I accidentally washed 2 of them because I left them in my pants pocket.  Those first two never worked again after a spin around my washing machine.

Actually, now that I think about it, I also washed my third one too, however, I let it dry out before I tried to turn it on, and to my surprise, it worked. I am still using it 6 months after I washed it.

So these newer models must be more durable but if you ever get into that same situation, just let it dry naturally (don’t use a hair dryer) for a few days before trying to turn it on. If you try to turn it on while the components inside are still wet, it will fry it. This also applies to cell phones by the way.

Loop Ear Phones

3 Items I Cannot Do Without in the GymCredit: mjpyro

This one might seem trivial but I hate those ear phones that come with any mp3 player. I must have weird shaped ears because those things never stay in my ear. I can try to push them all the way in to my ear drums and they will still pop out, especially when exercising. And it is really annoying when you are in the middle of a set and you have ear phones flopping around everywhere.

I see these people walking around the gym with those Beats by Dre headphones and that just looks weird to me. It is too bulky. To me those things look like they would slip around on your head, especially if you lay back to bench press.

My solution is the around-the-ear plugs with the built-in loop. These things really work. I have purchased several pair from JVC and they are typically less than $20. They come with multiple adapters to form a tight seal within your ear, and they are the best way to listen to music in the gym. They are lightweight and durable.

However, if you are looking for some of the JVC ear phones to buy, don't get the JVC HAEB75B model. I bought those and they kept falling off my ear. I tried to return them to Amazon but they told me to keep them and credited my account.

These types of loopy ear phones can get very expensive, however, I do not recommend spending more than $20 on them because they are going to take a beating in your gym back and you just do not want to put that much money into them. The higher priced ones work the same way but they claim better audio quality and such, however, you are working out. It is not the time to be an obsessive audiophile.

Kindle Fire HD Tablet

3 Items I Cannot Do Without in the GymCredit: mjpyro

If I forget to take my Kindle Fire or I forget to charge it before I go, I will not do cardio on the treadmill or elliptical machine for that day. It is too boring. My gym has the television screens in front of the cardio area, but for me, I need more of a distraction and that is what the Kindle provides for me.

In fact, I wrote an entire other article about the best game to play on a Kindle Fire while you are exercising. I need that mind warp to get me through that very monotonous activity.

So with my Kindle in hand, I will grab some napkins from the dispenser to cover the display, then set my tablet right up there covering everything. Once you find the right activity to occupy your mind (mine is playing Chess), the time on the treadmill will zip by.


So there you have my 3 favorite accessories to get me through my work out. Yes, there are cheaper mp3 players on the market with more storage space, but I cannot stress enough how valuable that built-in clip is on the iPod Shuffle.

If you own a 7 inch tablet, try taking it with you to the gym and you will see what I am talking about. I have stayed on the treadmill before at the highest incline for 60 minutes playing Chess and Gin Rummy on mine. I would have never been able to stay on it that long without it.