If you’re buying gifts for somebody who’s into working out, they’d probably love a big-ticket item like a Peloton or squat rack. But what if your budget is smaller, and you just want to help them stock their gym bag with helpful, smaller items? Here are the best fitness accessories that they’ll actually use.
2 / 18
Every gym that has barbells should have good collars, but reality doesn’t always live up to our expectations. Collars will often be missing, broken, or rusty as hell. Get a pair of sturdy plastic ones in their favorite color (these are $12), or buy these snap bracelet-style clips for something a little different.
3 / 18
The ideal headphones for the gym or for running should be sweat-proof, comfortable, and incapable of falling off mid-workout. Bonus points if they’re wireless and open-ear. Shokz headphones check all those boxes, and I can throw in a personal recommendation since I’ve had a pair of their older Aeropex model (now the OpenRun, $99) for a year or two and love them. If your person is a swimmer, they even have a completely waterproof model, the OpenSwim ($129), that can store its own music.
4 / 18
Do saunas, cryotherapy, compression boots, and massages actually help you recover better? The evidence is mixed, but what we know for sure is that a lot of folks love the stuff. Look for a “recovery lounge” or “recovery spa” in your area and grab a gift card for a day’s services.
5 / 18
Every form of exercise has a preferred style of shoe. For lifting, you want specific heeled or flat shoes. For running, you want shoes that fit your feet and feel comfortable on the run. For cycling—indoor or outdoor—you want shoes that work with the type of cleats you use on your pedals. Shoes are a personal choice, but they’re also something all athletes go through multiple pairs of.
So if you can’t get them to drop a hint about a new type of shoe they’d like to try, all you have to do is sneak a peek at the tag inside their current pair. (This is especially good for runners, whose shoes wear out so quickly they’re basically disposable.) They’ll be grateful for a fresh pair.
6 / 18
This one is for the runners and other outdoor sport enthusiasts. Sunglasses tend to slide off your head when you’re slick with sweat, so runners swear by specific brands that don’t slip and that ideally have a polarized coating. Goodr, for example, is runner-approved and only $25.
7 / 18
For somebody who doesn’t want to tote a whole duffel bag around the gym, a water bottle sleeve is incredibly useful. These from H20Capsule ($30) include a phone pocket, carrying strap, key holder, and a wide enough mouth to add ice.
8 / 18
Straps can help you hold onto a bar or dumbbell so that your grip strength doesn’t have to hold back your training for the rest of your body. Regular lasso-type straps are great for most folks, but if you want to give something really special, consider a pair of sturdy figure 8 straps ($35) from Cerberus.
9 / 18
Any old socks are fine for the first few miles of a run, but once you’re doing serious mileage you need better socks to avoid blisters. Cyclists and other endurance athletes have similar needs. Get a pair of socks from a brand like Balega (try these no-shows for $19) that specializes in wicking materials and a blister-free fit.
10 / 18
A great item for gym beginners is a pair of 1.25-pound micro plates. In most gyms, the smallest plates are 2.5 pounds, meaning you can only go up 5 pounds when you’re ready to add weight. (Sometimes the 2.5-pounders are hard to find, so it could be helpful to have your own pair of those, too.) Give a pair of small plates ($31 and up) so they can always have their own on hand.
11 / 18
Gyms often have stretching and foam-rolling items, but if you’re going to be rubbing your body all over something, it can be nice to have your own. Consider gifting a stretching strap ($17) with handles all down its length, or a mini foam roller to fit comfortably in their gym bag. Yoga mats, straps, and blocks can also be handy.
12 / 18
Massage guns are another of those technology that may or may not actually help recovery, but that can definitely feel good on sore muscles. While a top-of-the-line TheraGun costs $399, cheaper models like this $39 TaoTronics can also deliver a nice massage.
13 / 18
After you work out, you have to wash up. For someone who regularly showers at the gym or who goes in the morning and has to freshen up for work, a well-organized toiletry bag will be a substantial improvement over fishing for mini bottles at the bottom of their gym bag. Hanging toiletry bags like this from Sea to Summit ($24) will keep things organized and close at hand.
14 / 18
Knee sleeves are the kind of thing you don’t realize you need until you give them a try. They don’t prevent injury or (usually) add weight to your squat, but they make your knees feel nice while you’re lifting. Any pair that’s 7-millimeter neoprene should be good, such as these from Hookgrip ($35).
15 / 18
Changing the plates between sets of deadlifts is one of the more awkward gym tasks, but a deadlift jack makes the job a lot easier. But since most of us don’t have room for an entire deadlift jack in our gym bag, try the lightweight Dead Wedge ($15).
16 / 18
Taking videos of your lifts can be a great way to check your technique (or make a funny TikTok clip of your fails). A proper tripod does this job a lot better than leaning your phone somewhere or having a wobbly-handed gym buddy hold it. Inexpensive tripods are available everywhere, like this $12 one from Ubeesize.
17 / 18
Of course, the ultimate gym bag gift is the gym bag itself (which you can stuff with any of the previous items if you’d like to really go all out). The UA Undeniable bag ($45) has a compartment for shoes or dirty laundry, or go with an Adidas Defender ($40) with its water-resistant fabric to protect against wet locker room floors.
18 / 18