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BW Businessworld

Sweat In Style

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There is one school of thought which holds that loose, comfortable clothes and a basic pair of sports shoes are all that are needed to hit the gym and do your daily exercise routine. Sure you could do that also. But sports and fitness accessories exist because they help you improve your performance, stay motivated, and monitor your progress. If you are taking the trouble to pay the fees of a high-end fitness club, it also makes sense to pick the right accessories — and a personal trainer — to get the most out of your workout. We cannot help you with your personal trainer. But here are some essential accessories you should equip yourself with, once you have chosen your gym bag and your exercise clothes.

(AP)Playing It By The Ear
The right music helps keep you motivated, hit the right tempo and complete your workout. Most good gyms play decent music for you to exercise with. The problem with depending on the gym's choice is that a) the music might not be to your taste, and b) might not be of the right tempo for your needs. Here's when you can keep an ipod shuffle or ipod Nano (the latter is more sturdy than the iPod Classic for workouts), a Sony Walkman MP3 player or any other flash drive based player handy. What is vital is to make sure you have loaded it right for your workout. While the basic exercise music can be found in chains like Planet M or music world, for exercise-specific music, websites such as www.powermusic.com, www.fitnessmusicshop.com or www.burntrax.com are better.

 Protecting The Arches
As we mentioned, you could probably get a decent workout even in a pair of basic ‘keds'. But if you are to do your exercises properly, be more careful while picking up your workout shoes. If you are just a beginner, you could opt for cross-trainers. They provide even lateral support, which makes them suitable for a variety of exercises. The MX8520 and MX720 from New Balance are perfect cross-trainers for someone looking for style, comfort and a responsive ride. For women, the adilibria Workout from Adidas is a good option. Once you are past the beginner stage you should choose different shoes for specialised workouts. Shoes for weight training need thicker soles and cushioning than those for working out on the stepper. So, it makes sense to match the shoe to the activity.

 Thirst Quencher
Carrying a water bottle to the gym makes sense. Though, some of you may argue saying when all gymnasiums have ample provision for water, why the unnecessary baggage? Well, the idea is to keep water or your favourite sports drink at a convenient reach when working out. The CamelBak Better Bottle that has recently gone stainless fits the bill of a perfect gym bottle. Made from medical-grade stainless steel, this single-walled bottle is naturally BPA (Bisphenol A)-free. Nathan's steel hydration bottle is another good choice. And for the more health conscious, there's the Back to the Tap Sports Water Bottle featuring a carbon composite filter device.

 Comfort Zone
However good your gymming shoes are, they cannot be comfortable enough without a good pair of gym socks. Now that a lot of innovation is going into the fabric of socks, one can go for one that is specially padded for maximum comfort. Such as Nike's Cotton Footie socks. Designed specially for women, they are made of ventilated mesh to keep feet cool and dry. The Y-stitch heel pocket and the mixed fabric provide comfort. For men, Nike's Dri-FIT half-cushioned low-cut socks are a good buy with dynamic support, top-of-foot ventilation and sweat-wicking Dri-FIT fabric. Cotton socks should be strictly avoided as they absorb the moisture from feet and remain damp, causing blisters.

 Smart Monitoring
Right music, right shoes, right socks — what next? Well, your training session is incomplete without knowing to what extent you are improving. This is where a polar heart-rate monitor also known as training monitor comes into play. It not only helps you fine-tune your body, assisting you in training at the right intensity to improve your fitness and strength, but also reveals how many calories you are burning. The SIGMA ONYX classic is a clear winner. Its large display figures and the watch's ease of use makes it popular. Simple to set up, it is very easy to synchronise the monitor with the chestband. The POLAR F11 (right), which includes a personal training programme, is equally good.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 21-09-2009)