10 items that fitness expert Nora Tobin swears by in (and out of) the gym

By Nora Tobin
March 06, 2013

Just as the perfect little black dress can boost your confidence level on a night out, certain fitness items have the power to make you work harder and feel better in the gym. Whether it's a piece of equipment or a hot pair of leggings, it's important to find what helps you stick with your routine and feel strong and sexy in the process. For me, the following 10 items do the trick.

Jump Rope

I'm always on the go, and sometimes it's difficult to find a gym or place to train away from home. The simple solution: I always pack my jump rope in my carry-on. There's no excuse to miss a workout when the perfect piece of cardio equipment is right inside my suitcase. I can jump rope anywhere and never fail to get a killer workout.

Click here for one of my go-to routines to burn fat, speed up metabolism, and get my heart rate up.

3-Pound Dumbbells

These portable muscle toners are another ideal piece of equipment to bring on the road. There are so many different ways to use them, but here are three of my favorites:

1. To tone my biceps, I hold the weights in front of my body (elbows off waist) and curl them in for 30 reps.

2. To keep the backs of my arms trim and tight, I do triceps extensions (Click here for a detailed description).

3. Finally, I use these weights to do shoulder and postural work. This involves T's, Y's, and W's, which are some of the most under-appreciated exercises (Get details here!).

Jade Yoga Mat

I always say to my clients, "the only way you'll do yoga is if your mat is with you." It is very difficult to practice yoga in your home or on a vacation without a mat. The key is finding a good mat and keeping it in plain sight, not in the closet, under the bed, in your car, etc. I love Jade mats because they use natural rubbers that lack heavy chemicals, which is refreshing when you're breathing deeply during yoga.

Splits 59 Workout Pants

There is nothing like a new, great-fitting pair of workout pants to help you feel confident and ready to rock your workout. Splits 59 is one of my personal favorite brands because they have very flattering designs that can easily be worn outside the gym.

Resistance Bands

With just this one, lightweight, portable piece of equipment, you can tone every inch of your body, but I especially love them for any type of arm or butt workout. They're so convenient--it's easy to toss them in a bag and fit in a sculpting session anytime, anywhere. (Click here for a fat-frying resistance band workout.)

Swiss Ball

Adding a Swiaa ball, or physio ball, to your core workout is an easy way to engage more muscles so you challenge your entire body at once and fast-track your results. Try any variation of planks on the ball to strengthen your deepest core muscles-trust me, you'll feel it right away!

Foam Roller

This is a very important piece of equipment for recovery, as it can help move the lactic acid out of your muscles and reduce soreness. I usually roll every night before bed, focusing on my quads, glutes, back, and lats. It doesn't take long, feels great, and makes a world of difference to your body.

Shaker Bottle

I try to have a protein shake after every workout to quickly refuel, rebuild the muscles I've worked, and speed up recovery. I find it much easier to do this when I plan ahead and put one scoop of protein powder in my shaker before I leave the house. This way, all I have to do is add water and I'm good to go!

Need something more than plain protein powder and water? Check out these 10 post-workout snacks top trainers swear by.

A Pumped-Up Playlist (iPod)

Great music makes a world of difference when it comes to your workout. A quick beat helps keep me moving in the gym and pushes me past my comfort zone. I also love to sing (even if I can't really carry a tune) so I'm always updating my workout playlist to include all of the most popular songs on the radio.

Music can also be a great motivator. Click here to see my go-to playlist for when I don't feel like going to the gym. It never fails to get me into training mode and make my workout fun (and fly by)!

Clean Towel

Simple, yes, but few people think about having a nice clean towel on hand until it's too late. This is a great way to avoid blemishes and keep your skin smooth. I take two towels when I work out-a small one to use during my workout and a big one for a post-session shower. And even if there's no shower available, I wash my face in the sink to clean off sweat and grime and help maintain a beautiful complexion.

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