Top 5 Gym Must Haves

LEAN Ambassador Sarah Donohue's blog


When we look at gym must haves, we are all in different places with training so choices may vary slightly but there are some things you simply cannot go without. Some are obvious some aren’t, but either way take note of my shortlist.

1. Hitting the top spot is fluid

Water is the most important ‘must have’ when training. You don’t want to be running to the water fountain during training and you must keep hydrated, especially if the previous evening you have had a late night or been out for dinner eating highly salted food and drinking alcohol. They say drink 2 litres of water a day. It’s not an old wives tale when people talk about water. A 2% dip in water in the body causes the brain to shrink slightly. YES REALLY! You must remember that your brain is 95% water and even your blood is around 82% water. Basically you are made up predominantly of water and this fluid is critical in balancing all of your bodily systems. A 2% dip in water can impair neuromuscular coordination and a drop in strength and endurance. We have all been dehydrated and when we are we sometimes get muscle cramps and headaches.

Water is a key fluid for maintaining muscular response and critical for the brain and the heart, lungs and kidneys. Water is responsible for a lot more than this but this is just for starters. I could write a chapter on water.

So can you deny this hits the top spot for a gym ‘must have!’ Always carry a water bottle. I take my LEAN shaker everywhere and during a workout I fill it up to 4 times.

2. A good quality sports bra (important for most women)

You cannot use the excuse that you have an A or B cup. It doesn’t matter what size you are. I have watched girls in the gym or at running events and I see an abundance of boobs bobbing up and down and left and right and in circular motions. So much so it makes me dizzy. Ladies STOP! Mine don’t move in the gym, they are rendered down and so should yours be and here’s why.

Your breasts are made up of fatty tissue and held in place mainly by skin and fragile ligaments, neither of which can support the bouncing movement of boobs sufficiently enough to not cause an issue. And here are some issues.

Number one is the aesthetics of your boobs. Every woman’s nightmare is sagging boobs. Once the skin loosens and the ligaments are damaged there is no reversal.

Number 2 upper back pain which can stay with you if untreated throughout life.

Without wearing a bra your boobs during activity can bounce around 9cm. Wearing a normal bra reduces this but its not enough. Wearing a good sports bra reduces it even further and depending on the quality of the bra they can often barely move. I do understand that often our income dictates what we can afford to buy, but two good sports bras and hand washing them they can be rotated and this is much cheaper than plastic surgery for correction.

Sports bras from the cheaper shops are usually NOT sufficient enough if you are a C cup or above. A good sports bra can cost upwards of £25 some a lot more, but seriously ladies this equipment is vital for your personal equipment. In my opinion when buying a sports bra if you normally buy a 32 back, buy a 34 reducing cup size to balance it. It’s better to have a marginally bigger back because your lungs and rib cage need more room to expand but keeping the cup size smaller to keep those puppies tied down. If you are a 32G my advice is to buy a 34E or F. It’s not like you are going to over-flow because a sports bra encases them. Render them down ladies!

80% of women wear the wrong size bra. There are bras for low impact and high impact work. for me are the best bras on the market.

3. Training shoes

Good quality training shoes are essential and again they can be expensive but there are outlet malls where you can get great footwear at discount prices. Do not overlook the power of a good shoe. I have always said that our feet are our taxis and they are the most overlooked part of the body. Everything starts at your feet and in layman’s terms the vibrations and pressure through your feet goes through your ankle and knee joints and through your hips into your spine and can cause pain and injury if you aren’t careful. We are connected everywhere, don’t overlook your personal taxis.

Some shops such at in Covent Garden have experts on hand that can do your ‘gait analysis’ and this tests your pronation. Basically we all run differently and all trainers have slight variations to make sure that running injury is greatly reduced and that running is a comfortable experience. They will film your feet running on a treadmill for a couple of minutes and then watch it back in slow motion to check your running style. They will then suggest what type of trainers you should be wearing and why. You aren’t committing to buying trainers by having this measured. They are there simply to help you and give you results.

4. Whey Protein

This is to consume after your workout. I take a scoop of LEAN’s whey protein with me and on finishing my workout I fuel my body with protein. It helps muscle synthesis. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair.

5. BCAA’s

BCAA’s. Branch Chain Amino Acids. These are the building blocks of muscle and I would especially suggest these if you spend most of your time in the weights section. I carry LEAN Nutrition’s BCAA’s in by sports bag and they are always with me when I am training. These amino acids make up around 35% of your muscle mass and are needed for development and growth.


Sarah Donohue is LEAN Nutrition's head ambassador. With experience as former body double to Angelina Jolie and as a former stuntwoman in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, Sarah understands the importance of nutrition and caring for your body to achieve results.




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