How to Go to the Gym Without Headphones (What to do if you forgot them & why it might be a good thing)

Man taking off headphones at the gym

It’s happened to me.

And it is the absolute worst.

You walk into the gym, ready to crush your workout and maybe hit some new PRs.

And you realize you forgot your headphones.

It’s bound to happen to all of us eventually, so let’s talk about it.

What can you do if you forgot your headphones for the gym? How can you exercise without them, and are there actually some benefits to working out without headphones?

While listening to music during your workout has some proven benefits, silence can be good too. If you forgot your headphones, take this opportunity to get more in tune with your form, breath, and body.

If you’re desperate, you might be able to get loaner headphones from the gym front desk.

Now let’s take a closer look.

Benefits of working out with no music

Alright let’s start off by looking on the bright side.

First off, don’t panic if you left your headphones at home.

Yes, listening to the right music can have a positive effect on your workout. But it’s not the end of the world if you need to work out in silence — whatever you do, you definitely shouldn’t cancel your workout.

(Yes, people really do this.)

Here are some interesting advantages to working out without headphones.

More meditative

Music has a way of drowning out your thoughts and inner monologue.

This can be a good thing a lot of the time, and it’s a good way to zero in on the task at hand (lifting, running, etc.)

But many of us spend too much time distracting ourselves and avoiding time left alone with our thoughts.

There’s a reason that more and more people are picking up on meditation — the mental and physical benefits are out of this world, including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved attention span
  • Fights memory loss
  • Better sleep
  • And more

Confronting your thoughts and emotions rather than surpressing them with music, TV and flicking through our phones is healthy.

When working out without headphones, you’ll find your mind drifts. You think about what you need to do that day or the next. You flip through your memories. You workout out problems in your head.

It sounds scary but these are good things, in the proper dosage of course!

More in touch with surroundings

I see a lot of people running errands and doing things in their daily life while wearing headphones.

It’s particularly prevalent at the grocery store.

I’ve never been a fan. I just prefer not to have my senses totally closed off to the world around me.

Without your headphones, you might actually find it refreshing to hear what’s happening in the gym around you.

(This is also safer, and will help you not bump into other people or equipment.)

Not to mention, it’ll be easier for you to strike up friendly conversations with fellow gym-goers if you so choose.

Unfortunately, you might have to deal with hearing people grunt occasionally!

More in tune with breath and body control

With loud music blaring in your ears, it can be tough to focus on the small details of your workout.

Sure, nothing beats a good PR song for getting hyped up.

But the silence of a no-headphones workout gives you a chance to form better mind-muscle connections, be intentional about your breathing, and concentrate on form cues while you work out.

Effective exercise isn’t just about all-out intensity.

You can get way better results by mastering the subtleties of whatever exercise you choose to do, and sometimes it’s easier to do that without music or headphones.

Better focus and efficiency

Ever find yourself wasting time screwing around with the music on your phone?

Skip a track here, repeat a track here, switch to a new playlist, wait until that annoying Spotify ad is over before you start your lift.

Without headphones, you’ll be less distracted by what’s going on with your phone. You’ll do less waiting around and tinkering to time your PR song perfectly with your lift, and you’ll be more focused on the task at hand.

Again, having the right music in your ears is great. But it’s not the end of the world, and there are some cool upsides, if you have to go without.

Alternatives & ideas if you forgot your headphones before going to the gym

A pair of Apple gym headphones

If you left your headphones behind and you’re really desperate, you might have a few options.

Your best bet will be to ask the front desk for a loaner pair.

Some gyms have headphones you can buy or borrow (kind of like the ones flight attendants hand out on an airplane).

If you’re tight with the staff and a little charming, you might be able to convince them to let you use a pair from the lost and found if you bring them right back.

(Just make sure to wipe them down before and after for hygiene reasons.)

If that doesn’t work, ask around in the locker room. It really helps if you’ve made a few friends at the gym or at least recognize some friendly faces.

It’s a bit of a long shot, but lots of people have spare headphones in their gym bags (and you should probably think about getting a cheap backup pair yourself).

Finally, whatever you do, DO NOT play music or videos on your phone without headphones.

It’s a huge etiquette no-no and annoys the crap out of everyone around you.

Just go without for one workout — as illustrated above, there are a lot of great benefits!

Wrapping Up

We’ve all been there, or will be at some point.

And we’ve all seen the ‘forgot headphones for the gym’ memes.

But it’s really not so bad.

Working out without music might not be your favorite, and it may make it hard to get amped up for heavy lifts or long endurance work, but there’s a definite silver lining to the whole thing.

You’ll be a lot more in touch with your own mind, thoughts, and emotions (trust me, it’s a good thing every now and then), not to mention better able to focus on your body, breath, and form.

What’s your favorite trick or hack when you accidentally leave your headphones at home?

And before you go, check out some of my other gym guides like:

Hope this helps!