If gym workouts are a part of your routine, you know the importance of turning up with all of the essential gear — especially if you usually hit the gym before or after work or a social engagement.
An organized gym bag stocked with the basics can add ease to your routine, allowing you to focus on your workout and maximizing your time when you’re there.
Read on for recommended gym bag essentials for standard workouts as well as powerlifting, swimming, and boxing routines.
These are the basic (and maybe obvious) items to keep in your gym bag. Thank us later when you’re packing and almost forget your headphones.
For starters, equip yourself with a lightweight bag in a breathable, water-resistant fabric that’s easy to wash and dry. The ideal size will comfortably carry all of your supplies without taking up too much room. To maximize space, choose a bag that has zippered exterior and interior compartments for easy organization.
Get organized with travel pouches, packing cubes, and waterproof toiletry bags. Have a small bag available if you plan to carry your phone or personal items at the gym.
Use a laundry bag to separate and store used towels and clothes. This protects your bag and its contents from odor, bacteria, and moisture.
Pack a pair of suitable athletic sneakers. If your routine varies, be sure to have the appropriate gym shoes for the activity you plan to do. Use a foot powder in your shoes and socks to reduce moisture and prevent bacterial and fungal growth.
For showering or walking to the pool or sauna, pack a pair of Crocs, flip-flops, or slides, which you can also wear post-workout.
Pack your sneakers and shower shoes in a shoe bag. Once you’re home, take them out to make sure they dry completely.
Include a set of clean workout clothes, including socks and undergarments. To save space and prevent wrinkles, roll the items. Remember to pack extras if you want to change into something fresh after your workout.
If you plan to shower, a fast-drying microfiber towel is your best bet. Use a small cotton towel to absorb sweat during your workout. If needed, carry a small towel to wipe down equipment.
To stay hydrated, choose a reusable water bottle with a wide lid that’s easy to clean. Insulated bottles are the best option if you want to make hot or cold drinks.
Carry a few healthy snacks, such as nuts, protein bars, and dried fruit. You can also throw in packets of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), electrolytes, and protein powder to make quick on-the-go beverages.
To listen to music or a podcast, pack your device, a spare charger, and earbuds or headphones.
Carry band-aids, cotton pads, and athletic tape in case you have a minor injury. Include hand sanitizer and a pain relief cream to soothe achy muscles. Antibacterial wipes are perfect for cleaning the inside and outside of your bag.
After your workout, you may want to shower and freshen up, especially if you aren’t going straight home. Rather than trying to remember to pack all of your favorite products on the reg, buy seconds or travel sizes of each and keep them in your bag, at the ready.
Keep small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel in a waterproof pouch. You can also include bar soap and face wash. Toss in a razor and shaving cream for days if you need a shave.
Carry an antiperspirant deodorant and antiperspirant wipes. To smell good, mix up a natural body spray using essential oils or make a decant of your favorite perfume or cologne.
Sprinkle baby powder on your skin to absorb excess moisture and cool your skin. You could also use it in your hair to soak up sweat. You’ll also need a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
If you menstruate, it’s always good to keep a stash of menstrual products such as tampons, pads, or menstrual cups.
Carry a small pouch of hair accessories such as bobby pins, elastic bands, and spiral hair ties. If you plan to wash your hair after your workout, you might want to apply a hair mask beforehand.
Workout headbands help to absorb sweat and keep it out of your hair and face. Wear a shower cap or spa headband if you want to keep your hair dry while you shower.
Use a small brush or comb to refresh your hair. A travel hairdryer is easy to fit into your bag. Even if you don’t shower, you can use it on your scalp, roots, and hairline to help wick away sweat. Dry your hair before adding any products.
For easy hairstyles, arm yourself with a hydrating mist, styling balm, and dry shampoo. If your hair is prone to knotting, pack a detangler.
Use cleansing wipes or baby wipes to clean your face and body. Follow up with body lotion and sunscreen with broad-spectrum UV protection of at least SPF 30. A lip balm is essential during dry, cold weather or if your lips are prone to dryness.
Have a stash of cotton pads to apply micellar water and witch hazel to your face. Both products work as cleansers and toners. Moisturize your face with a serum, light moisturizer, and nourishing oil. Blotting papers are great for removing shine and absorbing excess oil.
If you wear makeup, keep the basics in your gym bag. This may include concealer, mascara, and brow gel. For a healthy glow, apply a multitasking cream blush to your cheeks, eyelids, and lips.
As long as you’re prepared and organized, you can easily go straight to work after a workout. Pack a work-appropriate outfit and remember to include shoes, undergarments, and accessories.
If you don’t eat before your workout, bring along a simple, easy-to-eat breakfast. Consider bringing foods that contain both carbs and protein for effective post-workout nutrition.
Remember to bring along your briefcase with any work-related items, including your tablet and laptop.
Powerlifters can pack chalk or liquid grip to reduce sweaty hands and improve grip. Weightlifting tape helps to improve grip, prevent blisters, and protect your thumbs. You can also wear padded gloves to reduce impact and support your wrists.
For stability and support, pack kinesiology tape, and wrist and knee wraps. Use a weightlifting belt to stabilize your core and spine. To maximize your performance and prevent injury, bring along a pair of weightlifting shoes
Swimmers may want to carry swimwear, a cap, and accessories such as goggles, earplugs, and nose clips. It might be a good idea to pack swimmer’s ear drops as well.
You may need an extra towel and waterproof or mesh bags, pouches, and cases to keep everything dry. Equipment such as a snorkel, fins, and paddles are optional.
Boxers can pack boxing gloves and hand wraps, which help to stabilize your wrists and prevent sprains. For protection, bring headgear, a mouth guard, and shin guards. You can also carry ankle braces and knee and elbow pads. Men will also need a groin protector.
Once you get your gym bag essentials down to a science, trips to the gym will feel like a breeze. Remember to clean out your bag and its contents regularly, using antibacterial wipes or a damp cloth and mild soap. If possible, machine wash it once a week. You don’t want to smell like a locker room.
To be even more organized, pack your bag after each use so it’s ready for your next trip to the gym. This will save you time and help you to feel prepared even if you’re on a tight schedule.