Gym Bag Essentials For A Positive Workout Experience

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Many gyms these days have become veritable places of luxury. Suddenly, gyms no longer have that association of putrid smells emanating from questionably old equipment; instead, it is standard business for gyms to market themselves as “lifestyle centers” that allow their members a place to safely and comfortably come to relax, exercise, have a snack/full-fledged meal, or just hang-out.

Given this, if you’re a gym-goer, it might be tough to know what you should pack in your gym bag each day. Of course, different gyms will offer their participants different amenities, but generally speaking, here’s my quick list of essentials that any gym-goer should keep in his or her bag at any given time.

What’s in the bag? Here, I’ll show you:

1. A bag that’s appropriately-sized to carry all your needs

We can’t talk about what’s in our bag without first acknowledging the type of bag we have in the first place, right? The size of your bag will depend on how much stuff you’re schlepping around with you, so it might be beneficial to hold off on buying a bag before first getting an idea of how much stuff you’ll want to carry with you each day you go.

2. A “wet” bag or compartment for your soiled clothes

Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a bag that has a separate compartment where you can stow your post-workout soiled and sweaty workout clothes. If not, consider always keeping a plastic bag in your gym bag to keep your wet stuff from contaminating your dry stuff. Similarly, if you’ll be regularly swimming at the gym, be sure to pack a separate bag for your swimming accouterments so the chlorine doesn’t seep into your bag elsewhere.

3. Toiletries, like shampoo, conditioner, and soap

If you’ll be showering at the gym post-workout, particularly if you’re exercising before work during the week, you may find that bringing your own toiletries will make for an easier and more predictable morning than just relying on what the gym has on hand for its members. Of course, you may also want to bring other toiletries along with you, such as hair products, makeup, or a hairdryer, but if you’re just wanting to do a quick clean-up after your sweat sesh, some basics will do.

4. Baby wipes for freshening up

You may find that after your workout, you’re sweaty enough to feel unclean, but not sweaty enough to warrant taking a shower (or dedicating time to doing so). In these instances, it may make a lot of sense to clean yourself up quickly with baby wipes. Believe me when I say that Costco’s baby wipes are the best ones on the market! They’re large and rather indestructible, and when you purchase them, you’ll be buying them in boxes of 500+ wipes, so they’ll last for a long time. 

5. Your workout clothes or your work clothes

Depending on when you go to the gym, you may be able to go there wearing your workout clothes, or you may be coming in wearing your work clothes. Regardless, it’ll be helpful to be prepared, and packing your clothes in a separate space can help ensure that you’re ready to go. It may also be helpful to keep some extras on hand in your bag, like extra undergarments or an extra set of workout attire, in case you forget yours one day (and that will surely happen).

6. Your workout shoes or your work shoes

Similarly, you’ll want the right shoes, as well as the right shoes for post-gym. Nothing is more frustrating to a runner than showing up to the gym ready to run and then realizing that you only brought your work shoes with you.

7. A pair of shower shoes for the gym

Even though many gyms have come a long way regarding cleanliness, you will still want to avoid taking risks involving contracting fungus from locker room shower stalls. A cheap pair of flip-flops can be the difference between you contracting athlete’s foot or not, and if nothing else, it’ll do wonders for your piece of mind.

8. Whatever necessary piece of equipment you need for your workout

If you’re going to yoga and you like to use your own mat, bring it, and hopefully it’ll fit on or in your bag. Similarly, if you like to wear gloves when you lift weights or like to use your own towels to wipe off after you’re done working out, then pack them.

9. A journal

Finally, depending on your exercise, you may find it really beneficial to bring along a journal (or your phone) to help track your progress over the weeks and months, if not years, that you’ll be attending your gym.

Packing the essentials for a gym isn’t rocket science, but it’ll likely take some time, trial, and error before you master it. Give yourself some patience and flexibility to figure things out, and in time, no doubt you will streamline your process and spend virtually no time preparing each night for your next day’s gym time.


Dan Chabert is an entrepreneur and a husband. Dan hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves to join ultramarathon races and travel to popular running destinations together with his wife. During regular days, he manages his websites, Runnerclick, The Gear Hunt, Monica’s Health Magazine and GearWeAre. Dan has also been featured in several popular running blogs across the world.

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