Ever arrived at the gym, pumped up for a great session, only to discover you’ve forgotten your sports socks? Or how about your phone battery goes flat and you’re left without music because you didn’t pack a charger?
We’ve composed a list of gym bag essentials for you:
Our list of the fifty-five items to keep in mind when stacking your gym bag covers all of the gym bag essentials! Browse through and cross off the ones you already own, while jotting down the ones that spark your interest as a potential addition to your inventory.
Forgetting things in your gym bag can really mess up your training. We know, it happens to the best of us. But we’ve learned from our mistakes and have since created the ultimate gym bag list so you’ll be 100% prepared for any workout.
Seriously, you’d be hard pressed to find a more inclusive and comprehensive list than this. We’ve even broken it down into essential items for men and those must-have bits and pieces for the ladies, as well as gym things that everyone needs. So read on, get packing and you’ll never have to work out without socks again.
Ideas for Women
Ladies tend to like to look their best even after a heavy workout, and time-poor women may be fitting their sessions in between meetings or during their lunch break. It really pays to be organized and have everything you could possibly need already in your gym bag so you can be extra efficient in going from sweaty to sexy in no time.
If you’re doing it right, your workouts will leave you looking like a sweaty mess. If you’re planning on heading out after the gym, or you just need a touch up before being seen in public, bring spare make up like mascara, foundation, concealer and anything else that might start sliding off your face during exercise.
2. Makeup Remover
Did you forget to wear waterproof mascara to your sweat sesh? Chances are you’ll be channeling your inner panda with all that smudged eye make up so do yourself a favor and pack some make up remover to start over again.
3. Cotton Tips & Cotton Wipes
You’ll need something to help remove make up and these are super small and light.
Sweaty, fly-away hair is the worst. Leaving your hair in a mess on the drive home can lead to super tangled tresses so a quick brush before you go home is a great habit to get into.
5. Hair Ties
Who likes working out with hair in their face? No one, and least of all personal trainer Lisa Northup from Inergy Fitness Solutions, LLC. “Nothing’s more irritating than an intense workout with my hair down, so I bought a pack of hair ties and left it in my gym bag. Now if I forget one or mine breaks, I always have a spare,” she said.
6. Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo can be a life saver. It instantly spruces up greasy hair, gives volume to flat hair and erases the sweaty look so you’re ready for whatever comes next.
7. Pads & Tampons
These are absolute essentials for us ladies. Sometimes you get your period at the gym, and sometimes exercise can mean sanitary items move around or get sweaty so it pays to have spares.
If you’re opting for a shower at the gym a razor is great for a quick shave, especially if you’re squeezing in your workout between appointments.
9. Hair Dryer
Some gyms don’t provide hair dryers, so bring a small compact one along with you to use after a shower.
10. Nail File
Gyms are fraught with nail hazards, from lifting weights to boxing and even yoga. Save yourself from a hang nail by throwing a file into your gym bag.
It’s no secret that a solid training session can lead to a less than pleasant smell. Lucky us girls have access to perfume! Glass bottles aren’t always the best to throw in your gym bag so consider a solid perfume or small stick of roll-on perfume.
Ideas for Men
Men tend to sweat more, and thus create more body odor, than women. So it’s super important for the guys to bring a few items to keep them looking and smelling good!
Looking for a good gym bag? See: Review of the Best Men’s Gym Bags
No one wants to get a whiff of you after lifting weights! Cover up some of your man scent with a healthy dose of cologne.
13. Electric or Hand Razor and Shaving Cream
While this is useful for a quick shave, a razor can also come in handy if you need to apply strapping tape to an injury. Few things are as unpleasant as ripping off tape that has stuck to your long leg hair.
14. Hair Product
Exercise is not always conducive to sleek, styled hair so a bit of your favourite hair product is great for taming unruly hair or giving it back some shape.
Most gym items aren’t gender specific. Both men and women need to bring along some essential gear that they’ll use before, during and after a workout. We’ve broken down this part of the list into seven sections – Hydration & Nutrition, Technology, Hygiene, First Aid, Sports Gear, Shower Items and Other. Don’t get caught out wishing you had brought something extra – read through the list and you’ll always be super prepared.
Hydration & Nutrition
Perhaps the most important aspect of working out, aside from good form, is proper hydration and nutrition. With these gym bag essentials, you’ll be well prepared to drink up and chow down some snacks while doing so.
15. Water Bottle
This is arguably the most important thing you need to bring to the gym, and yet it can easily be forgotten. If you’re not on a budget, consider having a water bottle that is used exclusively for the gym instead of one that you also take to work and home. This way, your gym water bottle will always go right back to your gym bag and you won’t find yourself without it.
Related: Best Water Bottles for Fitness
16. Protein Shake Bottle
If you’re interested in protein shakes for post-workout recovery then it’s ideal to bring your protein shake to the gym and have it as soon after exercise as possible. A protein shake bottle can also be great to bring along some pre-workout fuel in your shake bottle.
Related: 10 Best Protein Shaker Bottles
Everybody needs snacks! They’re generally a good idea if you’re running low on energy or are starving after a gym session. Similar to a protein shake, you can get protein bars for pre-workout energy or post-workout muscle rebuilding. Or consider natural snacks like fresh fruit, nuts or trail mixes.
Technology doesn’t have to be a burden while working out. If used properly it can actually help immensely with your fitness goals! It has been proven that music can boost your mood and thus desire to work out, but that’s only the beginning of incorporating tech into your workout routine.
Fitness trackers can help increase your productivity like no other, by providing you real time data on your progress as well as notification and even suggestions. Let’s take a look at some must have technology to go along with your fitness goals.
We’re assuming your phone goes everywhere with you, so the gym should be no exception! You never know when you might need to take a call or gym selfie.
19. Music Player
If you don’t download music to your phone, you’re definitely going to need a music player to get you motivated for your workout.
To go with your music player, bring along some sports specific headphones. In-ear buds tend to work the best for exercise and they’re light and cheap enough to throw into your gym bag.
Related: Best Headphones for Working Out
Bring along your phone and music player’s charger. Modern phones burn through a lot of power so it’s not uncommon for them to be dead by the end of the day when a lot of people head to the gym. In addition, you might want to bring a charger or spare batteries if you have Bluetooth headphones.
22. Heart Rate Monitor
If you’re serious about your cardio, keep a heart rate monitor in your gym bag. You can use this to stay in your desired heart rate zone and get the fitness results you really want. Some of these can also give stats on calories burned, so if weight loss is your primary goal then it can help with that too.
Tip: Most activity trackers will track your heart rate as well! See: Best Activity Trackers
Ever workout and decided not to shower afterwards? Yuck! You probably realized, or perhaps others did before you, that it was not such a great idea. The musky smell that lingers is sure to catch yours as well as the attention of others. By packing some of these items below in your gym bag you’ll launch a preemptive strike on the subsequent odor!
This is a must-have for everyone. Getting a whiff of body odour can ruin your day at the gym so be kind to your fellow gym-goers and top up the deodorant before and/or after your workout.
24. Gym Towel
Most gyms make it compulsory to bring your own gym towel to wipe down equipment after use. They can also be essential for laying over mats during yoga, pilates or stretch sessions. Who knows what’s been on those mats?
25. Bag & Shoe Deodorizer
These little contraptions are an affordable way to cut down on gym bag and shoe odour by killing excess bacteria and adding a bit of fragrance. If you find your shoes getting mighty smelly, and your gym bag getting musty, consider throwing these in for a quick fix.
26. Plastic Bag
A plastic bag is such a light, easy thing to keep in your gym bag for sweaty gear, dirty clothes or wet swimming costumes. It will keep your soiled items away from your clean clothes and make sure sweat and odours don’t transfer into the fabric of your gym bag.
A small packet of tissues is always a good idea to throw in your gym bag. They’re handy for a sudden onset of the sniffles. Having a runny nose and no tissues is one of the worst sensations!
As with hygiene, another thing that is very important is first aid. Long nails, open wounds, sore muscles, headaches, the flu, and ever present germs can all deter you from a good workout. Not if you’re well prepared by throwing of these gym bag essentials along for the ride.
Stop that headache at it’s core by having meds in your bag and continuing on towards your workout instead of crashing on the couch in sorrow!
28. Nail Clippers
For both males and females, nail clippers are recommended to take care of chipped or broken nails, or even toe nails that are getting aggravated in your gym shoes.
Blisters are all too common in the gym. You might get them on your feet from new shoes, or on your hands from weight-lifting. Either way, they’re painful and can put an end to your workout so cover them up with a few bandaids.
Gyms are not always the most sanitary of places. If you have any cuts or open blisters it’s recommended to disinfect them at the gym to ward off the various bacteria and diseases that are hanging around.
31. Hand Sanitizer
To prevent the spread of disease you can use hand sanitizer before and after using communal equipment like weights, treadmills and foam rollers. This can be especially important during the cold and flu season when diseases can be transmitted simply by touching infected surfaces.
32. Athletic Tape
Athletic tape is an extremely versatile tool that can be great for taping muscular and soft tissue injuries, to lend support to injury-prone joints like wrists and ankles, to cover up cuts and scrapes or to tape up your hands before some serious weight lifting.
33. Wet Wipes
Disinfecting wet wipes are another way to reduce infections and the spread of diseases. Consider wiping down equipment or your hands before and after using gym gear.
Common medications for the gym are headache tablets, allergy medication and pain relief gels, but you may need other medications depending on your health. It’s always better to be safe than sorry so keep spare medications in your gym bags
When it comes to doing anything, working out included, to do it right you must have the right tools! So when it comes to going to the gym, being properly equipped with gym/sports attire including the right shoes and socks, is a must.
Some of these items are sport specific, but it won’t hurt to have them in your gym bag just in case you feel the need to take the stress out on a punching bag. Likewise going for a swim always sounds like a good idea, and very often is spontaneous as you’re walking by the pool, so it’s best to be prepared.
35. Sports Shoes
You definitely need comfortable, supportive sports shoes for the gym. Some people even pack two different pairs for separate activities, such as cardio classes and weight lifting.
We did the research for you! Here are the results:
36. Sports Socks
Long socks with sports shoes is never a good look. Sports-specific ankle socks are better at supporting your feet where you need it to reduce chafing, they have good elastic so they won’t fall down, are made out of sweat-wicking materials and can reduce odor build up.
37. Gym Clothes
Of course you’ll need to pack your active clothes if you’re heading to the gym from work or somewhere else, but spare gym clothes can be a life saver if you just so happen to tear your pants!
Related: Beginners Guide to Workout Clothing
A spare jacket is always welcome when you’re cooling down. You can really get chilly if you’re sweaty and damp, and gyms are often warmer than outside so keep one handy if you’ll be walking out into winter weather.
39. Yoga Mat
Who knows how many people have used the yoga mats at the gym? If you’re a big fan of floor work then it can be a great idea to invest in your own mat. With so many companies making these nowadays, choosing a good one has become a challenge.
Related: Best Yoga Mats on the Market
40. Boxing Gloves
Similarly, lots of sweaty people use the gym-provided boxing gloves. Gloves provide a damp, dark area that certain bacteria like to colonise so bringing your own boxing gloves is a necessity for those that love a good punching class.
41. Hand Wraps
If you’re into combat classes and working out on a bag then hand wraps are another must-have. They support your hands and wrists, reducing the chance of injury and mean that you can hit a lot harder.
42. Swimming Cap, Goggles & Swimming Costume
If your gym has a pool and you like doing laps, you’re going to need to bring along your own swimming costume, goggles and a swimming cap for hygiene reasons.
43. Jump Rope
Gyms usually have lots of jump ropes for clients to use, but this piece of equipment can be extremely personal. People who skip a lot know that they have a preferred length, material and weight. Instead of sorting through the jump ropes to find what suits you, it can be a lot easier to just bring your own.
Related: Calorie Burning Speed Ropes
44. Massage Ball
Massage balls can be as simple as tennis balls, lacrosse balls or even golf balls. These are brilliant for rolling on to get into sore spots after a workout. They work similarly to foam rollers to rub into muscles, tendons and fascia, but are much more targeted.
45. Chalk or Weight Lifting Gloves
Chalk improves your grip during weight lifting, but a lot of gyms don’t allow it. If that’s the case, then invest in weight lifting gloves to get some added grip.
Related: Best Gym Gloves
Some gym’s have these items, and if your gym is one of them consider yourself lucky. On the other hand, some of us much prefer our own personal items when it comes to showering; if you’re of the same opinion the below items are an absolute must have when visiting the gym.
Especially if you plan to shower there right after, which is often best, as the sweat tends to settle and stick on the drive or ride home.
Keep a separate shower towel to your sweat towel so you don’t cross-contaminate yourself. A light microfibre towel is ideal.
Shower footwear is super important because gyms are known to be hotspots for athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.
48. Body Wash, Shampoo & Conditioner
Take all the essential items that you usually use in the shower at home. Smaller travel-style containers can be handy so your gym bag doesn’t get too heavy.
Moisturiser is great for lathering on after a shower, or if you’ve got particularly dry skin.
50. Fresh Change of Clothes
Getting into clean clothes after a workout and shower feels so good! Don’t forget to bring fresh underwear and socks as these tend to get especially sweat-soaked.
Other Miscellaneous Items
Some of these are a no brainier and should already be a part of your gym bag, others you may want to take a look at, whether you’re trying to stay organized or keep your gym bag items safe.
We’re assuming your wallet goes with you everywhere, but people do sometimes forget it! It’s important to always carry ID and some money for buying food, drinks, gym equipment or any other little items your gym provides.
52. Bags & Separators
This is a long list because so much can go into your gym bag! If you’re finding that things are getting too cluttered and it’s hard to find anything, buy a few smaller bags to keep similar items together (such as first aid items, and all your shower gear) or use separators to organize your belongings.
Related: Best Gym Bags for Men
53. Membership Card
Nearly all gyms require the use of a membership card for entry, and some after-hours gyms can’t be accessed without them so make sure it’s in an easy to reach location in your gym bag.
Some gyms provide lockers but not keys or locks to keep your gear secure. You don’t know everyone who comes into your gym, so sadly you can’t always trust them! Bring your own lock if this is the case and you can workout without any stress.
55. Workout Log
Bringing a workout log is essential to track your progress and develop new routines and goals. You should definitely make a note of what weight you are up to, and your current reps, sets and rest times.
Keeping track of your workouts can really help to see how far you’ve come and if you’re improving at the rate you want.
Some or perhaps even a good number of these you may already have in your possession. But we hope this list is extensive enough for you to have found some new ideas and new additions to your gym bag from. You don’t have to get them all at once either, if you’re truly dedicated to getting fit, then you know it is a long journey, and piecing them together one by one is more than reasonable.
What to read next: 15 Things You Should Never Do At The Gym
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- Updated on March 28, 2019 by Ada Lane