person packing gym bag

12 Workout Essentials to Pack in Your Gym Bag

If you don’t have a home gym, you’re probably going to a gym. Whenever you go, you need to make sure you have everything you need for a successful workout. What you pack in your gym bag will vary from person to person, but the following items are on our list for the average gym-goer. 
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If you don’t have a home gym, you’re probably going to a gym. Whenever you go, you need to make sure you have everything you need for a successful workout. What you pack in your gym bag will vary from person to person, but the following items are on our list for the average gym-goer. 

12. Workout Clothes

Unless you’re allowed to wear workout clothes to work, you’re going to need to pack your activewear. Try to keep in mind that what time of day you’re working out may mean you’ll need different types of clothes. For example, you’ll need extra warm-up layers if it’s cold, or lighter fabrics (in both color and breathability) if it’s hot. If you’re traveling, check out the weather in your upcoming city at the time of day you’re planning on working out so you’re ready for anything! 

11. Gym Shoes

    What shoes you’ll need depends on what kind of workout you’re doing. If you’re weightlifting, going for a PR, or doing other functional training, minimalist shoes might be best. If you’re planning on running or taking a class that meets on harder surfaces, shoes with more padding may be better. Don’t forget to include any other footwear that you may need for specialty workouts like cycling shoes or no-slip socks for barre class. 

    10. Gym Towel

    You’ll need a smaller, lighter gym towel during your workout to keep the sweat off your face. You also may need a shower towel if you’re able to shower at the gym before you head out. Find a reusable or plastic bag to put these in when they go back in your bag afterward. That way, you can keep the wet stuff away from everything else in your bag. 

    Get into the habit of emptying these items from your bag into your hamper as soon as you get home. This will help your gym bag stay fresh and avoid any unwanted odors. 

    9. Bluetooth Headphones

    Whether you rock out to your favorite playlist, catch up on the latest podcast, or stream your favorite show during your workout, you’re going to need your headphones. Before they go in your bag, make sure they’re charged and ready to go. Discovering your headphones have no juice right as you start your workout is a serious mood killer. If you pack your bag the night before, setting your bag right next to your plugged-in headphones is a great way to remember both! 

    8. Workout Log

    If you’re old school and prefer to keep your workout log in written format, you’re gonna need to make sure it’s in your bag, along with a pen/pencil, note pad or clipboard. If you keep your workout log on your phone, make sure you’ve downloaded it to your device or app. This ensures you can still access your progress reports even if the gym doesn’t have Wi-Fi. 

    7. Water Bottle

    Gone are the days of drinking from a faucet or public drinking fountain, so make sure you pack a water bottle! If you’re working out first thing in the morning, go ahead and fill it up before you leave the house. Just do a spill check to test that the lid is on tight before it goes into your bag! If your gym bag is going to be sitting in your car all day, you may want to wait until you get to the gym to fill your water bottle up so it doesn’t get hot. 

    Reusable bottles save you money and help the environment, so if you need one, grab a TRX Water Bottle here

    6. Personal Care Items

    You’re going to need certain personal care items, especially if you’re showering and heading anywhere other than home after your workout. Depending on the size of your gym bag, it may make sense to have a smaller, separate bag to hold everything else. Here’s a list of some of the best personal care items to bring with you to the gym:

    • Medicines/Inhaler
    • Shower shoes (if needed)
    • Shower products - shampoo, conditioner, face & body wash, shave gel, razor, shower cap
    • Wash cloth & towel
    • After-shower products - moisturizer, skin care, aftershave, cotton swaps
    • Menstrual products
    • Eye products (contact lens solution, eye drops)
    • Dental products (toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash)
    • Deodorant
    • Make-up remover
    • Make-up
    • Make-up tools (brushes, sponges, etc.)
    • Hair products
    • Hair tools (comb, blow dryer, straightener, etc.)
    • Body scents (if needed)

    If you’re able to, it may also make sense to buy a duplicate set of all the items you use regularly. That way, they can just stay in your bag without you having to remember to pack and unpack them daily at home.

    5. Extra Change of Clothes

    Depending on where you have to go afterward, it’s a good idea to keep a change of clothes in your bag. Even if you’re heading straight home, nobody wants to sit in sweaty clothes during the ride. A change of underwear and some sweats may be enough to get you home. 

    If you’re headed out for work or a day of errands, you’ll need a lot more. It can be easy to forget crucial parts of your outfit–for example, going to work without socks–so double-check to make sure you have what you need.

    Don’t forget some of these clothing items with your extra change of clothes:

    • Undies & bra
    • Socks/hose
    • Slips/undershirts
    • Outfit top
    • Outfit bottom
    • Jacket, vest, or sweater
    • Outfit accessories (tie, cufflinks, scarf)
    • Belt
    • Jewelry & watch
    • Shoes

    Keep these items as a checklist on your phone so you never forget an important part of your gym bag ensemble!

    2. Gym Lock

      No gym likes a million bags or items laying on the floor of the workout area, and you don’t want anything misplaced or stolen. So, you’re going to need to store your gym bag when you get there. Most gyms have locker rooms with half or full-size lockers for you to store your gym bag, hang your work clothes, or simply put your keys. Depending on your gym, they may have combination locks on the lockers, or you may need to bring your padlock to keep things closed. 

      If it’s your first time to a new gym, check out the website or call ahead to figure out if you need to provide a lock. Some places sell them at the front desk, but you may need to shop for your own. Padlocks can run around $5 or $10 and you can grab one at most hardware stores. However, there are different sizes. If you need to purchase one, ask about the correct sizing. You always want to make sure your padlock fits and your items are secure so you can have a worry-free workout. 

      3. Activity-Specific Items

      Sometimes, an exercise requires specific items. For example, are you weightlifting today and need a weight belt? Put it in the bag. Are you recovering from an injury and need an ankle wrap or knee/elbow strap? Make sure you’ve got it. Heart rate monitors, rackets for the tennis courts, goggles, and swim cap for the pool–whatever you need for the day’s workout–it goes in the bag! 

      Depending on your workout schedule, your items may change day to day check your bag the night before to ensure all the items you need are there. 

      2. Hair ties and/or Sweat Bands

      You should try to keep your hair out of your face and sweat out of your eyes if you want to have a successful workout. That’s where hair ties and sweatbands come in. Hair ties can be bought in packs and sweatbands are not expensive at all. 

      If you don’t like sweatbands, then there are plenty of hats and visors that come with a sweatband lining. Your hair ties and sweatbands will need to be washed just as frequently as your workout clothes, so make sure to throw them in the same section as your dirty clothes after your workout!

      1. Post-Workout Snacks

        If there’s one thing that’s true, it’s that you’re going to be hungry after your workout. A good mix of carbs and protein will help you recover and replace the fuel you just lost during your session. You don’t want your energy to crash a couple of hours later, so having a few snacks on hand will help you make it to your next meal.

        Everybody is different when it comes to how they recover and every person has different ways of consuming protein and carbs. We recommend checking out our article, A Deeper Dive into Diet, to get a couple of ideas on what to pack. If you’ve just done a quick workout and are going to sit at your desk all day afterward, what you need may be different than somebody who’s headed off to do a lot more physical activity in the day.

        (Here’s another article on post-workout diets that we recommend: Katie Pearce Eats Before, During, and After Competition)

        Some people prefer quick and easy protein shakes (or bars) but if your stomach disagrees with those, sandwiches made with turkey or chicken on whole grain bread will be your best friend. Instant oatmeal and easily portable fruit and veggies (berries and baby carrots, edamame, baby bell peppers, etc) are great options too.

        Getting quality nutrients in is the most important thing so you feel good and energized for the rest of your day. 

        Bonus Gym Bag Essential: TRX Rip Trainer

        A bonus gym bag essential that we’ve been bringing with us is a TRX Rip Trainer. The TRX Rip Trainer, much like the Suspension Trainer is a tool that is able to deliver a full-body strength & cardio workout. Its lightweight nature and portability make it easy to fit inside any medium-to-large-sized bag. Unless you’re using weights or your ab exercise, the TRX Rip Trainer is one of the most efficient ways to mix up your core exercises.

        The Rip Trainer’s carabiner can attach to machines, bars, or posts in the gym, in door jambs in the home, or outdoors around light posts or benches. It can be set up in less than 60 seconds and, if you’re short on time, you can get a complete workout in under 30 minutes.

        However, the best part about the TRX Rip Trainer is its utility. We’ve already talked about how the item can be attached to machines at your gym. What we haven’t mentioned is that you can do your entire core workout standing up. There’s no need for a mat and you can easily transition from one exercise to another.

        To read more about the TRX Rip Trainer, read our article on what exactly rip training is and some exercises that you can try today

        What Should I Keep In My Gym Locker?

        We’ve listed twelve of the best workout essentials to keep in your gym bag. However, you don’t have to take everything home if your gym allows you to keep a locker permanently.  It may be a smart idea to keep personal care items and anything you have duplicates of at home. This could include shower products, deodorant, makeup remover, etc.

        You should also keep extra pairs of socks, underwear, or a change of clothes there in case you ever forget yours in the future. However,  anything that needs to be washed (workout clothes, towels, joint wraps) or charged (headphones) should to go home with you.

        At the end of the day, it’s important to bring what you think is most beneficial for you. You should maximize your performance at the gym so, using our suggestions above, bring what you think can help you get the best workout in