Hey CF readers! This next series is going to be all about what you should always keep in your gym bag to ensure an excuse-proof workout, every day. I work as a personal trainer, so this is a subject that’s close to my heart.
Some gym-goers may tell you that you need all kinds of items in your gym bag, to the point that it seams like you’re packing an overnight bag for each gym trip.
I take a more minimalistic approach. The way I see it, you’re there to work out just like everyone else. When you leave the gym – it is pretty obvious that you’ve just worked out. I think there is some lee-way for your appearance as you go out in public until you get home.
I don’t think you have to apologize for your post-gym look, nor do I think it is something that is socially unacceptable. Just don’t go around hugging people while still wearing your sweat-drenched gym clothes, okay?
Feel free to carry along a change of clothes, a towel, and shower products if you need to shower at the gym before leaving! But, as I said, my approach is more bare-bones. So keep reading for the bottom-line essentials.
Some of these items in your gym bag will be staples that are easy to just leave in your gym bag at all times, and others you will need to replace daily.
For these daily items, I recommend making it a habit to check your gym bag nightly to ensure everything is good-to-go for the morning! Remember, a new habit can take only 21 days to create!
I’ll be listing these essentials below, and each week I will be going into depth on each one, giving you a look at different options and alternatives for these items so you can find what fits your lifestyle best.
Here are the 10 things I always have in my workout bag:
1. The Gym Bag Itself
Okay, let’s start with the actual gym bag itself! The gym bag you use needs to be a thoughtful choice because you are the one who is going to have to be carrying it around!
You need to make sure you have a bag that fits what you need for the gym and is convenient for daily use.
For example, I know that I have a minimal-approach to what I bring to the gym. Therefore, I don’t need a huge duffel bag that is going to be mostly empty anyway, and slouchy with all my things falling around in it. It’s clunky and unnecessary.
Alternatively, I know that my handbag is not big enough to carry all my daily things, plus everything I need for the gym. So instead of over-packing my shoulder bag everyday, I need something more efficient to use.
Think about what you need in a gym bag. What types of pockets and compartments do you want? Where will you need the bag to fit (car, bus, locker, work, etc.)? What kind of bag fits best into your day? You don’t need any frustrations when it comes to getting your workout started.
After you’ve considered your needs, then look for a specific bag that will check all your boxes! Trust me, having the right bag makes all the difference.
For in-depth help on selecting a gym bag, see our guide to cute gym bags approved by a personal trainer.
Headphones make the top of my list because if you’re like most people, having a great playlist of music is fuel to your workout.
Whether you’re doing cardio, lifting weights, or doing yoga, music is essential for getting focused and staying in the right headspace.
Headphones are easy to leave in your bag. Just don’t forget to put them right back after your workout so you don’t forget them the next day!
Want more on this? See my gym headphones guide for the best types of headphones for your workouts, plus my personal recommendations.
There’s nothing worse than getting to the gym and realizing you forgot your sports bra and/or suitable workout panties. Therefore, this is (hopefully obviously) something you need to re-pack nightly.
A great sports bra is key because without one, you’re just NOT going to want to run. You’re not going to want to lift weights and sweat in your nice, daily bra, either. So please remember your sports bra!
Workout panties are a game-changer, as well. I can get very self-conscious if I know that everyone can see my panty-line; and honestly, it’s distracting to me more than anything else. I have a hard time focusing on my workout if I’m also concerned about who’s noticing my panty line. If you’re one of those bold people who couldn’t care less – GREAT! I’m just not one of those people, unfortunately.
Also, be aware of the color of your panties and the transparency of your pants. If your pants are see-through when they stretch, you may be exposing more than you’d like to the world!
4. Blender Bottle (+ Travel Funnel)
Okay, sure, water is essential. But I love using a blender bottle because I can use it in multiple ways throughout my workout.
I can mix my pre-workout or amino acids into the water in my blender bottle easy on my way to the gym. Once there, I can re-fill the bottle with water. At the end of my workout, I can re-fill with water again, and mix my protein powder in.
It’s so much more useful than just a regular water bottle, for me!
At the end of the night, you can wash and replace in your bag with fresh water and/or pre-workout for the next day.
Part 2 – Travel Funnel:
Okay, so my part 2 to the blender bottle is a travel powder funnel. Sure, you could just keep your pre-workout, aminos, or protein in plastic bags. However, I find that a powder funnel makes it much easier to use and more spill-proof.
I also don’t have to worry about the plastic bags opening or bursting in my gym bag. It’s also washable and therefore, re-usable.
Once again, wash and re-fill in the evenings!
Ladies … we. need. protein. In my opinion, most women are not consuming enough protein. Sure we aren’t all trying to make intense muscle gains. But even for a non-active female, protein intake should be at least 46 grams per day, which is still pretty low.
Protein is necessary for your body to function well and be healthy. So, in a way, protein is life.
Whether it be a protein bar or protein powder for a shake, you should be consuming at least 20 grams of protein after your workout. After a workout is when your body needs protein the most and absorbs it most efficiently and effectively. Don’t let your hard work go to waste!
Okay, I know, we are halfway through the list and I am just now listing a hygienic item.
The way I see it, you’ve probably already started out your day with deodorant. But, if you don’t work out in the mornings, maybe your deodorant is wearing off a little by the time you work out.
So, I just keep a little travel-sized deodorant in my bag. This way, it doesn’t take up a lot of space, but I have it when I need it.
7. Face Wipes
One of the worst things about the gym is the breeding ground of bacteria. Gross. But, what can you do? You have to touch the equipment. Even if you wipe down the equipment before use, you will always get “gym-hands.”
That being said, some of us may touch our faces more than we realize. Therefore, you should remember to wash your hands and clean your face at the end of the workout so that your pores don’t get clogged.
If I’m not careful, I literally notice an increase in face-acne when I go to the gym and touch my face.
8. Hair Tool Bag
Whether you have short or long hair, having the right tools to keep your hair up and out of the way will help you focus on what you’re doing, and not busy brushing your hair out of the way or off your sweaty neck!
I know, it’s really unfair that most guys don’t have this problem. They’ll never understand.
You can use hair ties, bobby pins, a hair clip, a hat, or mix of the above! Either way, you should have a designated small bag will all the hair tools you need to manage it! Don’t forget the brush, if needed.
9. Supplemental Equipment
This one is debatable, but I think it can’t hurt! You got two options that come to mind here: a jumprope and resistant bands.
There are two reasons why I list this here.
One, supplemental equipment can help you keep moving in between your sets with lower intensity exercises. Two, they can provide a great warm-up for you.
Neither one of these tools take up much space, either.
You can jump rope to warm up, or you can jump rope in between sets to keep your heart rate high while performing weight lifting. Jumping rope is also a really great calf workout!
Resistance bands are another great way to warm up your muscles and can help with accessory work, in the gym. A great example is glute-work. I love using resistance bands to really target my glutes in the gym. (Here are some great glute exercises using resistance bands.)
Okay, not an item but… this is the most important part! Working out is 90% mental. That being said, the exercise-to-mental health relation is a cycle.
Exercise contributes to your mental health, and you have to get in the right mental space to get a good workout in.
For some of us, it feels like a continuous push through the resistance, and for others it is naturally enjoyable.
But for those who have a hard time sticking to it, it’s key that you find what your motivation is.
Find the right self-talk that is going to motivate you to get in the gym and challenge yourself. Find the why of what you are wanting to achieve and make it a priority.
You will have to do this every day. Some days will be harder than others, but it really is all about your attitude!
So, What’s in Your Gym Bag?
What can’t you go to the gym without? What are your life-hacks for making your commitment to the gym easy? Let me know in the comments below!