Gym Bag Essentials For Any Workout

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January 12, 2018

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While it would be great to workout whenever you wanted, for many of us, the reality is trying to fit a visit to the gym around work, school, a social life and various other commitments. What that means if we’re usually hitting the gym on our way to, or from, something else. That’s why the art of packing your gym bag is so important. One key tip is to pack your gym bag the night before your next workout. Packing your gym bag at night means you’re prepared first thing in the morning, and you’re probably less likely to forget something important. Grab your pre-laid out gym gear, then pack your headphones and a clean gym towel in the bag too. And don’t forget your gym pass! If you’re still figuring out how to work out in the morning, having your gym bag packed the night before puts you a step ahead! 

What to pack in your gym bag

Preparation is the key to getting a good workout, and that includes getting your gym bag essentials together before it's even time to head to your workout. Take a tip from us: this is how to pack your gym bag! Now, not everyone will need to pack all these items in their gym bag, but this list is a great starting point to make sure you don't overlook anything you really need.

Your whole workout outfit

Have you ever made it all the way to the gym, only to realise you forget socks? Or even worse, forgot your tights? Missing some of your workout clothes can easily derail a whole workout before it begins. To avoid this happening, lay out each item for your outfit and mentally tick it off. You might even want to grab an extra pair of socks, just in case.

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Gym shoes

Shoes can be a surprisingly easy item to forget to pack, but the main thing to watch out for is not bringing the right style of shoes for the workout you have planned. The shoes you choose may be very different for a session on the elliptical trainer, or for lifting or for a HIIT workout with plenty of jumping plyometric exercises.


A towel is such an essential item for a workout that many gyms won't even let you train if you haven't brought a towel. If you're going to be using any gym equipment, the best advice is to bring two towels: one for your sweat and one for wiping down the gym equipment. While it's the proper gym etiquette to wipe down the machines when you've finished using them, you definitely don't want to be using the same towel for your face!

Hand sanitizer

While hygiene is still right in the forefront of your mind, make sure you have enough hand sanitizer in your gym bag to keep your hands clean when you're not actively using the weights, machines and cardio equipment. This is essential to use after your workout, and can be a good idea to use throughout your session. You’ve been gripping sweaty, dirty, handles for most of your session. Although most people are usually considerate enough to wipe down their machines after they finish using them, germs are easily spread (even if there are antibacterial wipes available!) if they aren't killed with disinfectant.

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Water bottle

Hydration is one of the most important aspects to any trip to the gym and unless you want to spend half your workout sharing the water fountain with other people at the gym, you should remember to pack your own water bottle. Staying hydrated throughout your workout will help you get the most out of exercise, help with recovery and help you feel your best post-workout.

Hear rate monitor or fitness tracker

Depending on your fitness goals, you might want to use a fitness tracker or similar device to monitor your heart rate, calories burned or data points like distance, time and speed. For workouts like low intensity cardio or HIIT, reaching a specific heart rate zone will help you get more out of the workout. Even if you aren't trainng with specific goals, tracking your performance can help motivate you to push yourself just a little bit harder.

Spare hair bands

It doesn’t matter how many are in your bag, you can bet you’ll struggle to find a hair band when you need it! There’s nothing worse than getting ready to workout and realising you don’t have a band (or a hat) to keep your hair off your face, especially if you’re about to do a circuit with burpees! Pack double what you think you’ll need and you should be okay.

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Good music can make all the difference between a great workout and an average one, and if you're relying on your gym to bring the beats, you might find yourself wishing you had your own. Making sure your heaphones are packed is the best way to have everything you need to get pumped up and in the zone to work out. Even more crucially, if your headphones are wireless doublecheck that they're fully charged when you're packing your gym bag. Nothing ruins a great workout faster than your music suddenly stopping mid-set.

A lock

This one really depends on your gym, but if you need to bring your own lock to keep your bag and valuables secured in a locker, it's one item you definitely don't want to forget. Noone wants to spend their gym session worrying if their bag is going to be stolen, and in most gyms you can't bring your bag onto the floor with you.

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Post-workout snack

Take a post-workout snack with you for when you finish your session. Whether you pack a couple of bliss balls, a protein bar, protein shake or a fresh piece of fruit, there's no time for a healthy snack like at the end of a good workout.


If you have to rush off to work after your gym session, then you’ll want to feel refreshed! Put together a little toiletry pack you can keep in your gym bag, with things like shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste and hair products (plus anything else you might need). Travel-sized toiletries are perfect for this, because they won’t take up a lot of space and you can refill them at home as needed.

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A mini emergency kit

You never know when you might suddenly get a blister, so an emergency kit with some Band-Aids can really save the day! Plus you might want to include things like disinfecting wipes, a safety pin, tampons and a padlock and key (if your gym doesn’t provide them). You might also want to have a plastic bag to stash your shoes or any damp clothes.

Keep your gym bad to the essentials

While there might be a whole stack of items you want to keep in your gym bag, it’s best to keep it as efficient as possible. Do a regular clean-out to keep the bag light, and to make sure there are any loose sweaty socks floating around!

Having a gym bag packed and ready to go can help ensure you make it to your workout. Now the tough part is keeping your bag tidy!

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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