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Gym Bag Essentials

What to take with you to the gym, each and every time.

As you head out the door each morning, you’ve got your hands full. A purse or briefcase, lunch, keys, and a kid or two. If you’re planning to hit the gym before coming home, don’t forget your gym bag. And make sure it has everything you need for a good workout.

Not sure what to include in your gym bag? Here are a few things you may find helpful when you workout.

Workout Clothes

It’s not easy to work out in jeans or dress clothes, so be sure to pack workout clothes. Athletic shorts or leggings and a T-shirt will do just fine. Women may want to pack a sports bra. Remember, you want clothes that are comfortable and easy to move around in. Choose clothes that will keep you cool. Many athletic clothes these days are made with special fabrics that dry quickly and wick moisture away from your skin to keep you cool. Pick these when you can.

Athletic Shoes

Your shoes may be the single most important piece of athletic equipment. Leave these at home and you may wind up in a world of hurt. For the best support and improved performance, choose shoes specifically designed for your activity. In most cases, regular athletic shoes are fine. But if you’re serious about your sport, there are shoes for just about every type of sport out there. Go with shoes that are lightweight, supportive, and comfortable. And don’t forget your socks!


Prevent dehydration by drinking water before, during, and after your workout. Keep a water bottle nearby at all times. To help protect the environment, keep your water cooler, and save money, use an insulated reusable water bottle.


For best performance, fuel your body before and after exercise. Pack a high-carb snack to eat before you hit the gym and a carb- and protein-filled snack to eat when you’re done. A granola bar, peanut butter crackers, or a piece of fruit are a few ideas. Pick what you like or talk with your trainer for recommendations.


If you enjoy listening to music while you exercise, headphones are a must. Upbeat music can be motivational. It can also serve as a way to distract you from sore muscles, so you can go that extra mile. Create a workout playlist and rock and roll your way through your routine.

Key Fob

If your gym ID isn’t already on your keyring, leave it in your gym bag. While gym staff may be available to let you in during office hours, you’ll need your key fob to get in after hours. Not having it on-hand could make gym access complicated or even impossible.

Fitness Device

Tracking your steps, heart rate, distance traveled, or calorie burn is easy with a Smartwatch, pedometer, or heart rate monitor. Don’t wear it all day, every day? Keep it in your gym bag for when it matters most!

Sweat Towel

If you tend to get extra sweaty during exercise, do yourself and others a favor. Keep a small towel in your bag. That way, you can wipe your sweat off your brow and any machines you use.

Shower Supplies

If you plan to shower at the gym after your workout, you’ll need a few extra supplies. Place some shampoo, body wash, shower shoes, deodorant, and a fresh towel in your bag.


Depending on your needs and preferences, you may need some extra accessories. What extras might you want? Hair bands, sweatbands, exercise gloves, or your own yoga mat. Need or want something else? Be sure to pack it!