Now that we are coming out of pandemic lockdown, people are starting to return to the gym. Keeping a gym bag packed and ready with oft-used fitness accessories makes it easy to get in a quick workout. Clean clothes, snacks and hydration, and personal hygiene products are vital tools when you’re running to the gym on the quick to squirrel in a workout.
Here are ten things that should always be in your gym bag before you head out the door.
1. Athletic Shoes
In a pinch, you can get away with a few laps around the track in your everyday clothes, but most gyms will not even let you on the floor without appropriate footwear. There are usually several reasons for this policy. For starters, it is a matter of safety; gyms do not want the increased liability that comes with members working out in flip-flops. Inappropriate shoes can also damage gym floors, leading to costly repairs. Dirty soles can ruin an expensive gym mat, let’s not forget about ice, snow, and salt in the winter.
2. A Water Bottle
This probably doesn’t need too much explanation. Your body needs extra water when you exercise (and sweat) and keeping a reusable water bottle in your gym bag makes it easy to accommodate that.
Make yourself a toiletry kit so you can get cleaned up after a tough sweat session. Shampoo, body wash, hairbrushes, and deodorant are absolute musts. Adding a few extras like vanilla lip balm and styling products is a nice touch.
4. Clean Clothes
Running to the gym from work or school is convenient (and probably part of the reason you keep a gym bag ready to go), but it can be a pain to always remember to grab a change of clothes. That’s why you should always have exercise clothes stashed into your gym bag.
While not typically considered ‘fitness accessories‘, clothing like comfortable shorts, a t-shirt, and clean underclothes are usually a safe bet to be prepared for both the workout and the post-workout. You’ll have appropriate clothes for your workout, plus you won’t have to face the idea of climbing into your car with sweaty workout clothes on once you’re through.
5. Shower Shoes
While flip-flops may not be appropriate in the gym, they are an absolute must in the locker room. Just like in college dorms, gym showers can harbor unknown microbes. Save yourself a lot of trouble — and the irritation of athlete’s foot — by wearing waterproof shoes when showering or walking around the locker room.
Working out on an empty stomach is no fun, not to mention that it can be dangerous for your health and recovery. That’s why it is a good idea to keep some protein-packed snacks in your gym bag. A handful of nuts and some fruit can give you the energy you need to crush your workout while also supporting your nutrition goals. Keeping a small stash of your favorite protein bars is always a good idea for both pre and post-workout.
Unless you really want to hear everyone’s conversations or — worse — talk to the person on the treadmill next to you for an hour, stash a pair of earbuds in your bag. This way you can turn on your favorite streaming app or listen to an audiobook or podcast while you work out uninterrupted.
8. A Lock
With all of this great stuff in your gym bag, you can make yourself an easy target for thieves. Use a secure lock to keep your personal items safe when they are stored in public lockers. Choosing one with a combination you can easily remember means you’ll always have access without worrying about where you left the keys.
9. Flushable Wipes
In an ideal world, you’d have time to take a shower and get properly cleaned up after a tough workout. In reality, however, you may have to settle for a quick rinse. Personal sport wipes are an excellent tool for situations where you need a quick refresh but don’t have time for a full shower. Look for products specifically designed to counter tough sweat so you actually feel fresh afterward.
10. Fitness Tracker
It is commonly accepted that tracking your activity and progress will help you reach goals faster and more consistently. A simple wearable tracker can count steps, distance, and heart rate while more advanced models may alert you to a full range of health metrics. In some cases, using an app on your phone may be a simpler option.
No matter how often you hit the gym, keeping fitness accessories like toiletries, shoes, workout clothes, and a lock can help ensure you are ready when you want to go. As well, keeping these items in your gym bag can help you be sure you are equally prepared for the post-gym clean-up process so you can get back to work, or a date, or whatever you have planned for the day, without smelling like a ferret.