There’s nothing more frustrating than carefully planning to work in an hour at the gym only to open your workout bag and find you’re missing something essential. Here are some must-pack items your next trip to the gym.
Gear-up: Obvious, we know, but make sure you are packing the right clothes and gear for your workout: Does your workout call for shorts or yoga pants? Swimsuit and googles? Lifting gloves? Running shoes? If you change up your routine, be sure you’re packed for the day’s activities. If it won’t add too much bulk to your bag, consider putting clothes for the week into separate zippered storage bags, labeled by workout (yoga, spin, weights, cardio, etc.). Don’t forget to pack essential undergarments: socks, sports bra and underwear. If sweaty hair is a bother, be sure to throw in a hat, hair tie or headband. Put in a plastic grocery bag (or two) for your post-workout clothes so it’s easy to remove your dirty laundry later. (It keeps your gym bag fresher, too.)
Clean-up: If you’re showering after your workout, you’ll need shampoo, conditioner and body wash. To save space in your bag, buy travel sizes or look for soaps that are 2-in-1 (body wash plus shampoo). If your gym has towels on-hand, save space in your bag and don’t bother packing one. If you won’t have time to shower, pack dry shampoo and body/face towelettes. And, of course, deodorant! Even if you’re not showering, pack flip flops. You don’t want to be traipsing around a wet locker room in your good sneakers. Ladies, be sure to always keep a few pads and tampons in your supplies, too.
First aid: Don’t let minor cuts, blisters or aches and pains end your workout early. Keep a few bandages, moleskin, a small tube of antibiotic ointment and a travel-size bottle of pain reliever in an easy-to-grab pouch. Check medicines every few months for expiration dates.
Entertainment: Make sure you have your music (whether that’s on your phone or a separate MP3 player), earbuds and a charger.
Hydration and nutrition: Pack a reusable water bottle that fits your workout and your personal preferences. “Upgrade” with bottle that has a frozen core or fruit infuser or go for a shaker bottle—perfect for supplements and protein mixes. Include a couple of snack bars or nut mixes in case you need to eat immediately before or after your workout.
Security: Locker rooms are easy pickings for thieves, so buy a small, light combination lock and keep it in your bag.
With these essentials, you can make sure you have everything you need for your workout. Take a few minutes at the end of each week to clean out your bag, re-stock and re-organize and you’ll be fully supplied for your next several trips to the gym.