Top 10 Gym Bag Essentials: From Clothing to Tech Gears

It is important to prepare everything before a gym class and have everything at hand. Here are the 10 essential gym items that you will need.
April 02, 2022 | 14:59

For anyone who goes to the gym regularly, packing a gym bag is a fairly routine procedure. You might keep a gym bag pre-packed in your car or bedroom that you can just pick up and go.

Some gym-goers even have multiple bags at the ready for different types of workouts. An organized gym bag stocked with the basics can add ease to your routine, allowing you to focus on your workout and maximize your time when you’re there.

1. Workout clothing

Photo: Insider
Photo: Insider

When it comes to clothes to work out in, do you prioritize fashion or comfort? Many of us fall somewhere in the middle. We may splurge on a pair of compression leggings designed to wick sweat and aid recovery, but on top, we’re wearing an old, oversized cotton t-shirt. So, does it really matter what you wear in the gym?

There is nothing more aggravating than forgetting a critical piece of workout gear. A missing pair of socks can turn an otherwise productive workout into a recipe for blisters and chafing.

Depending on your workout, some essential items to pack may include:

  • Clean underwear and/or sports bra
  • Fresh pair of gym socks
  • Headgear (e.g., headband, hair tie or clip, or a cap)
  • Swimsuit, swim cap, and goggles
  • Workout top and bottoms (shorts, sweatpants, or leggings)

2. Gym bag

Photo: Glamour UK
Photo: Glamour UK

Before you take the time to pack a gym bag, consider whether the bag fits your needs. It doesn't make sense to lug around a bag that's too big or try to cram everything into a bag that is too small. The right-sized gym bag will carry all of the things you need and be mobile enough to carry on public transportation (like the bus or subway) if needed.

If you plan to shower at the gym, consider getting a bag with separate wet and dry compartments (including one for your cell phone or music player). The strap should be adjustable and rest comfortably on your shoulder without cutting in.

For starters, equip yourself with a lightweight bag in a breathable, water-resistant fabric that’s easy to wash and dry. The ideal size will comfortably carry all of your supplies without taking up too much room. To maximize space, choose a bag that has zippered exterior and interior compartments for easy organization.

3. Gym Shoes

Photo: Expert Reviews
Photo: Expert Reviews

Your gym shoes might seem like an obvious item, but it's important to keep in mind the specific type of shoe you will need for a particular workout. You don't want to show up for a spinning class to find you only have bulky running shoes.

There are great all-purpose athletic shoes to wear to the gym, but you'll benefit from pairing the right shoe to a specific activity. There are a variety of affordable shoes designed specifically for weightlifting, cross-training, indoor rock climbing, and indoor running.

Having different athletic shoes to rotate will also allow you plenty of time to dry each pair out completely between workouts, which will help you avoid unpleasant foot odors.

4. Gym Towel

Photo: Ubuy
Photo: Ubuy

Gym towels are so important because they:

  • > Help keep you cool as you work out.
  • > Reduce the spreading of germs as you use the towel to wipe away sweat, rather than your hands, which may have come into contact with bacteria on gym equipment.
  • > Offer a layer of added protection between you and the equipment you are using.
  • > Help keep your face and arms feeling clean and dry.

Material: Today, you’ll find gym towels in a variety of materials. The two most common materials are cotton and microfibers. Cotton has the edge due to its absorbency and incredible durability. They also dry quickly and provide gentle natural touch when toweling down.

Size & Shape: You want a towel that easily drapes around the back of your neck across your shoulders. That’s why bath towels or hand towels won’t work. They are too thick and cumbersome in a gym environment. A gym towel needs to be relatively small and packable, to easily roll up and fit in a gym bag.

Absorbency: The very purpose of a gym towel is to absorb sweat. Something that is threadbare won’t work. Long-stapled cotton is known for its ability to help quickly wick away moisture. This is why Turkish towels are very popular options.

Softness: Everyone wants to soft towels. After all, you’ll likely be using your gym towel on the most sensitive skin on your body — your face. Premium cotton towels deliver the perfect mix of softness that won’t irritate your face and material longevity.

Drying: Whatever workout or gym towel you choose, look for a towel that will dry quickly. Choose something isn’t too thin and flimsy, but is still light enough to dry quickly. (For example, our fitness towels are 360 GSM, which is ideal.)

Durability: Look for a gym towel that has seams that are double stitched to avoid fraying and a cotton “banana weave” construction means added strength and durability.

5. Heart Rate Monitor

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Heart rate monitors work by measuring electrical signals from your heart. They are transmitted to a wristwatch or data center. Many models let you analyze data via a computer and having that data allows you to interpret your workout and better understand the benefits from your exercise.

You can get a rough estimate by monitoring your own pulse the old-fashioned way – feeling it in your wrist or your neck – but that can be disruptive to your actual workout. An electronic heart rate monitor can give you accurate, real-time data.

Using a heart rate monitor, you can figure out your current heart rate zone during exercise. First, you’ll need your maximum heart rate which you can get by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you’re 35, your max heart rate is 185. At this point, you can figure out what heart rate zone is best for burning fat.

At 50-60% of your maximum heart rate, you’re using 85% fat to burn calories. At 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, that drops to 65% fat being used. And at 70-80%, you’re only using 45% fat to burn calories.

6. Headphones

Photo: NYPost
Photo: NYPost

An essential for any gym experience is a good pair of headphones. Motivating music and quality headphones can totally make the difference between a good workout and a great workout. So, whether you’re a fan of tiny earbuds or love the larger, over-the-ear style headphones, be sure to throw your favorite pair into your bag before you head out of the door.

Pro tip: Throw a few hand towels into the dryer as well. If used damp, these tiny towels are perfect for steaming open your pores before a facemask or softening your cuticles before a mani/pedi.

7. Reusable water bottle

Photo: Vacuum flank
Photo: Vacuum flank

Staying hydrated is essential during workouts, so make sure to keep a bottle of water close by during your workout. We recommend using a reusable water bottle as they are better for the environment and keep your water colder for longer.

It’s not just a matter of picking the one that looks the nicest, either - surprisingly, there's a lot to consider when buying a water bottle for the gym. One of the most important factors is size. If you’re planning to work out for a good amount of time, like a long distance run, then you’ll need a higher capacity bottle (750ml and above) to accompany you on the treadmill and supply you with enough of nature's juice. On the other hand, if you just need something to sip on during a weights sesh, then a 500ml bottle should do the trick.

Ultimately, finding the perfect match comes down to your preferences. Are you looking for cooling tech to help keep your water cold? Does it need to be ergonomically designed for a better grip during your training sessions? Perhaps you want it to filter your water for you as you drink. Or are you simply looking for something stylish to feature in your #gymselfies.

8. Sneakers

Photo: Seventeen Magazine
Photo: Seventeen Magazine

There is nothing worse than getting to the gym and realizing that you forgot to pack your sneakers. Seriously, how are you supposed to get through a spin class with no shoes? Make that harsh reality a thing of the past by always packing your sneakers first when assembling your gym bag. Don’t forget your socks either! Many gyms try to charge you a pretty penny for things like socks and towels, so be sure to bring your own!

9. Tunes and Earbuds

Photo: News Experts
Photo: News Experts

Music helps some people "get into the zone" and pace their workout.1 If you don't enjoy the piped music at your gym, bring along your cell phone or music player. Don't forget your earbuds and make sure that your device has enough battery life to last for your workout.

You'll also want to make sure you have a way to securely carry your device and keep it dry while you exercise. The same applies to your earbuds. It often pays to buy a quality pair that is both wireless and sweat-resistant.

Look for music playing devices or accessories that are designed for sports, as they tend to be more robust.

10. Personal Care Items

Hygiene is important no matter your gym or chosen workout. Beyond freshening up after a heavy workout, you also want to avoid athlete's foot and other common locker room infections.

A shortlist of "must-have" personal care items includes:

  • Antifungal spray or ointment
  • Bath towel
  • Blowdryer
  • Body and face moisturizer
  • Comb or hairbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Extra underwear
  • Makeup and remover
  • Menstrual products (tampons, pads, menstrual cups)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Shower sandals or flip-flops
  • Soap or body wash
  • Spare contact lenses and solution
  • Washcloth or scrubber

It often helps to have a dedicated travel bag to accommodate all of your personal care items for the gym. You can buy travel-size portions of lotions and shampoos in most drugstores.

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