Workout Essentials: What to Pack for the Gym If you're always prepared, there's no good excuse to skip leg day
It seems like getting fit is at the top of everyone’s to-do list, and for good reason. Not only will you look better when you’re exercising regularly, you’ll see an improvement in how you feel and perform at everyday tasks — even if that involves sitting being a computer screen for most of the day.
If you’re not properly prepared for the gym, you’ll skip days. If you’re skipping days, you will inevitably break the habit. Pretty soon a month will have flown by and you’ll find yourself wondering why you’re still paying for a gym membership you never use.
Looking for help keeping your workout resolutions? Start by packing your gym bag the right way.
The construction of your gym bag can be just as important as its contents. So ditch the drawstring and invest in something a bit more grown-up. A good bag should be durable, easy to clean, and have enough space to hold all the necessities. Especially if you’re bringing your gym bag to work, you’ll want to choose something that is sleek and inconspicuous.
Your bag of choice doesn’t have to be made specifically for the gym. Our personal favorite comes from Tortuga Backpacks — it’s designed for travel but it works incredibly well as a workout bag. It opens up like a suitcase so you can easily get to what you need. There’s no point in having a fully-stocked bag if you can’t ever find what you’re looking for.
Don’t prep for just one workout when packing your gym bag. Ideally, you should be prepared for a week’s worth of workouts at all times. That’s why we suggest having multiples of items like t-shirts, socks, and underwear — make sure to stock up after laundry day so you always have everything you need.
Most gyms have a dress code, so don’t be that guy trying to work out in board shorts or jeans shorts. Be sure you have a simple pair of running, cross-training, or basketball shorts packed for your workout at all times. Ideally, they should be lightweight, breathable and fast drying.
T-Shirts (3-5 pieces)
Any simple cotton t-shirt will do just fine as long as it fits comfortably. But other than socks, shirts tend to get dirty the fastest, so make sure to pack enough. Wearing clean, stink-free clothing is not just for your personal comfort but the innocent noses of those around you.
Underwear (3-5 pair)
This one is not up for debate. Please do yourself a favor and have plenty of fresh underwear on hand. This is a must if you’re working out midday and heading back to the office instead of straight home. We recommend fitted boxer briefs or trunks, especially if you’re doing a lot of cardio.
Socks (3-5 Pair)
Socks really shouldn’t be worn more than once, so having a few extra on hand should go without saying. They don’t take up much space in your bag, so why not stock up? We recommend cushioned black or gray athletic socks that really hug your feet. Ill-fitting socks lead to blisters if you spend a lot of time on the treadmill.
Most gyms won’t let you out on the floor without proper footwear — so if you forget to pack the right shoes, you’ll likely have to skip a workout. Chuck Taylors may have been considered athletic shoes in the 70s but today, they aren’t going to cut it. A decent pair of running or cross-training shoes should last you for at least a year, so make the investment in something durable, and supportive.
These may not seem like essentials, but they will make your workout a hell of a lot more enjoyable. These four should have a permanent place in your gym bag.
A small towel is great for you when you need to wipe the sweat from your eyes or dry your hands before hitting the weights. It can also be used to wipe down equipment after you’re finished using it. Using one is common courtesy among gym-goers.
Whether you like to listen to music, watch videos or listen to podcasts, having something to listen will motivate you to stay at the gym for that hour.
Without headphones, your workout can feel like it’s dragging on so make sure to toss a pair in your bag.
You lose quite a bit of water while working out and it’s important to stay hydrated both during your workout and while recovering. That makes bringing a water bottle a no-brainer.
It’s hard to get a good workout in when you’re running low on fuel. If you need a quick pick-me-up before hitting the squat racks, make sure to keep some healthy snacks in your bag.
If you know you need to rush somewhere after the gym and won’t have a chance to eat, protein bars will help replenish your energy levels and maximize those #gains.
Locker Room Essentials
Whether you fit your workout in before you start your day, during your lunch hour, or after the sun goes down, most workouts will require a shower after. If you aren’t able to head straight home after you sweat it out, make sure these items are in your bag.
A fully-stocked gym bag will likely be too large for the complimentary smaller lockers found in most gyms. Make sure to bring a lock so you can stash your bag in the bigger lockers. It will fit your personal items better and you won’t have to worry about how secure your stuff is.
This is crucial if you want to take a shower or if you’re a swimmer. Unless you want to be standing under the hand dryer to dry yourself off, it’s definitely handy to have a large towel on hand.
No, not for when you’re on the treadmill. This is necessary if you want to use other amenities such as the shower or pool. It’s the worst trying to put on your gym shoes after you’ve cleaned off all the gym sweat.
In addition to keeping your feet clean, wearing flip-flops will prevent you from getting athlete’s foot or foot fungus.
A gym Dopp kit in your larger gym bag will keep all your shower essentials together. If you keep your gym bag in the car, make sure none of your toiletries are prone to melting, oozing or exploding on a hot day.
We suggest including spray deodorant (to prevent a melted mess), travel-size lotion and shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste and any hair product you may need after showering.
Look for the travel size version of your favorite brands to save space.
We emphasized the importance of having fresh clothes on hand, but what about the ones that you’re done with? Simple solution: a bag for all your dirty laundry. Don’t contaminate your clean clothes.
This bag can be easily taken to and from your car without ever having to remove your gym bag. No more excuses, particularly, “I forgot my gym bag at home”.
Keep on Grinding
Once you get into a routine, going to the gym will feel like a natural part of the day. But you have to work at making it a habit for the first few weeks. Having a well-packed gym bag will definitely make that goal a little bit more attainable.
Did we forget any of your gym essentials? Any other tips to solidify your gym routine? Let us know in the comments
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