If you’re anything like anybody, then you’ve been hitting the gym more frequently in the new year. I know I have. One of my goals for the year is to work out 4 times a week, or Monday-Thursday. It probably isn’t much to some people (my sister, the collegiate field hockey player, is probably rolling her eyes at me right about now), but I’ve struggled to keep myself active on any sort of schedule ever since I stopped having a school team to work out with, so here we are. I’m thinking about doing another post on the best workout apps to use at the gym, but for now we’ll stick to the basics: gym bag essentials. I think the best way to do this is to visualize how you want your workout to go, and then write down all the stuff you’ll need as you think about needing it.
First up? You’ll be carrying your gym bag into the gym, right? So you’ll need a gym bag if you don’t already have one. I tend to like neutral options that are big enough to carry a bunch of stuff if I need it. What if I take up boxing and need to carry those big gloves around? What if I start playing soccer and need cleats and shin pads and all that? What if I have an important interview and I need to go to the gym beforehand and then get changed and ready there before heading to said interview? None of these things will happen to me. But I like to be prepared.
So once you get to the gym, you go up to the locker room and change. So you’ll need a workout outfit (yes, I know, so far this is a groundbreaking list of gym bag essentials), including sneakers, sports bra, top and bottom. Personally, I wore Mizuno sneakers while I ran track and cross country and so I doubt I’ll ever wear anything different, but depending on the intensity of your workout you can go for something more fashionable if you like.
For clothes, I tend to wear leggings and a tank top of some kind. I like the mobility of having my arms free and also not having to worry about extraneous fabric getting in the way or catching on something (or falling off) while I’m working out. In college, tank tops weren’t allowed at our campus gym and I HATED it, so much so that I eventually boycotted the gym (stopped going) to make a statement about my freedom to do what I want (be extremely lazy).
You can usually find pretty good deals on activewear at Marshall’s, but if you want to get fancy you can check out places like Bandier or Lululemon. I’ve also noticed that the Ivy Park line at Topshop is on sale right now (and there’s a decent amount of stuff that’s not too heavily branded) and Matches Fashion also has a pretty good activewear sale. There’s also a new J. Crew collaboration with New Balance, and a new brand called Girlfriend Collective that is currently allowing people to order their leggings for the price of shipping – $20 (you’re welcome).
So next, if you have long hair, you’ll need to put it up. Do you wear a hair elastic on your wrist? Even if you do, you might want to pack some extras (these are great and don’t dent your hair). Do you wear makeup? If so, you’ll want to use some makeup wipes to remove it before getting all sweaty and letting it get into your pores. You don’t want blackheads, after all.
So after all that, you’re ready to head into the gym and actually work out. Woohoo!
So what should you take with you? Well, if you’re working out by yourself and not taking instructions from a human brick of muscle at the front of the room, then you’ll probably want some headphones. In fact, if you don’t already have headphones on your own list of gym bag essentials, then you might be a crazy person. Seriously, who doesn’t need to listen to music to get themselves through their workout? I currently just have a standard pair that I took from my parents house after I managed to lose the pair that came with my iPhone. However, I’m starting to get annoyed with the wire always swinging around when I’m on a machine, or tying me to my phone when I’m trying to do free weights or workout on a mat. I’m hoping to upgrade to a wireless pair in the next month or so.
Speaking of free weights, if you lift weights at the gym (props to you!), then you might want to bring your own pair of gloves to prevent blisters and calluses. Or maybe you actually are a boxer and bring your own boxing gloves.
And when you get dehydrated from kicking so much ass, you’ll want a water bottle. Whether you just bring a bottle of Poland Springs or invest in something reusable, water is definitely at the top of the list of my gym bag essentials.
So now you’re done with your workout. Yay! If you’re like me (gross), then you don’t shower at the gym and you might want some sweats to throw on over your leggings and tank top to stay warm on your way home. Otherwise, you’ll be showering, in which case you’ll potentially need a few things. Towels? Travel size toiletries? Mini hair dryer and hair brush? Makeup? Change of clothes? Definitely a change of underwear. It really depends on what time you go to the gym and what your post workout day looks like. If you go in the morning before work, you might want all of those things, but if you go later on in the day, then maybe you don’t need all of it.
What do you guys think? Did I miss anything? What are your gym bag essentials? Let me know in the comments!