Gym Bag Essentials: Build the Perfect Workout Bag for your Fit Lifestyle

Not all gym bags are created equal. I’ve seen all these posts about gym bag essentials and it’s pretty much the same obvious 5 things we all know we need: clothes, water bottle, headphones, keys… Because fitness means different things to different people i.e. gym, running, yoga, bootcamps, the basic gym bag is just that…basic. It doesn’t lend itself to the variety of workouts so many different people do. I’m sharing how you can build the perfect gym bag that fits your lifestyle.

The Basics:

This is the foundation of what most people should have in their workout bag. This is perfect for me when my workout is my last stop of the day before heading home. So for a lot of people, this is when they are heading to the gym or a studio from work. I pack pretty light and don’t typically carry a ton with me. For clothes, I should already know if I’m heading to the gym or a studio class. When I worked in corporate, I packed these the night before so it’s ready to go. It could all fit in one of those drawstring baggies.

  • Workout clothes (top, bra, bottoms, socks)
  • Shoes
  • Headphones
  • Hair ties
  • Water bottle
  • Phone/iPod
  • Snacks

Pro tip: I actually create a second basic gym bag to keep in my trunk in case I do happen to forget something. It happens and this has saved me so many times!

The Pro Bag For When You’re GO GO GO:
If you like having access to a little more in terms of comfort in your gym bag, add these items to your basic bag. This is great if you need to head back to work from a workout or absolutely need to shower before heading to your next destination. This is the bag I packed for those 6am morning spin classes and needed to shower before my next meeting. You can always call a studio or gym to see if they provide shower essentials and towels and cut back on what you need to bring.

  • The Basics Bag
  • Wipes: face, body, disinfectant.
  • Dirty laundry bag to keep my stinky clothes separate from everything else. I always grab a few extra from said spin studios.
  • New set of clothes OR a light jacket or pullover to transition into athleisure.
  • Sweat Towel and Shower towel (depends on your gym or studio)
  • Toiletry bag: hair brush, dry shampoo, travel size body soap bar, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, deodorant, tinted moisturizer, make up stick for lips and cheek (or make up bag if you need it all), head bands, bobby pins, razor, lotion.
  • Flip flops/shower shoes because bare feet and community showers are just…nope
  • Snacks

Pro Tip: I love sample sizes of anything and always throw those in my bag instead of having to carry full size items.

For The Gym Babes:

I’ve been hitting the gym a lot more consistently this year and here are a few things I like having with me or will be adding to my bag very soon.

  • The Basics Bag
  • Workout gloves because calluses aren’t cute
  • Notebook and pen to track your progress daily. It’s good to see progression by recording your workouts, weight, and reps.
  • Locker in case you want to put your stuff up and your gym does not have a digital keypad.
  • Barbell pad. OMG necessary. I use the squat racks a lot and hate hunting for these and knowing other sweaty people have used them. It’s also great for hip thrusts.
  • Wrist straps: Again, if you like lifting heavy, these are ah-mazing and help so much.
  • Additional Exercise Accessories: Jump rope, resistance bands, racquet ball for trigger points, small foam roller.
For The Gym Bros:

And can’t forget the guys. I typically hit the gym either with my boyfriend or a guy friend to lift. It’s kind of interesting to see how different our gym bags can be. Asked a few buddies and these are what they recommend:

  • Shaker bottle or bags: for protein shakes or supplements.
  • Powder funnels – great for holding a scoop of protein powder or pre-workout instead carrying those big old tubs.
  • Extra socks, shirts, and shorts.
  • Chalk – for those heavy lifters
  • KT Tape – also for heavy lifters
  • Workout accessories – weight belts, speed ropes, mobility bands, cones. Sometimes your gym doesn’t have every little thing you want. A lot of men carry specialty accessories to help step up their game.
  • Lotion – because being ashy is not ok
  • Icy Hot – don’t have to explain why

There are definitely different items for different fitness types. What yogis or hard barre babe may need will be different from runners, cyclists, or weight lifters.

  • Yoga mat – Always keep one in my car in case I want to head to a yoga class or workout event.
  • Sticky socks – if you need to head to barre or pilates
  • Spibelt – great for running and keeping all your items in place.
  • Portable charger – dead phone or wireless headsets are the bane of my existence. Must always be charged.

I sure hope this was a helpful list. As someone who lives in and out of different studios and gyms constantly, my gym bag essentials are always changing.

What are some of your absolute must have gym bag essentials? If I missed anything, let me know!


    1. Author

      Do you have anything different or special you carry around with you? Would love to add it to the list if it’s not there.

    1. Author

      lol Vital Proteins definitely did a big push. I love them because it’s not just supplementing protein, but all the good stuff for your joints and stuff. No point in having all this lean muscle when your knees cant support you anymore.

  1. Love all your items! I really need to carry an extra gym bag in my car because I’ve forgotten even hair ties before…

    1. Author

      I hate that. Forgotten hair ties and/or dead headphones are the absolute worst. Probably why my guy friends carry a portable charger in their bag. So smart.

  2. Great article. I especially love that you broke it down by type of person. Think I am a Gym Pro cause I am on the go go go.

    1. Author

      Yes girl. I feel most gym bag round ups are really basic. Like no duh you need water, headphones, and a sweat towel. Do you have anything different you’d add for the ultimate gym bag?

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