Fill Your Gym Bag With These 6 Essential Items

teal gym bag overflowing with workout gear and accessories
A well-packed gym bag is the perfect fitness companion.

by Autumn Jones

Are you ready to work out, but not exactly sure what to pack in a gym bag? Read on — we've got you covered!

Let's start with the bag itself. Chances are, you likely already own one that will get the job done (it's probably in your attic or the back of your closet right now). It just needs to be something you feel comfortable toting along that has enough real estate for all your workout goodies.

Now . . . what to put in it? While it might be tempting to pack the entire contents of your bathroom before heading off to the gym, the essentials are really all you need. With the following six basics stocked, you'll never feel unprepared for a workout.

1. Toiletries

Making sure you have enough deodorant to keep you smelling great (both pre and post-workout) is a must, but tossing in a few other toiletries means you can get that shower-fresh feeling even if you don't have time to rinse off. Keeping face wipes, dry shampoo, lip balm, a toothbrush and toothpaste on hand will save time when you only have a few minutes to primp before leaving the gym.

2. Headphones

When it comes to the gym, don't underestimate the power of a good pair of headphones. If you're working out on the treadmill and feel your stamina starting to wane, the right song can turn everything around and help get you back in the zone. Opt for secure, sweat-proof (or washable) earbuds that won't fall out if the cords are moving with you as you exercise.

3. Athletic Shoes

When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, what you put on your feet is just as important as what you put in your body. According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, "Proper-fitting sports shoes can enhance performance and prevent injuries." Selecting the right pair will help you meet your workout goals. Look for a cross trainer that provides the flexibility, control and support needed for participating in a variety of fitness activities.

4. Hydration & Sustenance

Staying on top of your hydration game is important throughout the day, but loading up on liquids when exercising is essential. Stash a reusable water bottle in your bag so you can refill it as many times as you need to during a gym session. Also, remember to bring along some healthy fuel. Tuck a few protein bars, nuts or fruit in your bag for a nutritious post-exercise snack.

5. Extra Clothes

It's always a good idea to keep a fresh change of clothes (or at least a clean shirt) on hand, especially if you plan to get sweaty while exercising. If your workout leaves your outfit wet — and perhaps a bit smelly — you'll be glad you thought ahead and packed some clean clothes.

Toss a couple of fresh shirts, undergarments and socks in your bag before each trip to the gym. This will ensure you look as good as you feel when you're done exercising.

6. Towel

The ultimate workout staple? A towel. Whether it's keeping the sweat out of your eyes or wiping down a machine before and after use, this essential goes the distance.

If thinking about what to pack in a gym bag can give you a headache, put down the bottle of aspirin and take a deep breath. Stocking your bag with these basics will ensure you're always ready for a workout — and ready after it. And in order to keep all your gear fresh — for the sake of yourself and your gym mates — don't forget to give that bag a clean once in a while!