You’ve made the first step and joined a gym – congratulations!
Gyms have all the right machines and supplies that you need to break a sweat and offer great variety in solo-workouts and classes.
While gyms have all your equipment needs sorted, you’ll need to bring your own personal gym supplies.
If you’re looking to get into a regular workout routine at the gym, it helps to find a new gym bag to carry all your belongings.
It seems pretty straightforward, but there are some essential items that are easily forgotten. What exactly do you need to take with you?
Here are the five essentials for your gym bag.
1. Sweat it out in active gym clothes
It goes without saying that you’re not going to lift weights in your work uniform/outfit, walk on a treadmill in evening wear, or work up a sweat on the elliptical in a summer dress.
The number one essential to have in your gym bag is gym clothes, especially if you’re not showing up to the gym in them.
While you may think that gym clothes just means shorts or a pair of leggings and a top, you’ll also need a sports bra, a fresh pair of socks, a headband and joggers/gym shoes.
If you’ve joined a gym that has additional facilities, such as a swimming pool, don’t forget to pack your swimwear.
If you’re buying new clothes to treat yourself for taking that important first step of joining the gym, make sure you find comfortable and breathable pieces, such as leggings and T-shirts (or crop tops if you don’t want a baggy shirt getting in your way).
Even if you do show up in your gym clothes, packing a spare set ‘just in case’ for emergencies is always a good idea.
2. Stay fresh with a gym towel
Most gyms will require you to bring and use a towel for hygiene purposes, so a gym towel is definitely the number two essential to have in your gym bag.
While there’s nothing wrong with getting a spare, clean bathroom towel out of your cupboard, it’s a good idea to buy one specifically for your visits to the gym.
Cotton towels are a good choice as they are very absorbent and will dry quickly, however microfibre towels tend to be more popular, as they are more absorbent and hygienic.
There are a range of sizes to suit you. Add a personal touch with a colour or bright print and make sure you don’t lose your towel!
If you get to the gym one day, look in your bag and discover that you forgot to pack your towel, don’t sweat – most gyms will provide clean towels for members to use (sometimes for a small additional fee).
3. Stay hydrated with a water bottle
It’s important to stay hydrated during your workout, but you obviously don’t want to have to keep walking back-and-forth to the drinking fountain. A water bottle is another essential for the gym bag.
You can easily buy a reusable water bottle in a variety of colours that can hold as little as 500mL to as much as 1,5L of water.
You can also opt for a bottle that is environmentally friendly and can keep your water cooler for longer.
There are even reusable bottles out there that filter the water you fill it with. While some bottles are dishwasher safe, others will need to be hand-washed, which might affect your choice.
As reusable water bottles generally last longer than standard or single-use water bottles, your wallet, as well as the environment, will thank you.
4. Freshen up with personal care items
While you know you’re going to be working up a sweat at the gym, you probably don’t want to leave drenched in it.
Personal care items are another essential to throw in your gym bag.
These items may vary from person to person. In a nutshell, you’re going to want items that will help with hygiene, keep you fresh and prevent you from coming down with any locker room infections.
Personal care items are also important if you plan on using the shower before you leave the gym.
Some personal care items to pack can include:
- Antifungal spray/ointment
- Shower shoes
- Body wash
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Washcloth or loofah
- Hair ties
- Bath towel (a different towel to your gym towel, very important!),
If you’re not planning on using the shower in the gym, pack some dry shampoo, cleansing wipes, and hand sanitizer so you can still freshen up before you leave.
If you’re worried about losing your personal care items or any leaks, investing in a toiletry bag to keep these items together in your gym bag is a good way to go.
5. Munch on some post-workout snacks
You’re bound to be hungry after working up a sweat. After burning off all that energy, you’ve definitely earned a post-workout snack. This is another essential item to keep in your gym bag.
High-protein snacks are recommended after working out, as protein helps with muscle recovery, development and strength.
These might include protein/energy bars, a protein shake (if you can get one from the gym, or you can make it yourself if you have a shaker bottle), nuts and dried fruit, all ready to eat on-the-go.
Eating a high-protein snack is recommended within a few hours post-workout to tide you over until you can replenish yourself with a high-protein meal.
As you get into the habit of going to the gym regularly and your fitness improves over time, you can adjust how many essential items you pack and what those items are.
To start with, these five essential items in your gym bag are all you need to kick off your fitness journey and regime at the gym.