The contents of your gym bag are as personal as the contents of a woman’s purse. It says a lot about you. Do you lift weights, long-distance run or cycle incredible distances? Someone should be able to tell from the contents of your bag.
If not, you might be lacking gear that will make your workout even more effective. Here’s a list of eight gym bag essentials:
- Snacks: A post-workout snack is important. You need an extra shot of protein to kick-start muscle repair, and it will also keep you from binging later in the day. Trail mix is one of the best snacks you can store in your bag safely. The protein from the nuts and the jolt of carbs from the fruit will give you needed post-workout nutrients.
- Water bottle: Everyone wins when you use a refillable water bottle. The environment, your kidneys and your wallet. Make sure you get one that’s BPA free.
- Socks: A sock isn’t just a sock – it’s nearly as important as the type of shoe you wear when you run. Cyclists should wear a thinner sock, yoga or Pilates practitioners should wear grip socks on shared yoga mats and runners should be concerned about minimizing friction.
- Shoe bag: At the very least, keep your shoes in the outside pockets of your duffel bag. I once punctured my foot with a nail through my sneaker. The resulting tetanus shot was due to the high amount of bacteria in the sneaker, not because the nail was rusty. Shoe funk really is a health risk. You don’t need anything fancy, and washable is best.
- Hygiene gear: Pre- and post-gym hygiene will keep you — and everyone else — happy. Pack travel-sized deodorant, face and/or body wipes, shampoo and body wash.
- Hand sanitizer: Any gym worth it’s weights (haha) has disinfectant wipes on hand for members to wipe down equipment after each use, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always do it. Also, you still have to touch door handles and such throughout your visit. Your hard work will go to waste if you keep getting sick.
- Towels: Yup, that’s plural. You need a towel for the gym shower and one for sweat when you’re working out. Some gyms offer towels as part of your membership package, but I prefer cleaning my own gear. When choosing a towel, I recommend one that dries quickly since you’re going to drop it back in your gym bag.
- Flip flops: Even if you opt to skip using the gym shower, you’re still going to have moments with bare feet. In a public place, that’s never a good idea. Any communal area puts you at a greater risk for fungal infections and even a staph infection. Even though your gym is regularly cleaned, why take the chance?
What are your gym essentials? Did I leave something out that’s important? Leave your feedback in the comments below.
Photo: Paul Heaberlin