The real goal of everything in your gym bag should be to increase comfort and convenience. You’ll have more enjoyment from your workout experience and less reason to flake out when motivation wanes. Here is a list of the basic must haves. Read on to see how your bag measures up.

Clean-up time
Must have:
Shower shoes
Some gyms provide towels but there may be a cost and that adds up quickly. There is some risk, although minimal, of passing along germs when sharing bar soap. Why chance it? Have your own soap handy. In a pinch, you can use it for your body and hair. Shower shoes protect your feet from germs and reduce your chances of slipping.

Nice to have: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, towelettes (great for spot freshening and make-up removal).

woman with sports bag and bottle of water in gymWorking out
Must have:
Workout wear (moisture wicking is ideal, especially if you sweat a lot)
Sports bra (for women, obviously)
An extra pair of socks…they don’t just disappear in the dryer. There is a black hole in some gym bags, too.
Water bottle – dehydration impairs performance. Always have water on hand. When you have your own bottle, you get to bypass germs lurking on the community water dispenser.

Nice to have: sweat band or cap (great for holding hair back), wrap (helpful if you have an injured knee), and gloves (if you wear these to lift, they are nice to have on hand).

Getting dressed

Must have:
Clean underwear
In most cases, you can put on everything else you wore in and head back to work or wherever else you might go.

Extra credit
Snacks: pre and post workout snacks should include some protein and carbs to give you more energy during your workout as boost recovery and build muscle after your workout. Keep shelf stable selection always on hand in case you forget to pack something on your way. Good selections include shelf stable chocolate milk, energy bars, protein powder and peanut butter crackers.

Entertainment: remember your playlist and headphones. Keep an extra set of headphones on hand or in your glove compartment.

Journal (or fitness tracker): if you keep a fitness journal, it is a good idea to keep it in your bag so you can record your workout right away. If you wait, you are more likely to forget or inaccurately record what you did at the gym.

Ultimately, the most important thing you can pack is motivation to show up and do your best. When you also pack the items that make working out more comfortable and convenient, you will be giving yourself a great headstart.