As women, we have so much to juggle in our personal and professional lives. Your trip to the gym should be a break from all that—a time to put energy back into yourself. Stressing over what to put in your gym bag should never be part of the gig.
Women need gym bags that can take us seamlessly from home, to work, to the gym, and back. We might need to tote multiple outfits, shoes, makeup, hair tools, and more.
To simplify your gym experience, we’ve consolidated a list of gym bag essentials for women. Let’s explore everything you need for when you tackle your next workout.
What to Look for in a Women’s Gym Bag
Before we dive into the contents of your gym bag, let’s talk about the bag itself!
Women, in particular, need well-designed gym bags that can safely carry clothes, an extra pair of shoes, hair products, makeup, and anything else you may need. Your bag might also need to look work-appropriate and be easy to carry throughout the day.
Here are the key features to consider regarding your bag:
- Durability: You need a bag that will stand the test of time. Look for durable materials and high-quality design. If you plan to shower at the gym, get a bag with separate waterproof compartments for sweaty clothes and wet towels.
- Features: Many brands design their gym bags with unique features like shoe compartments, water bottle pouches, extra straps for a yoga mat, and more.
- Size and Shape: If you’re going to commute with your bag, look for something super light and portable or even a backpack. Check the locker size at your gym and make sure your bag will fit.
- Style: Gym bags come in all styles, colors, and designs, and the style is where you can express yourself.
Gym Bag Essentials for Women
Okay, so you have the perfect bag – now what do you need to pack in it? The answer depends somewhat on when you exercise and what type of workout you prefer. But there are plenty of basics most of us share.
Let’s walk through each category of gym bag necessities and dig into the details of what you’ll need.
Apparel and Workout Clothes
Wearing proper attire during your workouts can make a huge difference in your performance and your comfort. Some psychologists say that wearing clothes that make you feel confident and athletic can help your performance.
Since gyms are a community experience, you also want to be sure you have fresh clothes for your workout and post-workout.
Don’t forget to bring these clothing essentials with you:
- Athletic clothes
- Training sneakers
- Fresh socks, bra, and underwear
- Post-workout outfit and shoes
- Shower flip flops
Nothing is worse than getting to the gym and realizing you didn’t bring a pair of extra socks or a pair of sandals for the shower! Make sure you think ahead and check everything off of your list before you leave home.
A well-packed gym bag will ensure you’re ready for the gym and whatever comes next. Hygiene items are essential for your gym bag, so you can leave your workout feeling refreshed and prepared for the rest of your day. These items are crucial if you plan to work or meet up with friends right after you exercise.
As you pack your hygiene items, think through each step of your workout from the moment you walk in the gym to the moment you walk out. Some gyms will have essentials like hairdryers, but you may be on your own.
Do you prefer to work out fresh-faced? Pack some makeup wipes. What do you usually need before, during, and after a shower? Do you plan just to towel off? Remember that a post-workout shower can dry your skin, so it’s important to have the proper moisturizers with you. If you plan to go out after the gym, think through your regular beauty or “getting ready” routine.
Of course, everyone’s list will be unique, but here are some essential items you might want to consider bringing along:
- Shampoo, conditioner, and soap
- Hair products, such as dry shampoo or hair spray
- Face wash
- Extra scrunchies, hair ties, headbands, bobby pins, and other hair accessories
- Hairbrush or comb
- Body and face moisturizer
- Makeup and makeup remover
- Menstrual products (tampons, pads, menstrual cups)
- Perfume or body spray
- Oral healthcare Items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and/or mouthwash
You can also keep a list of “must-haves” and “nice-to-have” if you find yourself running low on space.
Unless you plan to use the gym equipment exclusively, you may need to pack a few extra items to get the most out of your workout.
Be extra prepared by bringing your workout gear for specific workouts like yoga, strength training, or pilates. Depending on your gym and the type of workout, some fitness equipment may or may not be available. You also may need equipment customized to your size and needs.
Here are a few examples of fitness gear you may need in your gym bag:
- Lifting gloves, straps, and resistance bands
- Microfiber towel for sweat
- Yoga mat or block
You can buy these items online or in stores. We have several recommendations for yoga mats and blocks here on our blog, as well.
We’re in a connected world, and even when you’re at the gym, you probably want to bring your technology with you.
You should have your phone with you in case of emergencies and a pair of earbuds so you can enjoy music during your workout. Studies have shown that upbeat music can improve your mood during exercise and increase your peak performance levels.
Consider packing the following portable tech:
- Headphones and music player
- Cell phone
- Phone chargers or power banks
- Wearable fitness tracker for tracking workout metrics
Fuel for Your Workout
After a workout, your body needs to replace the nutrients your muscles expended during exercise. Keeping a nutrient-dense and protein-rich snack in your gym bag can help your body recover and improve.
While you can always pick up a snack on your way out of the gym, it’s a good idea to have a few in your bag.
Here are some examples of high-protein snacks to carry in your bag:
- Protein bars
- Protein powder with a shaker bottle
- Raw nuts or trail mix
Other Gym Essentials
Staying hydrated throughout the day keeps your body operating well and prevents severe conditions like dehydration and fainting. Most gyms will have a water fountain, but water bottles allow you to keep water next to you as you perform sets.
For safety, you’ll also want to be sure you have a lock for the gym lockers or for the zippers of your bag.
Keeping things clean and sanitary is another high priority. Make sure to carry hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands after touching communal equipment and machines. It is also helpful to bring a shoe bag, so your dirty shoes don’t contaminate the other things in your gym bag.
Gym Bag Packing Tips
Packing a gym bag eventually becomes second nature. As you make a habit of exercise, you’ll be more prepared for everything you need.
To make sure you’re ready for your next workout, try these two tips:
- Have a gym bag checklist. An inventory ensures you never forget an essential item, even if you’re in a rush.
- Check your calendar. Before you head to the gym or at the start of your day, take a peek at your calendar and to-do list to make sure you have everything you need for whatever you are doing after your workout.
These tips help to minimize those stressful moments when you’re running late, or when you’ve forgotten something but just can’t remember what it is.
Having the right supplies in your gym bag makes all the difference between a stressful experience and an invigorating workout. With a bit of thought and planning, you can be sure you have the right bag for you and the right essentials packed to maximize your exercise.
If you’re looking for more recommendations for gym bags and other gym essentials, check out our other articles!