Gym Bag Essentials

The long weekend is over and unfortunately it’s time to get back into the routine. Part of that routine includes spending a lot of time training at the gym. With this comes a gym bag packed with everything you would need for a variety of workouts and a post-workout shower. Here’s a look at what’s in my gym bag and a few of my go-to personal favorites.


  1. Gym Bag: I’ve tried a few bags, but none can compete with the simple perfection of my Boston Marathon backpack that I got at the expo. Not only was it affordable, but this little bad boy can pack absurd amounts of crap in it. The important thing to look for in a gym back is big compartments. One compartment is big enough for my clothes, one for my shoes, one for my food, then secret little pockets throughout.
  2. Running Shoes: I would be lying to you if I say I’ve never forgotten my actual shoes.
  3. Flip-Flops: Whatever you do, please put down the dollar for a cheap pair of flip-flops that you can wear in the shower and when getting ready in the locker room. The bacteria at the gym makes you want to gag and if you really want to be freaked out, watch this video. Once I forgot my flip-flops and was still so paranoid that I showered in my socks, balancing on my heels. I’m a freak. I know.
  4. Extra Hair Ties & Headbands: I pack a handful of these in my make-up bag, but always keep an extra stash in the secret pockets of my gym bag.
  5. Tank Top & Tempo Shorts: Running essentials
  6. Two Sports Bras: One for high impact activity (i.e. running) and one for low impact activity (i.e. yoga – they’re more comfortable). Some extra undies and socks are in there as well.
  7. Long Sleeve Shirt & Capris: I pack these as well just in case. Who knows when I’ll change my mind and want to do yoga or need a new shirt to change into afterwards. These are my back-ups.
  8. Make-Up Bag: Packed with girly goodness, a brush and a straightener. I use the blow dryer provided by the gym to save space.
  9. Favorite Products: I called these products out specifically because they are some of my favorites and some that people don’t think of too often. They consist of…

    A) Umberto Dry Shampoo ($8 at Target and you won’t be a grease monkey if you have to skip washing your hair)
    B) Elnett Hairspary ($5 at Target and the best hairspray you will ever use. The bottle is ugly as hell but it holds without looking like you shellacked your hair)
    C) Floss, tweezers, Qtips and ibuprofen (The gym doesn’t provide these and they are basically hygiene essentials. Do it.)
    D) Extra headphones and a lock, no explanation necessary.

  10. Baby Wipes: Here’s my super gym/running secret! The fancy face/body wipes aren’t necessary when you can spend $1 on a ginormous pack of baby wipes. Bring them with you in case you can’t shower, want to wipe off your work make-up before getting your sweat on, or post-race so you don’t gag your family or friends when they meet you.
  11. Food Bag: I keep a large zip-lock bag full of gym snack in case I need a quick pre or post-workout calorie infusion. My bag is mostly full with bars or food I scored for free at races.
  12. Toiletries: As you can see, I’m a fan of zip-lock bags. They’re super effective: cheap, clear and durable. If they rip or look like shiz, just throw it away and get a new one. I keep all of my toiletries that could leak in a separate zip-lock as I can take it into the shower if need be. In this bag is travel sized shampoo and conditioner that I take from hotels, face wash, eye make-up remover, etc..
  13. More Toiletries: Cotton swabs and more! But I’m calling these out specifically because I use the snack-size zip-lock bags and they work perfectly for these items.

So there it is folks, my overall gym bag essentials. What do you pack in your gym bag?

Happy Running!

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13 Responses to Gym Bag Essentials

  1. nice! i’m just getting into the dry shampoo craze – changed my life, seriously.

  2. Beth says:

    wow, that seems so organized. Mine is usually missing a hairbrush and/or all toiletries. I do the rinse with soap in the shower then finger comb and go.

  3. Kim says:

    Great list! I currently need to make the switch from an over the shoulder gym bag to backpack so on the off chance that I want to run home from work, I can do so without looking insanely awkward. I will have to check out this pack! My bag is also a mix of everything you mentioned but it’s a huge jumbled mess! The bottom of the bag is a SCARY place and your post just made me add ‘clean gym bag’ to my to-do list!

  4. Stephanie says:

    I love the quick dry shampoo and baby wipes idea! I also rbi my own towels to shower with and then debate the issues of leaving all this stuff in my locker, worrying that someone might break in, what can I say, I am neurotic

  5. Karla says:

    Wow that bag can fit a lot of stuff, it’s like Mary Poppins never-ending bag! This was real helpful, I’m ALWAYS forgetting something important cause I am never prepared like this.

  6. katie says:

    I carry all of this, minus the makeup, plus about 1800 calories of granola bars, shot bloks, gu, pretzels, etc. sigh.

  7. Tara says:

    I did not know that dry shampoo existed. I think I must have that stuff immediately.

  8. nicole says:

    Good idea! I love your gym bag post!

  9. You’re so organized! And I need some dry shampoo. :)

  10. Emily says:

    you are so much more prepared than I am! i change bags so much that I never have anything I need. I would be much smarter to leave it all in one place. i can’t tell you the number of times I have forgotten toiletries, a sports bra, one shoe, a water bottle, my watch. i’m a mess.

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  12. Sara Val says:

    Wow , I’m glad I read this before my first day back at the gym it might not havebeenvthe experience I’m looking for but I’m prepared now for sure

  13. Shelli says:

    Sunblock is 100% necessary too!

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