This article was updated for accuracy and relevance on December 24th, 2021.
In 2020, more than 50% of all US gym members were women. If you’re one of them (or you’re planning to become one of them), you might be wondering what to pack in a gym bag.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you’re a bonafide fitness fanatic or a bodybuilding beginner, you need these 20 gym bag essentials for women. Let’s get sweaty!
What Should You Pack in a Gym Bag?
There are some things in this life you simply cannot live without. When it comes to the working out, these 20 gym essentials should always be in your workout bag.
#1 Life Essentials
Maybe this should go without saying, but your phone, keys, and wallet are mandatory. They’re the things you likely never leave the house without. Even so, we’ve all ran out the front door in a rush and forgotten one of the three. Make sure you have these necessities with you before even thinking about hitting the gym.
#2 Water Bottle
Hydration is everything when it comes to exercising. Realistically, you should have a water bottle with you everywhere you go, and that goes double for the gym. Especially when you consider how many gyms are not offering water fountain services due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Pack along a small quick-drying gym towel to use when you start sweating. Like, really sweating. You’ll be glad you did. If you plan to shower after your session, bring a full-sized towel as well (unless your gym has them available).
#4 Gym Shoes
Maybe your gym sneakers match your outfit for the day. If so, great—you don’t even need to pack them—just wear them to the gym.
The odds are you’ll be sporting different shoes outside the gym, especially if you exercise before or after work or class. In which case, don’t forget to include your gym shoes in your bag. Light fabric or mesh shoes are the beat gym gear option, as they’re lightweight, breathable, and don’t take up much room.
#5 Odor Remover
No one likes to admit it, so we’ll be the first: that gym bag, with all its shoes and towels, can get stinky real quick. If you’re a practicing yogi, learn how to clean your yoga mat, to avoid unwanted odors.
Solve that by bringing an odor remover with you. Whether you use odor balls, a spray, or a powder, always carry something to eliminate the smell—especially if you store your gym duffle bag in your car or office.
#6 Hair Ties
The last thing you want on the treadmill is hair in your face. In fact, you don’t want that anywhere. If you were looking for a windblown supermodel hairstyle, you’d be on the catwalk, not the stairmaster.
A hair tie, bobby pins, and other hair accessories are your savior. Keep the hair out of your face, breathe, and focus on that next rep. You got this.
#7 Change of Clothes
When you go to the gym, you need two sets of clothes: one that you’ll wear when you exercise, and one that you’ll put on afterward. If you’re heading straight from home to the gym, you might wear your workout clothes there. In that case, bring some comfortable street clothes for after.
If you’re the type to do squats on your lunch break, you’ll probably want to keep the gym clothes in your bag and change when you get there. Above all, don’t forget the rule about two sets of clothes. No one likes the feeling of wearing dirty clothes after a workout.
#8 Clean Socks and Undergarments
As you pack your extra tops and bottoms, don’t forget to bring spare underwear, socks, and a bra as well. These are the pieces that see the most action, so to speak, so having fresh ones at the ready is a must.
#9 Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker
Does your workout even count if your Fitbit didn’t track it? Okay, of course it does… but keeping track of your exercise is half the fun. Pack your smartwatch to monitor your steps and heart rate, or download an app on your phone to track your fitness milestones.
A modern-day necessity. Whether you’re a podcast kind of girl or you want to blast the tunes, no solo trip to the gym is complete without headphones. To kick it up a notch, opt for wireless headphones, and never worry about a tangled mess of cables again.
Headphones are perfect for when you don’t feel like talking to strangers. And let’s face it—your gym playlist is way better than whatever they’ve been playing lately.
Look at all this awesome stuff in your workout bag. It’d be a shame if someone were to steal it in the locker room.
Don’t even give them a chance! Always bring a gym lock with you, as most gyms provide free lockers for use during your workout. We recommend using a combination letter or number lock, so you don’t have to worry about hanging on to a key.
This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Choose your favorite deodorant or antiperspirant, and stash it in your gym / workout bag. Put some on before your workout and again afterward.
#13 Face and Body Wipes
Sometimes there’s no time for a shower post-workout. But that’s not a problem for you, because you brought face and body wipes. In a pinch, you can use these for a quick dry shower. Give yourself a once-over with a nice body wipe, and you’ll be fresh as a daisy until you find time for a good scrub.
#14 Shampoo and Conditioner
When you do have time to use those shower facilities, make sure you have all the essentials; soap, shampoo, conditioner, maybe a razor and dry shampoo. Stow it all neatly in a hanging shower caddy, and you won’t have to worry about soaking the rest of your gym bag.
#15 Shower Shoes
The showers at your gym may be nice, but they’re still public showers. Slip a pair of flip-flops or slides into your bag and keep your feet away from those tile floors. Nobody wants athlete’s foot.
You should always take your makeup off before working out to avoid clogged pores and irritated eyes. If you have plans after the gym, you may want to reapply your mascara. Keep all your products together in a Cosmetic Pouch, and you’ll never have to dig through your duffle again.
All this exercise is hard work! If you build up an appetite during your routine, we recommend stashing a few protein bars or other snacks in your bag. They won’t replace a meal, but they’re perfect for a quick burst of energy post-workout snack.
#18 Protein Powder and Shaker
Protein is essential to muscle growth and recovery after exercise.2 For those of you that love protein powder, you won’t want to hit the gym without your shaker bottle and some good old whey or pea protein.
#19 Bathing Suit
If your fitness center has a pool, steam room, or sauna, be sure to take advantage of it! Don’t be caught without your bathing suit (and a swim cap, if that’s your style).
Tame that crazy gym hair with a handy hairbrush. Need we say any more?
What is the Best Gym Bag?
Once you know what you want to put inside your gym bag, it’s time to find the bag itself. The gym bag you choose will dictate what you’re able to bring with you for your workout. That means that the best gym bag is the one that carries everything you need, without breaking the bank or your back.
For the minimalist, there’s The Sport Tote Bag. And let’s clear something up here: minimalism doesn’t mean a lack of storage space. This bag can carry your tennis racket or your yoga mat along with all the necessities, making it the perfect gym bag for just about anyone. Wear it as a backpack or a tote, depending on your mood. If you are looking for the perfect yoga equipment, make sure you know how to choose a yoga mat for all of your needs.
If you’re more of a traditional gym-goer, you can’t go wrong with a duffle bag. Introducing: The Sport Duffle. With zipper pockets galore and enough room to overpack, this bag was designed to fit perfectly in a gym locker. Too bad it looks so good that you’ll never want to hide it away.
In general, look for a bag that is spacious (but not humongous), easy to carry, and neutral-colored to match with any outfit. And don’t forget the organizational pockets and pouches.
Organizing Your Gym Bag
Our tip for organizing your gym bag is simple: think about all the different moments of your gym experience, and group your things accordingly.
First, there’s all the stuff you need before your workout (deodorant, gym membership, etc.). Keep those in an easily accessible pouch. Then, there’s your during-workout needs—your headphones, your towel, shoes, and so on. Have these in another section of your bag. Lastly, you have a post-workout portion. Compartmentalize your shower stuff and change of clothes so they’re ready to go.
You can even use packing cubes to make the most of your gym bag’s space. Grabbing your “post-workout cube” and heading to the showers becomes a whole lot easier.
BEIS: For Workout-Ready Women
The perfect gym bag? Check. The perfectly packed bag? Check. With BÉIS, you’re always ready for your next workout—whenever the mood strikes.
We’ll see you out there.
- Expert Fitness. Surprising Gym Membership Statistics. https://expertfitness.org/surprising-gym-membership-statistics/
- Medical News Today. What are the benefits of protein powder? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323093#how-to-use