Gym Bag Essentials

So a couple of weeks ago I asked on Twitter what topics people wanted me to tackle, and the #TeamHooman community came back with a bunch of requests; here’s the first one of the responses I want to tackle:

@MTW3ESQ“Have you done anything about gym bag contents? I run, but thinking of gym, 1st since HS, so new paradigm for gear/clothing.”

What a great topic, and one I can’t believe I haven’t tackled already!

I guess it is one of those things that I take for granted, but if you are new to the gym it is definitely something you should think about.

So below are my bare-bones essentials for what to pack in your gym bag. Oh, and a quick aside before we get started. Whatever you do end up packing in your gym bag, make sure you are doing it the night before and either leaving it next to your front door, or in your car. One of the most common reasons people skip their workouts is because “I forgot my gym bag.”

Don’t set yourself up for failure.

Plan ahead!

Now, on to what you should be stuffing inside of it… hint, it is not your cat.

Your Gym Bag Essentials


I want you to think about your gym bag like Batman’s ever-present utility belt.

Would he leave the Bat-Cave to fight crime without his trusty gadgets around his waist?

No. No he would not.

Therefore you shouldn’t be heading to the gym empty-handed either! #BatLogic

I mean, you could be that guy or girl on the treadmill wearing jeans and looking woefully out of place… but why?!?

So here are what I consider the basics. Could you jam more into your bag? Of course! (And dependent on what sort of workouts you are doing, and what equipment/amenities your gym has, you might want to.) There’s no need to over-complicate things though, or spend more money than you have to; the contents of your gym bag have one purpose, to facilitate your workout.

Epic Workout Threads

Because you will probably get arrested if you try to workout naked, you are going to need some clothes.

They don’t have to be fancy, or expensive!

Just practical.

You are going to need:

  • A cotton blend, moisture wicking, t-shirt or tank-top
  • A pair of baggy shorts, track pants or yoga pants
  • A decent pair of athletic shoes

Oh, and ladies, you probably are going to want to get a comfortable sports bra.

The key is freedom of movement.

You want comfortable shirts and pants that don’t bind, or restrict, movement when you exercise. Personally, I am a fan of track pants, a tank-top, and a pair of cross trainer shoes. But like I said, whatever you feel comfortable in will do the job.

There is absolutely no need on spending an inordinate amount of money on gym clothes.

One last thing… make sure you are washing your gym clothes after every use. No-one likes the stinky guy at the gym!

Workout Journal

If you are going to take on a strength training program, you are going to have to keep an exercise log.

Sure, going to the gym and running on the treadmill, or haphazardly throwing up some weights, is better than sitting at home on your couch watching reruns of Futurama; but you aren’t going to make much progress unless you are systematic about it.

So keep a small notepad and pen in your gym bag.

Use it to keep track of:

  • How long your cardio sessions are, and the settings on your machine
  • What exercises you are doing
  • How many reps of each exercise, and how much weight

This not only will help you if you decide to hire a personal trainer, because then they can look back at what you have been doing when they devise your new exercise program, but it will also allow you to systematically increase the intensity of your workouts over time.

Every few weeks ratchet things up just a little!

Raise the resistance on your rowing machine, or the incline on your treadmill, by one setting. Add an extra pull-up or dip to your warmup. Throw an extra five pounds onto the barbell.

When you first start out a lot of things seem daunting, or near impossible. Things like:

  • Doing 20 pull-ups
  • Bench-pressing your bodyweight
  • Squatting double your bodyweight

When you are a level 0 newb those things seem impossible!

The reality though, is that they aren’t impossible. Anyone can achieve those goals with a little work.

You just have to be methodical with how you approach your workouts.

Think about it, Batman never would have become Batman without pushing himself further and further!

So, um, what I am trying to say is – Keep a notebook.

Sweet Tunes

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the music they play at the gym. Either you are subjected to the taste of the person at the front-desk or you get bleed-over Techno from the spin class.

So I bring my own music podcasts.

I used to listen to music when I worked out, but over the years I have migrated to podcasts. While they don’t have the same “pump you up” factor that a hard-driving baseline does, I find that focusing on them helps me from dwelling on the fatigue or pain of a long and grueling workout.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The Comic Corner – The best damned comic book news and review show on the Internet. Hosted by yours truly!
  • The Geek Legacy Podcast – The Geek Legacy gang review the week in geek for you!
  • The Nerdist – Comedian Chris Hardwick interviews all sorts of entertainment personalities.
  • You Made It Weird – Comedian Pete Holmes gets deep and shares all sorts of personal thoughts and feels with his guests.
  • Fatman on Batman – Filmmaker Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin talk Batman, and all your other superhero media news!

So load up your phone, and toss your earphones in your bag!

A Towel

This should really be self-explanatory.

But in case you aren’t sure why having a towel handy would be important to have handy during/after a workout, maybe some wisdom from Douglas Adams will sway you.

“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value—you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble‐sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so readily on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand‐to‐hand‐combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you—daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Shaker Bottle

I hesitated putting this one on the list because, while for me it is a necessity, for a lot of people it probably falls in the “optional” category.

A “Shaker Bottle” (aka “Blender Bottle”) refers to any sort of tight-sealing, plastic bottle that comes with a mechanism for breaking up powders within the liquid to create a smooth drink.

While I tend to shy away from 90% of the supplements on the market today (because unless you are training to be a pro-athlete they are, at worst, a potential danger to your long-term health and, at best, a complete waste of money) I do like to have a good protein powder and recovery mix ready to drink while I am hitting my strength training program in the gym.

In my opinion, drinking a scoop of your favorite protein powder (I prefer a happy medium powder, like Cytosport Muscle Milk; slightly higher carbs and calories than others, but a much better flavor) and a scoop of recovery mix (I tend to go with either Endurox R4 or AfterGlow) together at the mid-way point of your workout will net you the best results.

If you are eating a clean diet, and making sure your daily carbohydrate intake come from fruits, vegetables, and other complex sources (e.g. – sweet potatoes, steel cut oatmeal, brown rice, etc…), your muscles will be burning through their glycogen reserves and craving the sugars and carbs.

Without getting too “sciencey”, this means that the magical concoction in your shaker bottle will:

  • Keep you hydrated
  • Give you the energy to give your workout your all
  • Provide enough protein to immediately start rebuilding muscle tissue
  • Be fast-digesting enough so that your liver converts the sugars into glycogen, not fat for your body to store

I think that should do it!

I wanted to say a huge thank you to @MTW3ESQ for joining in on the conversation, and giving me a great article suggestion, as well as all the other #TeamHooman members who participated. I will be getting to all your suggestions over the next few weeks!

Editor’s Note – If you don’t know what #TeamHooman is, it’s a seriously awesome Internet community that sprung up out of Ryon Day’s awesome Twitch channel. If you’re looking for a supportive and positive community, what is unfortunately a rarity on the Internet these days, then you should check them out!

Did I miss anything essential?

Is there anything you keep in your gym bag that is out of the ordinary?

Let me know in the comments below!

(Photo credit #1)

PS: If you want help becoming a real-life superhero, then make sure to get your copy of “The Heroes’ Transformation Guide and support the site. Don’t wait!

PPS: Also, be sure to get your free e-book, “The 7 Fitness Obstacles Newbies Face” by subscribing to our mailing list… (no spam, I promise!)

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