Since we're at the start of a new year, there are a lot of us out there who are spending a lot more time in the gym than they usually do. And hey, good for you, if you are! But if you are one of those newly minted gym rats, you might not have your routine down pat just yet. That might mean your workout routine, but it might also be how you prep to go the gym in the first place. You know you have to bring your house keys, gym card (or phone if you scan in with an app), and a water bottle. But depending on your game plan, you might need to bring a change of clothes, extra gear, a snack—it all depends on your preferences.
To make sure you're all prepared for gym time before, during, and after, we made a list of suggestions of essentials to consider. Take a look below and you'll be set for your workout.
A Gym Bag
First things first, well, you're going to need a gym bag. While I've used whatever tote bag I had on hand in the past, when I got a real gym bag (with pockets!), I felt so much more organized rather than just throwing everything into a jumbled abyss. I still use my tote bag if I'm traveling light, but when I am going somewhere afterward or doing a morning workout before heading to the office, I bring my gym bag to make sure I have all my essentials to get ready.
A Water Bottle
Bring your own reusable bottle—you'll be saving yourself some money and also doing your part to reduce single-use plastics. Win-win!
You can't go wrong with a S'well bottle. The slim design makes it easy to stash in just about any cup holder on a gym machine.
Unless you're heading to a class with an instructor who has curated a motivating playlist, you're going to want to bring your own headphones so you can listen to whatever you want while you're working out on a machine or on the floor. Splurge for some Bluetooth-capable ones so you don't have to deal with wires.
Some gyms don't provide towels, or maybe you just want to use your own. Either way, it's helpful to pack a towel to wipe off sweat during or after your workout, or to use it on a gym mat to avoid extra slippage.
Flip-Flops or Shower-Friendly Shoes
If you're planning on showering at the gym, you might feel comfortable packing a pair of flip flops or shower shoes so you don't have to worry about getting athlete's foot or anything.
Skincare and Beyond
If you want to freshen up after your workout session, you're going to want to bring your own toiletries. Some gyms have some stuff on hand, like shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and hair ties, but if you're particular about your own products, you're going to want to BYO this one too. Your gym toiletry kit can be as long or as short as you want, but some basics come to mind: deodorant, dry shampoo (if you don't want to do the whole wash), a brush, hair ties, face wash, and lotion.
A Change of Clothes
While you don't have to pack a whole outfit, especially if you don't have plans that require non-activewear, but you might feel more comfortable changing out of your sweaty gym clothes or throwing on an extra layer over said clothes.
It's really tough to wear real clothes right after a workout. You're overheated and exhausted and just the thought of putting jeans on might seem as grueling as exercise. This slip dress is so easy and lightweight to pull on when you've got to be presentable after the gym.
While it's tempting to hit the smoothie or juice bar afterward, that stuff can really add up. So when you're not looking to treat yourself, pack a snack from home like fruit or a protein bar to refuel.
These bars contain 12 grams of protein and five grams of fiber, which will give you a lot of energy post-workout.