Going to the gym is a bit intimidating for the uninitiated, and it’s easy to overpack or underpack. There really isn’t much to it though, and soon it will be second nature. Here is a list of things you need to bring to maximize your workout session and minimize your load.

What do I need to bring to the gym?

A bag

One favorite type of gym bag is the sack-pack. It’s light, flexible, fashionable, and a lot easier to cart around than a full-sized gym bag or backpack. Try it – you won’t go back to a backpack!

Shorts and a T shirt

You’ll need loose-fitting, comfortable clothes to train in. These shouldn’t “ride up” or irritate your skin. If you want, you can try a wicking material – these will dry in time for your next session tomorrow! You can wear the shirt you’ll train in to the gym, and a clean pair of pants to wear after the workout. If you bring only one thing to the gym – bring workout shorts!

Sports shoes

These should be comfortably fit, with no kind of irritating arch pressure or toe-friction. Make sure they have a rubber sole for a good grip on a smooth floor. Sometimes these come in darker leather colors which can double for use at the office! If you can spare yourself the weight of an extra pair of shoes, you’ll thank yourself.


This can be a very useful tool; you can time your entire gym session, which helps you in planning; you can time your break between sets – one minute between sets, two minutes when switching muscle groups. Your muscles need a minute or two to collect enough ATP for the next set. Without a stopwatch, you’re just guessing. Your perception of time will be off. Gains reward planning!

Lock and Key

Of course, you don’t have to lock your locker – but all it takes is one bad apple to spoil the barrel, as they say, and one petty thief to render you pants-less for the day. A small suitcase-type lock is usually sufficient. Remember to take your key with you before you lock it! You can attach it to your stopwatch, strung around the neck – and do this for the shower as well.

  • Soap
  • Cloth
  • Shampoo  amp; conditioner
  • Ziploc sandwich bag
  • Plastic grocery bag

The gym usually provides the towel – but you might want to confirm that. Hotel-sized shampoo bottles work best, which you can refill from your shower at home. You can use the gym’s soap dispensers but it may be best not to rely on them. Keep the bottles, soap and cloth in your Ziploc sandwich bag, so they don’t leak in your pack. You can take this to the shower with you. Use the plastic grocery bag for your sweaty workout clothes; tie it off, and the rest of your pack will be both odor-free and moisture-free. Just remember to remove your soiled clothes when you get home!

  • New underwear, T, shirt
  • You’ll need a fresh pair! Don’t disappoint every mother by wearing dirty underwear!
  • Same pants, belt
  • Usually you can keep the same pants you wore to the gym.
  • Any other equipment: jump rope, boxing gloves, etc.
  • Depending on your workout you may need extra equipment – usually during aerobic days.


If you like listening to your own music at the gym, these can be handy. They work for audio books as well. However, gyms usually pipe in loud music anyway, as well as television. You might use none of them, and instead concentrate on your body – its feeling, the muscles being employed, and especially technique  amp; form.

Brush or comb

Comb your hair, you slob! The gym usually provides a blowdryer. Note: the blowdryer is for your hair. It’s not for your private areas, the apple you washed, nor for clothes. The other patrons will thank you.

  • Gym ID card
  • You do want them to let you in, right?
  • Everything else you need

Usually the big three: cell phone, keys and money/wallet/purse. You might remember to silence your cell phone as it sits in your locker. Spare the other patrons your ringtone. Believe it or not, they may not appreciate hearing the full version of “American Pie” every time you get a text message!

Please keep this in mind: regardless of your gym’s policy, it’s not a good idea to smoke anywhere on the gym premises, or in locker rooms. While there may not be a rule against it, it flies in the face of many people who go to the gym to improve their health. People will be breathing deeply, and smoke generates toxins that not only pollute the air, but attach to surfaces for later inhalation. So leave the cigarettes out.

There you have it! Going to the gym can be that much easier for you. Knowing what you’ll need ahead of time will free your mind to focus on your reason for being there – your workout!