Gym Bag Essentials – What Are Your Workout Necessities?

I can fit a lot of stuff in this baby (though it's smaller than it looks).

I fit a lot of stuff in this baby (though it is smaller than it looks).

I came across this article from Fitbie this morning, with some great gym bag suggestions from trainers – and it got me thinking about what I keep in my own bag. For something a little different today, here’s a peek into my fitness world … and keep in mind, as a fitness instructor, I carry around some perhaps unorthodox (or maybe just “Huh?”) items.

  • Gym clothes/shoes. This is kind of a no-brainer. I go straight to the gym from work, and let’s be honest – it’s a lot easier to run, squat and press in a pair of leggings and a tank top than it is in a skirt and heels (and this is why people don’t recognize me when they see me walk in some days …)
  • Mp3 player and extra CDs. A workout with no music is no fun. While I have all my class playlists loaded on the mp3 player, there have been occasions that for one reason or another the mp3 cord is on the fritz (or I forget to charge it), I have back-up. Seriously, do you want to try a silent class? Didn’t think so.
  • Batteries … and lots of them. This is one of those fitness instructor musts – I have at least a half a dozen AAs rolling around my bag at any given time. To be honest, I know some of them work, some of them don’t, but unless they die during class, I have no idea which is which … which is why there are so many of them. I started carrying an extra heart rate monitor battery, too, after the last time it died unexpectedly – just in case.
  • Extra socks. I pack my gym bag at night, and tend to be in the middle of 15 other things as I do so. After forgetting to throw a pair of socks into my bag one too many times, I finally learned my lesson and started keeping an extra pair in a spare pocket (I needed them last night, in fact).
  • Notebook and pen. I wish I could say it was to chart my workouts … but I’m not that organized. It’s for when I have to write down a website, phone number, email address or something for someone after class.
  • Extra ponytail holders. I typically keep one on my wrist to ensure that I remember one (because a hair-down workout is never gonna happen – my hair is too long and I sweat too much), but you never know when one will break, and I like to have one on hand in case I run into someone who needs one.
  • Lifting gloves. I really only use these for a few exercises, but sometimes that little bit of extra padding can make a big difference in your grip – especially if, like myself, you have smaller hands.
  • A band aid or blister pad – maybe two. I haven’t had a blister problem since I discovered Mizuno running shoes three years ago, but I’ve had my share of painful blisters throughout the years, and old habits die hard!

There are also a few non-mainstay items, which are usually in the athletic store that is the trunk of my car until I need them for a class:

  • Yoga/Pilates mat. There are actually two in my trunk right now – if you are taking at least a class a week, it’s worth your while to invest in your own. My gym has mats available, but I feel like with my own, I at least know who’s been sweating on it.
  • Cycling shoes. I strap these babies on at least once a week – if you are a regular cyclist and haven’t invested in cycling shoes, DO IT. I was skeptical at first, but the ride is much smoother (don’t know what to look for? Click here).
  • Piloxing gloves. There are currently seven (yes, seven – as in 3.5 pairs) of these in the bottom of my mat bag. I can’t bear to throw them away, even though they are past their prime (the tell-tale rust around the stitching should be my first indication).
  • Tune belt. That microphone has to go somewhere, and it’s just easier to have my own than to use the beat up ones that may or may not be in the studio on any given day.
  • Windscreens. (For those of you asking what on earth that is: a little piece of foam that goes over the mouthpiece of the microphone.) It’s cold and flu season. If I have to have something practically touching my mouth, I want to avoid the petri dish of germs as much as I can.

What do you keep in your gym bag? Anything on the unorthodox side – or what can’t you survive a workout without? Comment below!