5 New Gym Bag Accessories

Staying Healthy Image Gallery A good gym bag has separate compartments for shoes and dirty clothes. See more pictures of staying healthy.
Staying Healthy Image Gallery A good gym bag has separate compartments for shoes and dirty clothes. See more pictures of staying healthy.

In previous decades, fitness buffs had few choices when it came to choosing a gym bag. Selections were limited to single compartment bags in a limited range of sizes and colors. Shoes, clothing and other gear were all grouped together, and users took their chances on those clothes and other belongings staying clean and dry.

Fortunately, manufacturers have started to recognize the need for a better gym bag, and have introduced new models that meet the needs of the modern gym-goer. Gone are the days of the boring duffle bag with the single, zippered compartment for all your gear. Today's gym bags come with exciting new features that make exercising easy and convenient, giving you one less excuse to skip a workout. Whether you're new to the fitness scene or an experienced power lifter, you have your choice of stylish, functional bags that offer all the extras you need to maximize your time at the gym.


5: Separate Compartments

Modern gym bag manufacturers rely on rugged, water-resistant materials like polyester or nylon. While these materials can protect your gym gear from rain and sweat, they also provide the perfect breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. When you toss your damp, sweaty workout clothing back into your gym bag, you're leaving yourself vulnerable to germs and pathogens that thrive in this type of warm, wet environment. Even worse, you're creating a bacteria breeding ground that leaves your gym bag smelling of sweat, mildew and other unpleasant odors.

Don't carry the smell of the gym home with you. Instead, invest in a bag with separate compartments for wet swimwear or damp clothing. While many people simply use a plastic bag to hold these items, it's easy to forget to bring these bags as you're rushing out the door each morning. Instead, choose a gym bag with a vented pocket that allows air to reach your wet items. Access to the air will not only help these items dry more quickly and protect your other clothing from moisture, but also keep germs from flourishing in your gym bag. Look for mesh side pockets or those with built-in air vents. If you tend to sweat a lot, or frequently include swimming in your fitness routine, choose a gym bag with a removable wet bag that you can wash and dry regularly.


4: Convenient Carry Options

If you take the subway, choose a bag that's easy to squeeze onto a crowded train.
If you take the subway, choose a bag that's easy to squeeze onto a crowded train.

While traditional duffels force gym-goers to carry gear by hand, modern gym bags feature a variety of strap designs that help to simplify travel to and from the gym. A single padded shoulder strap allows users to wear the bag across the body for hands-free transport. Other bags feature a pair of shoulder straps that transform any gym bag into a backpack for maximum portability and convenience. Many manufacturers also include special pockets where these straps can be hidden away when not in use, allowing users to choose from different carry options based on the demands of the day.

Backpack-style gym bags provide the perfect solution for those who plan to walk, jog or bike to the gym. These straps keep the bag close to the body, and eliminate painful bouncing or jostling against the back. Well-designed straps also make it easier for serious fitness buffs to transport heavy gear comfortably, including sports equipment and special weightlifting accessories.


These modern carry options also offer safety and convenience for gym goers who rely on public transportation. A gym bag worn over the shoulder or on the back keeps your gear close to reduce the risk of theft, and also keeps your hands free to hold on in a crowded subway or bus.

3: Dedicated Space for Your Yoga Mat

Any yoga fan can tell you that the average gym bag is simply not large enough to accommodate a yoga mat. Those who wish to skip the house mats at the gym are forced to leave the end of the mat sticking out of a gym bag, which makes it easy for the mat to roll out and hit the floor. Others simply juggle both a regular gym bag and a hand-held yoga mat as they travel to and from the gym.

As more and more mainstream fitness centers have added yoga classes, manufacturers have responded by creating gym bags that can easily hold a yoga mat in addition to your regular gym gear. These bags include sleeves, straps or bungee cords that allow users to attach a yoga mat to the surface of a standard gym bag. These sleeves and straps hold your mat securely in place as you travel to and from the gym, allowing you to cool down and stretch out after your workout.


Best of all, these bags help keep your yoga mat separate from the rest of your gear, which allows your mat to stay dry and free of germs. Even better, you'll be able to skip the loaner mats at the gym, which are prime territory for germs and bacteria.

2: Media Compartments for Music Players and More

Many gym bags have separate pockets for everything from an iPod to a laptop.
Many gym bags have separate pockets for everything from an iPod to a laptop.

Today's gym goers often rely on modern technology to maximize sports performance or stay energized through a long cardio session. Between music players, cell phones and heart rate monitors, many workout buffs could benefit from a separate gym bag just to hold electronics. Rather than tossing these gadgets in with your damp clothes and gym shoes, choose a bag with separate media compartments designed to protect these items from damage.

A media compartment is designed to keep cell phones and other electronics all in one spot, which prevents you from digging through your bag to find a ringing phone. These compartments are made from moisture-proof materials to keep your gadgets in working order, and often feature a fleece or fabric lining that's designed to prevent scratches. Some bags even feature a built-in laptop sleeve to take you straight from the office to the gym without forcing you to lug two separate bags all over town. Laptop sleeves in your gym bag may also help conceal your computer from thieves, who are more likely to spot a dedicated laptop case.


If you walk or jog to the gym, look for a bag with a media pocket built into the carry strap. This special compartment makes it easy to listen to tunes as you travel, helping you to stay pumped up for your workout.

1: Shoe Compartments

The single-compartment gym bags of the past forced users to store gym shoes and clean clothing in a single area. Those who wanted to keep stinky sneakers away from other gear were forced to juggle multiple bags or carry shoes by hand. Fortunately, gym bag makers have finally responded by creating bags with a separate compartment designed just for shoes.

Pre-workout, these compartments help to protect your clean clothes from dirt or debris on your shoes. They also provide a barrier between smelly shoes and other gear. Post-workout, a separate shoe compartment gives gym shoes a place to dry out as you head home or to the office.


Look for gym bags with side pockets made of mesh that keep your shoes secure while allowing for maximum exposure to the air. This type of design provides the most effective option for those who perform extra-hard workouts that leave shoes subject to large amounts of sweat and moisture. Gym goers who primarily exercise indoors can typically benefit from separate vented compartments for shoes. For added protection, choose a bag with an antimicrobial shoe compartment that helps keep germs and odors at a minimum.

Maintaining a dedicated workout routine is hard enough without worrying about your gear. Take advantage of the latest gym bag extras that help you eliminate excuses and make fitting in fitness as convenient as possible.

Lots More Information

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  • Chang, Juju. "From Self Magazine--No More Smelly Gym Bags." ABC News. June 23, 2010. (March 10, 2011)http://blogs.abcnews.com/juju/2010/06/from-self-magazine-no-more-smelly-gym-bags-.html
  • Gorin, Amy. "Reviewed: Must-Have Running Bags." Runner's World. Nov.11, 2007. (March 10, 2011)http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-240-323--12010-0,00.html
  • Kalning, Kristin. "Trade Your Tired Tote for a Gym Bag That Sports Plenty of Room--And Style." NW Source. Jan. 18, 2011. (March 10, 2011)http://www.nwsource.com/shopping/sports-gear/trade-your-tired-tote-gym-bag-sports-plenty-room-and-style
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  • O'Meagher, Gillian. "Avoid Nasty Extras In Gym Accessories" The West Australian. Oct. 29, 2009. (March 10, 2011)http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifestyle/a/-/health/6398151/avoid-nasty-extras-in-gym-accessories-trainer/
  • Overholt, Alison. "The Anti-Gym Bag." Fast Company. April 1, 2004. (March 10, 2011)http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/81/gear.html
  • Tuff, Sarah. "Bag Check." Runner's World. March 2011. (March 10, 2011)http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-240-323--13829-0,00.html
  • Worrell, James. "Gym Bag That Doesn't Scream 'Jock.'" Women's Health. March 7, 2008. (March 10, 2011)http://www.womenshealthmag.com/node/7665