What gear should men keep in their gym bags?

black gym bag
©iStockphoto.com/sumbul
Packed up and ready to go!

Ready to hit the gym and build some fitness? Not so fast. You've got to pack that gym bag first. A gym bag can be a simple duffle with one zipper or a top-of-the-line bag with compartments for everything from toiletries to a cell phone. It's all up to the man who's using it. Either way, some items you just can't do without. Beyond that, there are other niceties that will make your life easier as you transition from the gym to the outside world.

The must-haves?

  • Workout clothes -- A decent pair of socks and sneakers, a plain T-shirt and shorts will do. Synthetics or blends are good here, because cotton traps moisture and dries slowly. You don't want that bag to get "ripe" faster than need be.

  • Water bottle -- Your body loses a lot of water through sweat. Keep it hydrated with a bottle of water, or if you prefer, a sports beverage. Carry it with you or motivate yourself with the thought of returning to your gym bag at the end of the workout and retrieving some precious fluid.

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  • Sweat towel -- Remember, you're not the only person at the gym. Be courteous and wipe your sweat off the workout equipment after use. If others are less courteous (or just plain gross), a small cotton towel will help you set things right. If your gym already provides spray cleaner and paper towels, use that sweat rag to wipe your brow.

With the bare minimum covered, let's next look at additional gear for your gym bag.

What Else You May Be Forgetting

stinky white sock
©iStockphoto.com/Roman Ivaschenko
The sooner you empty your gym bag after a workout the better.

Workout clothes, a water bottle and a sweat towel are certainly important items to keep in your gym bag, but they comprise a far from exhaustive list of helpful items. Let's look a bit deeper into that ideal gym bag.

  • Work clothes -- Consider when you'll be hitting the gym. Pack clean clothes if you plan on showering after a workout and heading into the office.

  • Plastic bags -- A great way to recycle plastic grocery bags is to use them for your sweaty clothes. This can keep the other items in your gym bag dry, clean and fresh. Just don't forget to take the gym clothes out when you get home or you'll regret it later.

  • Snacks -- You'll likely get hungry during or after working out. Pack some nuts or granola/ nutrition bars to satisfy your cravings.

  • Toiletries -- Travel-sized soap and shampoo are necessary if showering, unless of course your gym provides them.

  • Fresh towel -- Another thing you'll want to consider if you're going to shower; a separate, clean towel to dry off. Separate it from the sweat towel with another plastic bag.

  • Flip-flops -- A pair of rubber sandals is oh-so-important if you shower at the gym. You don't want to catch (or spread) foot fungi that can live in the humid climate of a public shower.

  • Talcum/baby powder -- Heat, friction and sweat cause chafing over time. Keep dry with a little powder before and after working out.

Now that your bag is packed, you're set to pursue your fitness goals. For lots more information, click ahead.

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Sources

  • Asp, Karen. "Sipping Points." Runner's World. July 2010. (March 30, 2011)
  • Gold's Gym. "10 Gym Bag Must Have Items." (March 22, 2011)
    http://www.goldsgym.com/healthy/newsletter/2008-09/10-gym-bag-must-have-items
  • Men's Health. "The well-stuffed gym bag." December 2007. (March 22, 2011)
  • Men's Health. "What's in your locker?" November 2010. (March 22, 2011)
  • Muscle & Fitness. "Training Guide for Beginners." February 2008. (March 22, 2011)