Checklist for the Gym

You finally signed up for that gym membership. You have your duffel bag ready, but you might not know what to pack. Make sure you have these nine items in your bag, plus the tenth one by your side.


This is the most important thing to bring with you to the gym. Whether you’re doing cardio or strength training, you’re bound to break a sweat. Because the water is leaving your body, you must replenish it. It is important to stay hydrated before, during, and after a workout.

A reusable water bottle is both cost-efficient and environmentally friendly. You can find reusable water bottles for less than five dollars. An ideal size is one that holds at least twenty ounces of water. Be sure to refill as you drink; most gyms have water fountains to do so.


Working out means depleting your muscles of electrolytes and energy. You need to refill your body’s fuel tank after a hard workout. It’s ideal to eat an hour after you exercise because that is the ideal window for your body to absorb and use the nutrients.

Pack a portable protein filled snack in your bag. Protein will re-strengthen your muscles as well as tide you over until your next meal. While it’s easy to bring a bar or shake, it’s best to use natural foods. Good ideas for post-workout snacks are an apple with peanut butter or two hard-boiled eggs. If you swear by bars or shakes, check the nutrition information, because some contain artificial sweeteners.

A Lock  

A locker is good for keeping precious items safe, such as a wallet or car keys. Be sure to include everything in your wallet too, such as your gym membership card if necessary. Lockers are available for rent at most gyms.

Despite locker rentals, you usually have to bring your own lock. You don’t want to leave your bag out in the open and risk it getting stolen, though you don’t want to lug it through the gym either. Be smart and bring a lock. Come up with the combination you’re guaranteed to remember, such as your birthday or apartment number.


As stated before, you’re going to get sweaty. Toweling off the dripping sweat during and after a workout, specifically on your forehead and around your eyes, minimizes the spread of germs and help keep you cool.  Some gyms supply face towels, but it never hurts to bring your own. If you plan to shower at the gym, bring an additional towel, as well as any other personal hygiene products.           


This goes along with personal hygiene, though some people seem to forget. Sweat will lead to body odor, namely in the armpits and feet, and deodorant will prevent that. You don’t want to be the guy stinking up the gym, do you?

Apply deodorant before heading to the gym and then toss it in your bag. Re-apply during and after your gym session. Stick deodorants are better than spray deodorants because your or other gym-goers may be allergic to the chemicals in spray deodorants.

Change of Clothes

No one likes staying in sticky clothes drenched with sweat, and it’s an invitation for bacteria to get into your skin. Bring an extra t-shirt and pair of pants to change into when leaving the gym or after taking a shower. If you have work or an event following your session, bring the appropriate attire, so you can head straight there. Reuse a plastic bag from the grocery store to put your sweaty clothes in.

As a side note, wear proper attire for exercise when stepping through the gym doors. This includes a t-shirt or tank top, preferably ones with breathable and moisture-wicking material. Shorts or sweatpants are ideal for bottoms. Socks and sneakers are also a must, especially for the exercise machines. A headband is optional, but it can help if you have long hair or are more prone to sweating.

Heart-Rate Monitor

This is a must if you have a heart condition and is recommended by a cardiologist. You don’t want to go overboard with cardiovascular activity, for you may risk aggravating your condition and potentially getting into an emergency. Keep a close eye on your heart rate, so it doesn’t go over a certain number.

However, many step and activity tracker bracelets have a feature for heart rate. To compute your maximum heart rate, you want to deduct your age from 220. That would be the maximum amount of times your heart ought to beat per minute while you exercise. If you exceed that number, it can lead to danger. Even if you don’t have a heart condition, it’s always smart to check during a high-intensity workout.


No matter what the activity, music is a good motivator. Studies show music improves both physical and mental performance. Make a playlist of your favorite upbeat tunes to push you through your workout, and match the beats per minute with your pace. Add a slow song at the end for a cool-down and stretch.

Look into arm straps that can hold your device while you work out. Be sure to bring your headphones. Select a volume that is loud enough for you to hear, but quiet enough not to disturb the people around you.

Specific Gear

Depending on your workout, you may need to bring specific gear. Examples include a yoga mat for yoga and weight-lifting gloves for heavy lifting. A swim cap, goggles, and a bathing suit are necessary for doing laps in the pool. If you’re swimming outside, be sure to pack sunscreen as well.

Some gyms supply such additional equipment, while others do not. It’s good to bring your own just in case to avoid the transfer of germs (unfortunately not all people thoroughly clean off the equipment after using it). If you’re taking a fitness class, ask the instructor if you need certain gear.

A Friend

Studies show that reaching your fitness goals is easier with others. Having a workout buddy keeps you motivated and accountable for those days you really don’t want to go. If you fear to go to the gym, a friend may soothe that fear, and reassure you that you’re not alone in wanting to achieve your fitness goals.  Besides, it’s always more fun when you have a friend by your side to get through that last set, chat with during the car ride, or go for a post-workout meal.

Checklist for the Gym

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