What to Bring to the Gym for a Beginner

Signing up for a gym membership is a great first step to a healthier lifestyle, but there’s more to starting a new habit than simply lacing up your sneakers and heading out the door. It can take a little practice to perfect what you pack for an ideal workout, and to start remembering all your gear every time you go to the gym.

Deciding What To Bring to the Gym? Try This Packing List

Still wondering what to bring to the gym? We've offered a few packing suggestions, organized by category, to help you build the perfect workout bag. Breaking your list up like this makes it harder to forget an item, and helps you see if there's any duplicates or extras you can do without.

workout gear for beginner

Workout Essentials

Contrary to what most dedicated gym-goers might think, the essentials for the gym aren’t all that hard to pack. Let’s start with the basics of what to bring to the gym:

- Water bottle (don’t forget your Liquid I.V.!)
- Gym clothes (shorts, socks, running shoes)
- Headphones, preferably wireless ones
- Any specific workout gear (bathing suit, lifting belt, etc.)
- A baseball cap (optional, but keep one in the car)

That said, it’s a good idea to pack an extra set of gym clothes each time you go, especially if you’re planning on simply keeping your gym bag in your car. The extra set of clothes can be a lifesaver on days you end up double-dipping in your gym activities, or anytime you work out on consecutive days.

Post-Workout Grooming Supplies

Whether you're a morning workout fan who likes to get the hard stuff over with first thing, or you prefer to unwind after work with a rigorous gym sesh, it's important to have the right grooming gear on hand so you'll be fresh for whatever comes next. From morning meetings to evening happy hours, most of us are squeezing time at the gym in between other activities—but no one has to know, as long as you pack your gym bag right.

Always pack:

- Full-size towel for after your shower, use in the sauna, or privacy when changing, etc.
- Shampoo and conditioner. We all have a favorite brand, so bring yours along in a travel-sized container.
- Body and hair bar. You can also keep things extra simple with a one-stop-shop bar that will clean your bod as well as your mane. Plus a bar is less likely to spill than liquid shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. All you need is a soap caddy to keep the residue off the rest of your gear.
- Flip-flops and shower bag. They're not just for your freshman dorm! Having a water-resistant or quick-dry pair of shower shoes and a tote for your toiletries will help you stay organized, limit spills, and keep you fresh.
- A comb or brush, as well as any styling products and tools. You can always let your hair air dry or sweep it into a quick pony, but it's even better when you can leave the gym looking just right.
- Makeup and makeup remover, so you can treat your skin right
- Deodorant. It's the gym. Enough said. However, some deodorants can get melty in a hot car. Opt for an antiperspirant spray to spritz on before your workout, or grab underarm wipes to help you quickly refresh.

Workout Extras

Fortunately, narrowing down what to bring to the gym not only streamlines your workouts, it can also help keep you motivated. For example, packing your music and headphones can help make that 45 minutes of cardio fly by faster. Placing your gym bag in your car ahead of time eliminates excuses to skip your workout.

gym bag

Bring along:
- An extra lock for stowing your gear
- A hat and sweatband, if you tend to glisten
- Gloves, weightlifting belt, etc. if you're doing heavy free weights
- Extra socks, workout clothes, etc.
- Any supplements for before, during, or after your workout
- A small towel is handy for wiping the sweat off your brow or off the equipment
- Fitness tracker
- Extra charging cable for your phone, tracker, MP3 player, etc.

See you at the gym!

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