How to Pack the Perfect Gym Bag

I am not a health nut and am definitely not a gym rat. A month ago I basically wouldn’t have been caught dead within 50 feet of a gym. I was an athlete in high school and although I gave that up once I hit college, I stayed active enough (and had great metabolism) that a gym wasn’t necessary.

Flash forward to age 24 and my metabolism isn’t what it used to be. I am a full believer that life’s too short to not enjoy food – but exercise isn’t negotiable. I’ve been getting up early to hit the gym before work as often as I can over the last month. I’m working slowly on getting a routine down, but what’s really helped me keep at it is being packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Enter: the perfect gym bag. An early morning wakeup means zero energy to run for the bus – I need to be able to grab a bag and head out!

Pick a bag you love.

Finding your perfect gym bag can actually be really difficult. At least it was for me! I’m really picky about what bags I carry with me. I have a commute to work that includes a bus, a train, and a short walk, so anything big and bulky wasn’t going to fly. I am also petite in height (unfortunately my hips and thighs aren’t so petite..) which means most big bags look huge and just plain ridiculous when I’m carrying them. I needed something big enough to fit all my gear, small enough to still look proportional, and chic enough to carry to and from the office.

We’ve already walked down the road of my Vera Bradley obsession together at least once before. But seriously – I love Vera Bradley. All the girls back in dance class growing up rocked a Vera of some kind (don’t act like you weren’t one of them). I settled on the Small Duffel 2.0 bag. I love the size of this duffel (not too big, not too small) and the interior pockets for my shampoos, water bottle, and wallet/keys.

Vera prints can definitely be tricky and overwhelming, but there are about three prints from the Spring-Summer lines that I’ve fallen head over heels for – one of them being this awesome black and white leopard print called “Camocat.” I knew I’d be (hopefully) carrying this bag 2-3 times a week and needed something that could pair back to almost any outfit, so black and white totally fit the bill.

Being in love with my gym bag means I want to carry it. The end result is going to the gym more often because I’m so excited to carry my bag. Whatever it takes to motivate yourself to get to the gym – do it! Sometimes for me it’s the idea of an adorable bag.

gym bag

gym bag

Stick to travel sized.

I try to hit the gym in the morning before work which means I usually need to pack a full bag for the entire day. Between an outfit for work, a makeup kit, and maybe even my lunch for the day – there’s not a ton of room to spare and I really try to keep my bag light. The easiest way to pack an efficient gym bag is to grab travel sizes of shampoos, conditioners, and even makeup! Whether it means splurging in the travel section at Sephora or just hitting up your local Target, travel sizes are serious space savers when it comes to packing for the gym.

Not only do travel sized items save space, they make life easier in general. I think I’d have trouble juggling full size products from the lockers into the showers. My shampoo, conditioner, and face wash fit into one hand, leaving the other hand free to hold closed the napkin the YMCA likes to pretend is a towel.

gym bag

Keep clean.

Sidebar: I grew up in a matchy matchy household. My mom takes the meaning of “outfit” to a whole different place. Her shoes have to match her leggings, her leggings have to match her skirt, her skirt has to match her top, her top has to match her bag. Seriously she is one color and print coordinated lady like you’ve never seen before. That being said – I’ve inherited teensy pieces of that. I definitely can’t pull off a head to toe matching situation (and I’m not sure I want to), but I do get a sick sense of pleasure when I’m coordinated. Matching makes me feel put together. Hence the matching flip flops for the showers.

If you’re like me and you shower at your gym – you need shower shoes. It’s dorky and feels weird and it’s so necessary. Thinking about all the dirt and other grime your freshly cleaned feet can pick up on your way back to the lockers from the shower gives me hives. And also thinking about your innocent feet touching that tainted shower stall floor makes me want to cry. Whether you’re into matching or want to go in a totally different shower shoe direction – just trust me that you do need them to keep clean. Wink wink.

gym bag

Always have a water bottle & snacks.

Staying hydrated is crazy important in general, but especially while working out. Packing a water bottle is definitely like gym 101. Snacks on the other hand aren’t always so intuitive.

I’m a girl who gets hangry. I hate working out on a full stomach, but if I’m hungry I feel like I’m barely human and can’t focus. Healthy snacks that you can toss in your gym bag and forget about up until that moment of hanger are key. An apple, a health bar (I love Luna bars!), or anything that will hold you over and keep you motivated is perfect.

gym bag

I know it sounds crazy, but picking out a gym bag I love really has motivated me to get to the gym more often. Not to mention packing it the night before means I’m already in the gym mindset and ready to go right when I wake up!

How do you motivate yourself to hit the gym? What are your gym bag essentials?




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2 responses to “How to Pack the Perfect Gym Bag”

  1. Emily Bruner says:

    im not usually a huge fan of vera but that gym bag is CUTE! oh, and you should try ThinkThin bars…they are soooooo yummy!

    xoxo, em

  2. Late January says:

    I need to go the gym, but always find a million reasons to not take 30 minutes out of my day just for me. You touched on some of my struggles, and I LOVE your suggestion of travel size make up. I had never thought of that, but now it seems so obvious. I’ll keep you posted if I enter a gym in the near future 🙂