Knowing what to put in your gym bag is the easy way to set yourself up for success. If you’re confident that you have the kit you need, you can focus on your workout.

Of course, there’s a gym bag hierarchy. Forget an item such as trainers and that can completely derail your gym visit. Forget the fitness tracker? You can probably live with an untracked session as a one off.

With this in mind, we’ve created the ultimate gym bag packing list, divided into workout essentials and nice-to-have items. Whether you’re a night-before or a last-minute packer, use this list to get ready – ensuring you have the best gym experience every time.

The gym bag essentials

1. Trainers

cyclone-class-group-cycling-on-indoor-bikes
A Cyclone class at David Lloyd Clubs

Or tennis shoes if your gym has courts, or cycling shoes for a class – whatever type of workout you’re planning at the gym, the right footwear is easily an essential part of your kit.

2. Water bottle

Staying hydrated can have a really positive effect on performance, so make sure you have a bottle with you and keep it topped up.

3. Padlock

Lockers in a gym changing room

If you’re storing your stuff in a gym locker, chances are you’ll need a padlock to make sure it’s totally secure.

4. Workout clothes

As with your footwear, pack the right clothing for your workout. These could include:

  • Workout top and bottoms, ideally made from breathable fabric
  • Sports bra
  • Gym socks
  • Grip gloves for weights, yoga or Pilates
  • Hair tie
  • Swimming gear, including cap

5. Headphones

Listening to music or podcasts is one of the ways to make your workout more enjoyable. Whether you favour ear buds or over-ear, don’t forget this gym bag essential.

6. Membership card or phone

Enjoy a fuss-free entrance to the gym by ensuring you have your membership card! Some gyms let you swipe in via an app; if that’s the case, make sure you have your phone charged and to hand when you arrive at reception.

7. Deodorant

Whether or not you’re planning a post-workout shower at the gym, it’s a good idea to have some odour-reducing deodorant in your bag to freshen up.

8. Payment method

If your gym has a cafe, like the David Lloyd Clubrooms, make sure you have the means to pay if hunger (or a coffee craving) strikes.

The gym bag nice-to-haves

1. Fitness tracker

Don’t forget your favourite wearable in order to monitor your progress and performance.

2. Shower kit

Grooming station with mirrors
Changing rooms at David Lloyd Cricklewood Lane

If you’re going to wash off your workout at the gym, be clear on which products are available there. Some gyms provide everything you might need, from shampoo and towels to hairdryers, which will save you space in your bag!

3. Flip flops or slides

Even if your changing room is beautifully clean, it’s still a good idea to have these to hand if you’re planning on swimming, taking a shower or kicking back in a sauna – walking around barefoot in a changing room isn’t the most hygienic move.

4. Fresh underwear

After a particularly sweaty workout, you may be more comfortable if you can change into fresh pants (and socks, if you’re not using separate gym socks) for the journey home.

5. Shoe bag

We’re really getting into the details with this one, but having a shoe bag for your gym footwear will keep them separate from the rest of your kit – after all, they’re unlikely to be particularly fragrant post-workout! Just make sure you take them out to dry as soon as you get home.

6. Small gym towel

For wiping down equipment after you’ve used it – or to mop your brow during a very intense class.

7. Muscle relief tool

Low-tech version: a muscle rub to help with recovery after exercise. High-tech version: a massage tool such as a Theragun, to loosen your muscles and help prevent injury.

All packed? Take your gym prep to the next level with our guide to what to eat pre- and post-workout.