The new year has begun, as has the J’s annual 100 Day Fitness Challenge. This, of course, means you’ll be grabbing your gym bag and visiting us in the J’s fitness center. But what exactly should be in your gym bag? We asked J Trainer Joel Lydon what he recommends regardless of if you’re a newbie with no idea or a seasoned gym rat who needs a refresher. Here are the essentials.

Let’s start with what you’ll need to actually work out.

1. Athletic shoes

Let’s get started off on the right foot. You’re not going to work out in your work shoes, so making sure you have your athletic shoes in your bag is a must. Making sure you have the right kind of athletic shoes is also a good idea. For example, running shoes are usually lightweight and thin, which means if you’re lifting weights while wearing them, you could damage the shoe, wear it down more quickly, and even potentially injure yourself. Here’s a handy guide from WebMD for helping you find the right workout shoes. 

2. An extra pair of socks

Appropriate footwear extends to your socks as well. Wearing shoes without socks can lead to blisters as well as stinky shoes, and dress socks or no-shows aren’t going to be great for working out. Keep an extra pair of gym socks in your bag, just in case you go sockless or the socks you’re already wearing aren’t ideal.

3. Your gym clothes

Speaking of stinky, fresh gym clothes are a must. No one wants to smell yesterday’s workout, and if your gym clothes have been zipped up in your gym bag since your last visit, then your gym bag and everything in it will start smelling too. For the sake of good hygiene and others’ noses, let’s keep those gym threads fresh. As an added bonus, always having an extra set of clean workout clothes also comes in handy on a day you forget.

4. A water bottle

Hydration is always important, especially when you’re working up a sweat. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up at our bottle filling station at your leisure. A reusable water bottle has the added bonus of being eco-friendly! How much water should you be drinking though? Check out this helpful graphic.

5. Headphones

Whether it’s music, a podcast, or you’re plugging into the TV on the treadmill, having some bopping tunes or watching your favorite show can really help motivate and/or entertain you while you’re exercising. But, nobody else wants to hear what you’re listening to. Bring your headphones and get yourself into the zone.

6. Assistive accessories (as needed)

If you need any assistive accessories while you work out, such as a brace or compression sleeve, it’s a good idea to keep them in your gym bag so they’re there when you need them. You don’t want to get all the way to the gym before you realize you don’t have everything you need.


Now you’ve hit the fitness floor and have worked up a sweat. Your once clean gym clothes are again stinky, and frankly so are you. Fear not, you have post-workout items in your handy-dandy gym bag as well.

7. Shower shoes

If you’re planning on hitting the locker room showers after your workout, it’s a good idea to have a pair of shower shoes or sandals handy. It’s simply good hygiene and reduces your risk of exposure to things like athlete’s foot.

8. Toiletry kit

If you’re taking a shower, you’ll obviously be needing some soap and shampoo. Having a travel-size toiletry kit will help you keep everything organized and in one place, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything at home. If you should forget, the J provides soap and shampoo in our showers, but it’s always good to keep your signature scent.

9. Deodorant

Deodorant is a must for after your workout, even if you take a shower, and especially if you’re going somewhere other than home when you’re finished at the gym.

10. Post-workout snack

Last but certainly not least is your post-workout snack. A protein-based snack shortly after exercising is your best bet, as it will help repair muscle damage and relieve muscle soreness. A protein bar, fresh fruit, or some homemade trail mix are great go-tos for when you’re finished working out.

There you have it, everything you need to have in your gym bag. Now you’re ready to walk into the gym confident that you have all your bases covered. And it’s not too late to start tackling the J’s annual 100 Day Fitness Challenge!