If you’re heading to the gym, you need to be prepared. It can throw off your workout mojo when you realize you forgot your pre-exercise snack, fresh underwear, or headphones (so long, sweat-sesh playlist!). And if anyone knows about gym-bag essentials, it’s fitness coaches, whose jobs depend on having the proper trainer tools to teach and crush hard each day. So we checked in with a few pros for their top must-haves to stash in your gym bag — now you can ensure you’re covered before, during and after your workout. Always.
Top Trainer Tools to Always Keep In Your Gym Bag
1. Workout Notebook
“I love to be able to write notes and thoughts down as the day goes by and it’s an easy way to plan classes from anywhere, keep track of what I’ve taught, and jot ideas down,” says Kat Wiersum, Interval Training Instructor at Studio Three.
It’s a good idea to keep a notebook for your workouts, too, so you can jot down how you felt during the workout, track sessions, reps, gains and goals.
2. Pre-Workout Protein Bar
When you’re rushing from one client to another, or from work to the gym in a busy day, it’s important to make sure that you have fuel on hand in your bag. “With this in mind, grab a quick and easy healthy snack to keep you going between workout sessions,” says Caleb Backe, CPT and fitness expert for Maple Holistics.
“Post-workout your body may need more than an energy bar to keep you going, but it’s always good to have some extra energy on hand to hold you out before your workout,” he says. Opt for one of Kashi’s Chewy Nut Butter Bars, which come in several delicious flavors and pack a protein punch.
3. Jump Rope
Stash one in your bag for that quick, on-the-go calorie torcher. “Keeping any light and useful workout gear on hand is a no-brainer for a fitness trainer,” says Backe. “A jump rope can be used for a warm-up, cool down, or even a full-blown full-body jump rope workout.” It’s a great way to show clients that working out doesn’t need to be complicated or boring, he adds, and he loves using it himself.
4. Gaan+co Wipes
These pre-moistened face wipes have a nice fresh scent and get you squeaky clean post-workout when you’re not able to squeeze in a shower. “For those days where I am in a rush, I grab these wipes,” says Emily Greenaway, CPT and Interval Instructor at Studio Three in Chicago. “I love to use these in between classes or remove my makeup quick.”
5. Fré Revive Me Replenishing Serum
Sweat and frequent washes wreak havoc on your skin. “During the winter time I’m a person that gets really dry skin. Especially when you workout multiple times during the week and wash your face constantly it makes it worse,” says Rubie Canton, boxing instructor at Shadowbox. “Fré created this facial moisturizer that I swear by! It’s lightweight but just enough to keep my face moisturized after a quick face wash.”
6. Extra Workout Clothes
Ever get to class and realize you forgot gym socks or that sports bra? Get ahead of that by stashing extra clothes in your bag and you’ll always have a spare just in case. “I carry an extra sports bra, workout pants, tank top and socks,” says Greenaway. That way there’s no excuses not to workout and you’ll have a fresh change of clothes for afterward.
7. Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer
Kick your coffee up a notch with a boost of collagen, or protein, to increase satiety and improve hair, skin, and joint health. “You can find Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer in my purse, gym bag, car and basically anywhere I am. I’ve been using it for years not and always have little travel packs with me so I can get a quick dose of healthy fats and protein on the go,” says Katie Dunlop, CPT and owner of Love Sweat Fitness. “My schedule gets nuts, and it’s just an emergency back up so I never get stuck hangry.”
8. Hair Ties (And Lots of Them!)
For any long-haired warrior, doing burpees with loose locks is a nightmare. “I always have a hair tie (or 10) on hand! The last thing you want is to be ready to workout and without a hair tie, so I usually have a bunch in my bag so I can throw my hair up without worrying about it,” says Dunlop.
9. Spartan Mobot Foam Roller Water Bottle
There’s no need to waste money (or harm the environment) on plastic bottled water when you can bring your own and refill throughout your session. Opt for the Spartan Mobot Foam Roller Water Bottle which doubles as a recovery tool to help you roll out stiff muscles and trigger points after your workout. Plus, its smaller diameter makes it extra portable, fitting most backpack sleeves and gym equipment. “Just about every workout facility will gladly refill your water bottle. As a fitness professional, understanding the importance of hydration and the impact of plastics on our world, it’s only smart and responsible to keep your container nearby to hydrate your toughest workouts and life between,” says Gideon Akande, CPT and instructor at Shadowbox.
10. Spartan Strength Band — Extra Light
Warming up the glutes and legs with a resistance band helps prepare the body for more work, like weight training and cardio. Try the Spartan Strength Band in extra light to improve overall strength and endurance by adding it to standard exercises, like chest presses and squats. A resistance band is great for increasing flexibility and range of motion.“I always have a mini band to complete a proper warm up involving glute [work],” says Bret Gornick, CPT and instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp.