Packing a Gym Bag for the Office

what to put in office gym bag2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on packing a gym bag for the office, but you may also want to check out our post about how to stay fit in winter.

Reader A has a question about what to pack for a workout before, during, or after work hours:

I am an attorney in Chicago. I absolutely LOVE your site and I was wondering if you could do an article about gym bags. Specifically, essentials to have in your gym bag so you don’t have to repack it every time you work out. Also, maybe some cute/durable/good sized bags that you’ve seen. Finally, this may sound silly, but advice on how to pack the bag, like have the stuff you’ll use in the shower in one little pouch; hair stuff in another; or maybe hair stuff with makeup combined.

I don’t necessarily want to own two of everything and my gym does have hair dryers, brushes (not the best though), etc. but if I workout in the morning and I am going to the office afterwards, or after work and want to look presentable when I leave (it is a nice gym with lots of potential business connections), it’d help to have some guidance on what to have and how to pack it in there.

Great question, and I’m curious what readers have to say. The gym bag that I’ve used and loved for the past few years is similar to the one above (LeSportsac – Deluxe Everyday Bag (Dance Dance) – Bags and Luggage, available at Zappos on sale for $58.50) — it’s super lightweight, big enough to fit everything, but small enough to keep me from getting overly ambitious.  When I’ve gone to the gym near work it’s been after work, so for my own $.02, my gym bag would contain:

  • flip flops for the shower — my very first job was as a lifeguard at a public pool and we got a lot of lectures about how gross the natatorium floor was as well as the bathroom floor, and as a result I would never, ever go barefoot in a public space like that.
  • tiny bottles of face wash and face moisturizer/SPF (kept in a ziploc bag)
  • very limited makeup:  for me, an eyelash curler, blush, concealer, and lipgloss (but if I were planning on going to the gym before work, that answer might change)…One of the reasons I love LeSportsac so much is because they always come with perfect little bags for cosmetics like this.
  • a shower cap, a hair tie, and dry shampoo such as Psssssst Instant Spray Shampoo, and a comb — my hair is at the point where it’s really comfortable with dry shampoo so I would probably just wash my face and body and skip the full wash at the gym. Furthermore, most of the gyms that I’ve used have provided soap, shampoo, and conditioner, which would be fine if I did want to wash my hair fully. The hair tie is key, though, since I’ve been known to forget them… I keep them stashed everywhere and somehow am still always out!
  • sport wipes in case I didn’t have time to shower, such as Neutrogena Deep Clean Sport On-The-Go Cleansing Wipes
  • deodorant, possibly a small vial of your perfume
  • fresh underwear in a Ziploc bag — I’ve always done this on the theory that the Ziploc bag keeps the fresh underwear fresh, plus it gives you a place to put your old sweaty underwear
  • a lock for the locker
  • tech equipment to use at the gym — a spare set of headphones, an old iPod shuffle, even a music CD if your gym still has slots to put a CD near the equipment.
  • an empty, clean water bottle — that way you have it if you forget one, but it doesn’t add bulk.
  • extras: an extra sports bra, an extra pair of socks — possibly even an extra bra or an extra black t-shirt (I’ve actually never used these at the gym, but I have headed for my gym bag when I realized that, say, my black bra was showing through my shirt, or when I spilled soup or something on the shirt I wore to work — but you don’t need to keep these in your bag!)

Readers, what do you keep in your gym bags at the office?  Which bags are your favorite?  And what are your best tips for working out near the office, whether it’s before/after/during work?


  1. sport wipes in case I didn’t have time to shower, such as Neutrogena Deep Clean Sport On-The-Go Cleansing Wipes

    Funny, I was actually going to post a question about these this morning before I even knew about this post. I’ve recently started bike commuting, and was going to ask… what are everyone’s preferred wipes? Both for wiping the sweat off your body, and also tips for oil-absorbing sheets for the face would be great… I put my makeup on at home.


    • LinLondon :

      Clean & Clear blotting papers! I’ve tried more expensive brands, the C&C are still the best :)

    • Yes, you’re talking about those blue plasticy sheets right? I love those!

      • I agree, I just wish they we a little bigger like some of the other brand. They do a great job nonetheless.

    • Anonymous :

      A roadbiker here.

      For the body, and those all important sensitive areas that need to be cleaned immediately after a long ride: plain unscented baby wipes. They are great, come in a number of different packages, and are much less expensive than single-purpose sports cleansing wipes.

      • Makeup Junkie :

        I agree on the plain unscented baby wipes; they’re also great for removing makeup, removing coffee spills from your clothes, or to freshen up your pits and bits when working l-o-n-g days. I keep travel packs at my desk; they’re invaluable!

    • Mpls Lawyer :

      Also check out Paper Shower ( – it includes a fairly large wet wipe and a dry cloth. I don’t have access to a shower at work after biking in and these were a good find.

    • The Sephora tea tree blotting papers are great.

  2. I am also a fan of a small container of baby powder, especially if I don’t have time to shower. A light dusting of baby powder helps freshen things up and when it is really hot out I have even been known to sprinkle some in my shoes.

    • This. I inherited my sweat glands from my father (thanks, pops!) and always put some baby powder in my decolletage, on my stomach ,and in the small of my back to absorb the sweat that continues to show up even after taking a cool shower.

  3. Toronto Gal :

    I love Lululemon bags – they have all sorts of pockets to stash your bbery, ipod, beauty products, etc. and come with a washable bag to put your used gym clothes in . Plus they are super cute!

  4. Since you’re in Chicago – I got my gym bag at 1154 Lill Studio, their diaper bag actually! It has lots of pockets and is really lightweight like all of their stuff. It really only works though bc I rent a small locker at the gym, where I keep my gym shoes, travel-sized shampoo/conditioner, flip-flops for the shower, a razor (I use the cheap gym conditioner for shaving gel), my ipod arm band and my gym clothes stash for the week. Makes life so much easier. The gym bag just transports the dirty/clean gym clothes back and forth and my ipod, so it doesn’t need to be all that big or heavy duty.

  5. I just got this gym bag a few weeks ago, and I’m completely in love with it. It’s a great size for bringing all my gym essentials, including a towel, but not too big to schlep on DC buses and metro. Title 9 doesn’t say this in the description, but it has a sleeve for a yoga mat on one side, which was a great surprise bonus for me because then I don’t have bring my yoga mat in a separate bag. (Yes, I am lucky enough to have yoga classes in my agency’s gym.)

    • Whaaaaa? If you don’t mind answering, where do you work? I would definitely change jobs for on-site yoga classes!

    • Not the OP, but my agency, FERC, offers yoga in the gym.

  6. My trick is to pack my bag weekly. I go to the gym at lunchtime and it was a drag bringing my bag back and fourth from home to work. Every Sunday I pack enough pants, shirts, and underwear for the week, and then each time I wear them I just bring the dirty clothes home and leave the rest in my bag at my desk. Its a real time saver!

    I also keep all of my “daily use” makeup in one bag and bring it with me. That way I have everything I need all at once.

  7. A light-weight towel, in case your gym doesn’t provide them. I also keep a plastic grocery bag in my bag to throw my used gym clothes and towel in so they don’t stink up everything else in my bag. Also key- find a machine washable bag. You’ll want to wash it every couple weeks if you use it often!

    • Diana Barry :

      Ditto – I would double-bag my wet clothes (in case one bag had a hole) to bring home and wash.

      When working out before work, I would find that I didn’t sweat as much, and I was OK without a shower – just wipes and deodorant worked fine.

      I always used a patagonia backpack since I walked to work. Now I have gym stuff at home so I don’t need to commute to the gym.

      • Anonymous :

        Great towels are Tec Towels – they’re for camping but they are super absorbent microfiber so I can use the small to dry my whole body after a shower. (Not my hair though.)

        And if you want to carry damp / dirty clothes around, the best reusable plastic shopping bags in the world are from GameStop. They hold up for MONTHS of daily use.

  8. I lug my gym bag daily on my commute (taxi) to work.
    I have to add few tips:
    – Always have and extra pair of socks just in case – tampon or pad
    I probably will think of something else..

  9. You forgot to add a container of Purell. When I go to the gym, I need many times to wash my hands right afterward, or later when I go to get something to eat.

    It is not everywhere where you have access to a sink with soap and water before you eat, so if you are carrying around all of this other stuff, a little jar of Purell is perfect to make sure before you start to eat that you have clean hands.

    It also will disinfect other things that need to be clean. With all of the germs on the subway, you can’t be to careful.

  10. Diana Barry :

    Sorry to repost, but my comment got stuck in moderation on the other thread.
    Just got Cole Haan Air Violet 60 nude for me pumps (for an event)
    I had previously looked for nude for me pumps at Zappos (6 pairs or so) and 9 west (4 pairs). None of those fit. These fit nicely and are not too high (2.36 in/60mm). BUT they were $250. This is way more than I have ever paid for shoes before. Worth it? Should I stalk them on 6pm etc. to see if I can get them on sale? Return them and look for cheaper ones?

    • found a peanut :

      I think Zappos has a pretty liberal return window – isn’t it a year or something? I would hold on to the ones you have until the event (assuming its within the return window) and continue looking on 6pm.

      On a more macro level, I would keep them. Cole Haan shoes are very comfortable and finding comfortable nude-for-me shoes is not easy. You will probably wear them for years to come.

    • Assuming you can afford them, I’d keep them. They fit and are what you are looking for. It may be hard to find another, less expensive pair you like, especially since you already looked at 10 other pairs that didn’t fit the bill!

      Think of the TIME you save by keeping these, rather than continue the hunt. ;-)

      (This is the logic I plan on using on myself once I break that price barrier — which I’m really tempted to do soon!)

    • SF Bay Associate :

      I wear expensive shoes ($200+) and think it they are absolutely worth it. They wear better, last longer, and are more comfortable than most less expensive shoes. I have four main pairs of work shoes in rotation, which is a lot fewer than I suspect most corporettes have.

      If you still uncomfortable with the idea of spending that much, I suggest you see if the shoes are available at… wait for it… Nordstrom because Zappos only takes back unworn shoes. If you get them at N, then even if they end up giving you terrible blisters, you can still return them for a full refund after you’ve worn them, so there’s less “risk” of investment.

  11. Along these lines — any bike commuters out there have recommendations for panniers? I want to start bike commuting several days a week, but since my ride will be about 10 miles and I’ll be sweating after 5 minutes (thanks, DC), doing the trip in my work clothes is impossible. My office is business casual, and if I ever need to wear a suit one day I just won’t bike, so a garment bag is unnecessary. Just something that will hold my clothes and standard gym bag contents, since I never bring work home.

    Which also brings me to my next question — when you bike, do you normally bring your purse, too? I’m thinking a structured, decent-sized leather bag is going to either not fit or get destroyed if I try to jam it in a pannier. It may be easier to keep an extra purse at work, and just transport my wallet back and forth. Thoughts?


    • There are panniers on Rue la la today!

      I use DC’s bikeshare bikes, so they have a basket where I put my purse.

      • In-House Mouse :

        Thanks for the heads up on the Rue La La sale! The Timbuktu Bullitt pannier messenger looks close to perfect.

        I have a cheap (but cute) pannier/messenger bag from Basil with hooks to attach the bag to my rear rack. When the bag is off of the bike, there is a zippered flap to cover the hooks so they don’t get snagged on my clothes.

        On my other bike, there is a wire basket pannier that can collapse when not in use. This is the perfect size to drop in a paper grocery sack or a purse.

    • I bike-commute 6 miles each way a couple of days per week, and I have this Ortlieb pannier:

      It’s awesome, because it’s big enough for my laptop, change of clothes, workout clothes, lunch, wallet, book, etc – all at once. It’s also waterproof and structured, so the contents are a bit protected. I don’t bring my purse with me when I bike commute, but this is big enough that I probably could.

    • markymark :

      I bike to work daily (6 miles each way). I had been lusting over real European paniers and last spring bought them in Amsterdam. They run around 50 Euro or $50-$100 and are super great. They have huge openings and storage, lots of pockets, and are completely waterproof. I am able to carry purse, laptop, and gym bag. Though sometimes I just keep a purse at work and commute with my wallet. It is the rear saddle bag that lays over the rear rack.

      If you are in a city, you might be able to find them at a bike store that imports Dutch or Danish Bikes. For example, Copenhagen Cyclery in Chicago. They usually carry these accessories.

      • L from Oz :

        Ortlieb are very good generally – not cheap though. (Around here, most people seem to have the Bike-Packer or the Back-Roller.) They also fit a fair bit, and can be lugged around off-the-bike. No hiding the fact they’re bicycle panniers though, if that bothers you.

        I use a basket, but I’m commuting in Europe on an upright bike, so that’s pretty practical. I’m not sure that would work well at speed or on a serious road bike!

    • I bike commute with a TimBuk2 messenger bag. I prefer to have my bag on me though I know many people prefer the bad directly on the bike. I do not bring a separate purse.

    • along these lines, I would love any recommendations for bikes. I used to cycle commute in DC along the Custis Trail with a nice Diamondback ladies mtn bike. Then I moved to NYC and wanted something I could carry more easily to my top floor walkup apt. I got a Kona Smoke, which is a totally decent bike but I hate it. It just doesn’t feel right and nowhere as sturdy as the mtn bike. I now try to commute in suburban NJ, where NO ONE even notices bikes and it feels very dangerous. Not that the bike will help there but I feel super wobbly on my Kona, which adds to my nervousness. In my posh little suburb, you see families out for a ride on the sidewalks because the streets are littered with thoughtless SUVs whose drivers are wayyyy too distracted by their e-devices to notice cyclists. Rant over. Oh, delta double pannier bags are awesome for cycle commuting and I also swear by the Timbuk2 single pannier tote for errands…

      • bike recs :

        How much do you want to spend? cyclocross bikes are great for commuting (very fast and durable, also can carry the heavier loads of a rider who has laptop+clothes) but the good ones are not inexpensive.

        check out the specialized tricross comp double–comes in a frame size of 49 and up.

        My BF has the bike above rides ~25 urban miles a day, and the bike has made it through several bad pothole crashes and being hit by one of those SUVs you mention. may be worth checking out if you want to see lots of comparisons on women’s bikes.

        • Nice! exactly the kind of input I needed! yes team estrogen is a fave, their stuff is addictive :) THANKS!!!!

        • THANK YOU! exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for!! :)

      • Felt Cafe 24 Deluxe W!
        I’m a wimp, so I like a lot of gears, but it comes in 8 and 7 gears too, if you live in a flatter area. Or are stronger than me, which isn’t hard.

        • thank you! (almost never comment because my comments either don’t load or take forever to load… and then I end up giving up and posting 2x GAH!!!)

    • Thanks everyone! I’ll have to check all of these out and hopefully pick one up this weekend.

    • North Shore :

      Ooh, I’m obsessed with bicycle accessories since buying the bike of my dreams this spring (a hot pick cruiser bicycle, with high handlebars, fenders, and whitewall tires — love!). So far, I have a Nantucket handlebar basket, and a basket liner that’s a cloth shopping bag when you take it out. I’m looking to upgrade my ugly black panniers. So far, I’ve been eying the Basil Mirte bags (see on Amazon), but they kind of clash with my bicycle. Did you see the bicycle accessory article in the Wall St Journal last week? Kate Spade has a handbag designed to hang on your handlebars, and Coach is coming out with something this summer like that.

    • Mpls Lawyer :

      I have found your last thought works well for me – leave a purse at work, and bring the key contents (wallet, keys, iPhone) back and forth. I also commute to work with all my stuff (including my suit for the day) in a backpack, and change 100% of my clothes when I get there. Good luck, I love biking to work!

  12. I always used to work out before work.

    First, I put out my exercise clothes before I went to sleep. This allowed me to step into them while still half asleep, only to wake up like, “Huh! I’m at the gym.” Second, I used a Nike gym bag. I liked the separate compartment for shoes and sweaty socks:). I drove to work, so could just leave the bag in the back of the car subsequently. All makeup stayed in my purse, so nothing melted in the midday heat. Kept my round brush in my purse as well, and used it for drying. I always showered – would not ever have gone to the office without so doing – and always washed my hair. I used the gym body wash – it was a fairly nice place, with personal trainers etc, and the quality was acceptable. So I only had to pack my work clothes, flip flops, (good call, Kat) hair accessories, shampoo/conditioner, and face products, i.e. moisturizer, serums, etc. I am too picky to have used their shampoo/conditioner/moisturizer, although it was provided. And I never shaved at the gym – saved that for days at home.

  13. Currently I use a diaper bag- it has tons of compartments and an area for wet clothes. I usually work out before work or at lunch, my bag includes- flip flops, towel, a cosmetic bag with basic stuff- concealer, powder, mini cheek & lip stain, perfume, highlighter (I use the mini sample stuff that you get at Sephora or travel sizes), comb, dry shampoo, and deodorant. I also make sure I have a “wet” kit in case I need a full shower-razor, lotion, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, and a mini face cleanser/moisturizer. It’s kind of a hassle, but worth it. You don’t want to forget something essential. Oh, and I ALWAYS pack it the night before.

  14. I go to the gym before work about three days a week (it was impossible at first but now I can’t imagine fitting it in any other time!) So my gym bag process is on the fully equipped, time-efficient side.

    I use an open-top tote bag as my gym bag so that stuff can air out a bit during the day (it doesn’t smell up my office or anything). I just toss it in the same load of laundry as my gym clothes (adding a half cup or so of baking soda to help counteract the fact that when you work out before work, your stinky clothes are stuck in a bag for the rest of the day!)

    I have a basic makeup routine (undereye concealer, mineral makeup, eyeshadow, mascara, blush, eyebrow filler) and two travel-size hair products, so that I just move the same one makeup bag back and forth between the bag on gym days and my vanity on non-gym days. I usually wash my hair every other day, and always after working out, unless I’m just doing yoga, which works fine bc the locker rooms at my gym are really well equipped. Which leads me to a hint: if you have any ambition for before-work workouts, definitely insist on comfy locker rooms, decent shampoo/conditioner/shower gel, and functional hair dryers! Otherwise the logistics are just too daunting.

    To eliminate the chances that I’ll flake out and go back to sleep, the night before I set out my gym clothes, pack my bag, and even pack my lunch (storing in the fridge) if I’m taking leftovers for lunch. No excuses that way.

    The gym bag contains: flip flops, extra razor and mini face wash, travel size Downy wrinkle releaser, extra gym ID card, makeup bag, brush and comb, extra deodorant or two, and my travel jewelry pouch loaded with the day’s sparkles. Then I either neatly fold non-wrinkle-prone clothes on top, or else I take something that’s just come back from the dry cleaner’s so I can just take it on the hanger and dispose of the wrappings at the gym. I don’t carry extra underwear in the bag only because there is a CVS across the street that I can run to in case I forget underwear (yes, it’s happened).

    Oh, and I try to keep my gym tote bags to a reasonable size and a dark plain color, since they get hauled to work all the time.

  15. I have a backpack from race loot that has a place for sneakers in a separate zippered part at the base of the bag – this keeps my smelly/sweaty/muddy shoes away from my clothes. I stick my running watch and maybe my belt (holds keys, id, cash, etc) in there too, usually. Clothes go in the bag part. I commute by car, but even getting to and from my office it’s convenient to have the backpack instead of another shoulder bag. I usually put my lunch in the backpack, too, so I only hold the backpack and my purse instead of being a bag lady.

  16. Anonymous :

    Five years ago, I moved into a condo with a full gym (treadmill, bicycle, elliptical, freeweights, benches, and mirros). I save $ on a gym membership, and don’t have to worry about packing a gym bag. It is the easiest thing in the world to roll out of bed at 5am and take the elevator down to the gym, then go back upstairs and do my grooming routine in my own bathroom!

    Although all Corporettes may not be in the position to move in order to accomidate their workout schedule, if you have to find a new home anyway, this is something to keep in mind.

    • I completely agree, although I would add that a gym a block away isn’t so bad either. I used to have a gym in my building and loved it, but now my gym is a block away and I still go fairly often. Last year, however, my gym was a 15 minute DRIVE away. And guess how often I went? Hardly ever.

    • I thought about joining the gym in my building, but I really love going to the spin/yoga classes.

  17. I absolutely recommend a black Longchamp bag as a gym bag — I use it everyday. It’s the perfect size, easy to clean, and very durable. Most importantly, it doesn’t look like a gym bag and is not obnoxious when I run into people going to the gym.

    I carry a large Clinque make up bag filled with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face soap in travel containers. My gym has blow-dryers and deoderant, which is great so I don’t have to carry those.

  18. I also ALWAYS keep a bag of hair pins. I don’t know about you girls, but I can’t stand to have pieces of hair falling in my face when I’m running or in the zone in zumba class. :) I’ll usually pack a small can of hairspray, especially for a workout before work in case my hair can’t be worn down due to that oh-so-aggravating pony-tail indention. That way, I can slick my hair back into a cute bun for work and spray down the fly-aways.

  19. Lithe method :

    Speaking of gyms, has anyone tried the Lithe Method? Not sure if it’s only in Philly. I went to a class recently and LOVED it, although it totally wiped me out and left my legs shaking. It’s a great mix of yoga/pilates/strength resistance training/and some cardio.

  20. Valleygirl :

    Any suggestions for dealing with heat rash? I’m having a bad case where the underside/bottom of my bra touches the skin (it’s really making me want to go sans bra for the day but that’s not an option…). I’ve tried goldbond baby powder which helped a little and cortizon cream over night… have also been switching up my bras including wearing one of the playtex “let your boobs feel the air” bras… but it’s just really aggravating…

    • Neosporin is the only thing that has ever worked for me. That stuff works wonders. Also, if it really hurts, put a thin cotton cami on first, then your bra and switch up the style (if you can) to prevent further rubbing.

    • BODYGLIDE!! Both for when you’re working out to avoid the rash and after to keep your bra from chafing the spot again. You can pick it up at any sports store and it’s great for any chafing – sports bra, new heels, an annoying tag, etc. It is shaped like a stick of deodorant and comes in a couple of sizes. I always keep a mini size in my purse for emergencies!

    • Use body powder (I like Shower to Shower) to keep dry and cool and BodyGlide to prevent chafing.

    • Preventive: body glide
      Restorative: aloe Vera gel

  21. I have this very cheap Target gym bag:

    It has a separate shoe pocket.

    I keep my gym bag under my desk. I have 6 different workout tops, with built-in bras and 3 skorts. About once a week I bring various clothing items home to wash.

    Other than clothes, I keep a hairbrush, lock, water bottle, deodorant, earphones (for the machines) and hair elastics.

    I mostly go to gym classes. When I use the treadmill, I bring my kindle, but I don’t keep that in my gym bag.

    • Anonymous :

      Forgive me if I’m reading your post incorrectly, but does that mean that your worn gym clothes stay in your under-desk gym bag for several days until you bring things home to wash?

      • Agreed. Perhaps the gym-bag is plastic-lined, so that when it is zipped closed, it retains the smells.

        Unfortunately, if it is true about retaining the smells, it probabley also retains all the moisture from the sweaty clothing (and socks and sneakers), so that when it is unzipped, it is tres malodorous to say the least!

        I would recommend adding a large can of Lysol.

      • I can’t say whether Bunkster meant that or not, though it looks like she did, but just wanted to say I do the same thing. I can’t be bothered to take stuff home every day and it’s not going to hurt the clean stuff to touch the dirty stuff for a day or two. After all, it’s only sweat, and it’s mine, no-one else’s. No biggy. But maybe I sweat less than other people (though I don’t think so).

      • Fooey!

        Would not this would smell really bad? If I did this my new BF would object. He wants me to be fresh and clean at ALL times.

  22. Does anyone run to/from work? I’ve been thinking about doing that as a way to get in miles, but am trying to figure out logistics…I have access to a shower/locker room at the office. And can take public transportation if I don’t want to run both ways. But I still have my purse/wallet to deal with (and possibly clothes, though I could always bring those in one day and use them the next).

    Does anyone run with a backpack?

    • I run home from work a lot. I don’t know if this would work for you, but I basically pare down what I need for the evening and my commute in the morning down to the very basics (subway card, debit card, building ID, and driver’s license, and maybe $20 in cash) and put that all in my shorts pocket. I have an iPhone, so I strap that to my arm in an arm band, and I tie my house key to my shoe. You’d be surprised at how little you actually need out of your wallet for just the evening and morning commute.

      I love running home because the time I would have spent commuting is spent running instead and it’s a really nice break from the office to home. Now I’m wishing I had my running clothes here today!

      • Thanks so much for the advice! You’re probably right – I’m probably way overthinking what I need to go home (and back to the office in the a.m.)…and since I have a locking drawer in my office, I can certainly leave at the office what I don’t need…

        I’ve sort of been thinking the same about commute time – it usually takes me about 30 minutes door to door to commute. And I think I could run it in 35-40 min…

        • Consultant :

          I’m reading a book about Women runners and it recommends you can bike to work one way and run to work the other. That way you mix it up and can carry some of your necessities on the bike.

    • I read once that men should carry weight on their shoulders, but women on our hips (and I have back problems anyway) so I got a pack that goes around the waist. I really like it! It’s big enough for my kindle, wallet, bberry and a sweatshirt, and has a water bottle pouch on the side.It fits snugly in the small of my back and the thick strap around my waist really keeps it from bouncing. I can’t remember the brand off the top of my head but I got it on amazon.

    • I knew someone who did this. About once a week they would do a non-running commute and transport supplies (change of clothing, etc) to and from work. I think it took some planning, but it probably gets easier with practice.

    • I wear a string pack in the summer because it’s just too hot to go out without water at this point. I see a lot of other women who run with the belts, but then I’d have to fill up two water bottles instead of one.

    • In-House Mouse :

      I run with a small backpack that is actually a mid-sized hydration pack with the water pouch removed. It is just large enough to fit a change of clothes, a pair of shoes (I have small feet), and a very pared-down toiletry bag. The backpack is narrow enough that my elbows don’t hit the sides, and the hip belt and chest clip keep the backpack from bouncing too much. I always keep a house key on the backpack’s built-in key clip so I don’t have to remember to pack my keys.

      I also have a space behind my desk where my wet towel and sweaty clothes can surreptitiously dry during the day. If I start out with clean running clothes, they don’t really smell once the sweat dries.

      Could you leave your work shoes and shower stuff at work?

      • Definitely – I have an office and a locker in the locker room. I usually have several pairs of shoes stashed in a drawer anyway b/c I rarely commute in my “work” shoes.

        That’s a good idea about the hydration pack. I do have a camelbak and for this run, I could remove the hydration pouch…

  23. LinLondon :

    I work out in the afternoons 3x a week and then I use a cotton tote, just with sneakers/bra/capris/tank top, then I go home in sweaty gym clothes (sorry fellow commuters) and shower there. I go in the morning 2 days a week and bring a large leather tote to fit shower stuff. I finally got around to decanting face wash, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash into the little travel size bottles you get at the drugstore, so I keep those in a little ziploc bag and refill as needed. I pack work clothes in a Gap bag (like, the store’s shopping bag) and stick my towel in. If I need to dry my hair, I pack my round brush and occasionally my straightening iron. My shower day gym bag is pretty darn cumbersome.

  24. I keep just about the same set of toiletries in my gym bag that I keep in my carry on bag for plane travel. I use Pitotubes/a>, but Go Toobs are also great. Packing gym bag toiletries like plane toiletries means less weight and less likelihood of a mess.

  25. I am a huge fan of Le Sportsac. If mine gets dirty, I just throw it in the wash and it looks like new. They have the best designs too (the “Artist in Residence” line, in particular).

  26. I work out a few times a week at the gym that’s in the same building as my office. The gym provides workout gear (ugly, but functional) so that cuts down on the things that I have to take to the gym; they also provide towels.

    My gym bag -Black Stella for Adidas with lots of pockets- sits under my desk at work, and has everything that I need for a workout and post-workout if I need to go to the office (I sometimes gym after work, but before conference calls).

    The stuff I have in my gym bag:
    Sneakers/socks -in a bag
    Sports bra -in a bag
    Little pouch with hair ties/clips (I need a ton of these, cos they’re always getting lost)
    Ipod nano/arm-band/earphones (to watch TV!)
    Shower pouch: shampoo/conditioner/body wash/face cleanser
    Makeup pouch: specifically for the gym -I bought doubles of all my favourite makeup/brushes/tools, good for travel too!
    Post-shower pouch: skincare, body lotion, deodorant, perfume, kerastase thermique (important if I need to dry my hair!)

    I know that’s a lot of stuff, but I can be scatty, and I’ve been caught in the gym without some essential or another, so I figured I’d just get everything I could possibly need just once, and then forget about it. That also lessens the hassle of moving stuff in and out of my gym bag. Except for socks/sports bra of course, those need to be washed!

    After my workout, I grab the shower bag. After shower, I grab makeup pouch & post-shower pouch. Ok typing that all out makes me feel pretty anal-retentive, but if it helps anybody then yay!

  27. YYZ Reader :

    What about when you go to the gym before work early in the morning and you have to carry your laptop bag? Curious is anyone out there has the same issue – I have not figured out a way to solve that yet and currently carry multiple bags which kills my back!

    • My BF had the same issue. Now he takes two weeks of shorts and shirts in his gym bag on a Monday and leaves it under his desk. If his shirts get way gross he stuffs them in a plastic bag and bring it home in a plastic bag. Otherwise he brings it home every two weeks.

  28. Just reading these posts makes me anxious. I try to go to the gym and shower at home. It’s too much of a hassle to worry about carrying all that stuff, and being fearful of a spill. I also found that I could never get away for long enough for a mid-day workout to be worth it. When I added dressing time and time to walk back to the office it was taking too long.


    Scout bags are all water resistant and are perfect for the gym, laundry… anything you can think of! I use this for a weekend bag but it would be adorable as a stylish gym bag. Inside zip pocket for essentials.