Fashion Beauty Lookbook

What’s in my bag: gym essentials for those who like to pump iron

In this series, we have The Tempest staff members and fellows give you a glimpse of what they carry every day in various situations. This month, Now+ Beyond Editor, Sana Panjwani, gives you a glimpse inside her gym bag:

My gym bag has played host to a revolving door of various products and knick-knacks. And as I experimented with different workouts (and dealt with subsequent injuries!), I’ve settled on a few essentials that I believe should be a staple in every gym bag.

Aside from the obvious – a phone, pads/tampons, gym shoes (Nike’s Air Max FTW) and the like – here are 13 things you’ll always find in my slightly-stinky-possibly-in-need-of-a-thorough-wash gym bag:

1. At least three extra hair ties because the first will snap, the second will disappear, and the third is the lucky survivor. 

A brunette woman stands with two hair ties in her hair.
[Image description: A brunette woman stands with two hair ties in her hair.] Via Amazon
I’m a hair clip person at heart but it barely holds my tresses on a normal day, let alone when I’m in the middle of a HIIT workout. I like to keep one hair band on my wrist and at least one other (if not more!) in my gym bag. My go-to hair “styles” is usually a super tight top knot or a super tight braid, and yes, my follicles do scream in protest.

Get an 8-pack from Amazon for $7.99.

2. An extra pair of socks!

Six single gray socks lined with different colors.
[Image description: Six single gray socks lined with different colors.] Via Amazon
Apparently, socks don’t only just disappear from my washing machine but from my gym bag too. I learned my lesson the day I had to workout in my gym shoes without socks. The chafing, dear God, the chafing! Skinning and sweat are not a combination anyone should let simmer.

Get a 6-pack from Amazon for $13.99.

3. A pair of weightlifting gloves because calluses are not fun.

A pair of black weightlifting gloves.
[Image description: A pair of black weightlifting gloves.] Via Amazon
I used to think they were an unnecessary cost but what price can you put on keeping your palms from being skinned? They also give a good grip on weights and provide wrist support which is great because it protects my many-a-time-sprained wrist from unnecessary tension.

Get it from Amazon for $19.95.

4. Head/earphones to a) distract/motivate and b) avoid talking to other humans.

A pair of peach-colored bluetooth earphones.
[Image description: A pair of peach-colored Bluetooth earphones.] Via Amazon
I switch between headphones and earphones depending on the day. If I’m working out in my hijab, headphones are much easier to use without making it look like I’m going to town on my ear under my scarf. Plus, visibly listening to music, an audiobook, a podcast, or anything, keeps me distracted enough to go the extra mile during a workout and keeps people from trying to talk to me – win-win.

Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

5. At least two bandage wraps because shit happens.

A 14-pack of bandage wrap.
[Image description: A 14-pack of bandage wrap.] Via Amazon
I had an extremely adventurous yoga teacher, and she exercised that spirit by asking beginners (read: me) to kick up into a handstand every now and then – for funsies. One kick too high and a sideways topple left my yoga mat neighbors cowering and me with a slight sprain. In between all the burpees, planks, and dynamic pushups, I’ve collected quite the collection of wrist support bandages.

Get a 14-pack from Amazon for $11.95.

6. And speaking of injuries, my biofreeze has kept me moving many a sore days.

A three-pack of biofreeze. It's a white bottle with green text on it.
[Image description: A three-pack of Biofreeze. It’s a white bottle with green text on it.] Via Amazon
Sure, sore muscles are great in a sense because it means you’re building muscle, but in the face of not being able to sit down on a toilet, it doesn’t seem all that comforting anymore. My friend and I stumbled (okay, yes, waddled) across this miracle spray after a rather gruelling leg day and it’s been really handy. Neck sprains, back aches, shoulders – you name it, I’ve sprayed it.

Get it from Amazon as a spray (two for $21.97), roll-on (two for $15.53), or patch ($8.98).

7. Heat from Tiger Balm for when the biofreeze is just a tad too strong.

An orange balm in a small glass container.
[Image description: An orange balm in a small glass container.] Via Amazon
There’s a time for cooling an injury and a time for heating it up. Trust me when I say it’s best to be prepared for both and you need to be careful which you use for which. Personally, with the kind of injuries I end up with, cold therapy works best for me but for minor aches and tightness, Tiger Balm does wonders. It’s been a staple in my house since childhood and I mostly turn to it for headaches and flus.

Get it from Amazon for $7.

8. Bandages for when my fingers inevitably get caught between weight plates or barbell collars. 

A white-and-green band-aid box.
[Image description: A white-and-green band-aid box.] Via Amazon
I just get injured… a lot. Call me clumsy but if you ever need a bandage, you know who to hit up. From skinning my hands to my ankles to getting my fingers caught in things, keeping a box of these on me is just good sense. Although, to be honest, I usually need one to cover up a shaving nick I notice after leaving the house.

Get it from Amazon for $6.99.

9. A pack of cleansing wipes to not be charged with nose assaults. 

Two blue-and-white packets of Fun Block shower wipes.
[Image description: Two blue-and-white packets of Fun Block shower wipes.] Via Amazon
I’m not big on showering in public places, so these keep me going until I’m in the comfort on my own tub. It doesn’t come close to the squeaky-cleanness a person gets from a shower but the wipes leave me fresh enough to be comfortable heading elsewhere after the gym too.

Get it from Amazon for $15.99.

10. Vanilla-scented body spray to further ensure nobody accidentally faints from my BO. 

A perfume spray bottle with yellow-gold liquid inside.
[Image description: A perfume spray bottle with yellow-gold liquid inside.] Via Amazon
Wipes + spray leaves Sana confident flowers won’t wilt in her presence. And I make liberal use of this spray because not only is the scent warm but it’s also subtle enough to not assault anyone’s senses. 

Get it from Amazon for $4.99.

11. A quick dry, microfiber towel over gym-provided ones for obvious sanitary reasons.

A green towel with gray lining in a mesh bag.
[Image description: A green towel with gray lining in a mesh bag.] Via Amazon
I’m not saying that gyms don’t properly wash their towels but I’m also not saying that they do. You never know what’s been wiped with a communal towel. Plus, there have been many times when I’ve walked into a gym to find that they either don’t provide towels or have run out for the day.

Get it from Amazon for $9.99.

12. A leakproof water bottle to keep myself from serious dehydration.

A purple water bottle.
[Image description: A purple water bottle.] Via Amazon
The act of refilling a water bottle can be tiresome at times so I prefer larger sizes just so I don’t have to keep track of refills. I easily guzzle down over 1L during a workout and the rest is good for repleneshing before and after.

Get a 2.2L from Amazon for $17.99 or a 1L one for $13.95.

13. Protein powder or a protein bar to actually make my workout count.

A white container of chocolate protein powder.
[Image description: A white container of chocolate protein powder.] Via Amazon
My body unfairly sheds muscle faster than fat so I try to introduce as much protein as possible. At the moment, I’m trying PhD’s Diet Whey but I’m planning to switching to a plant-based one soon. I usually get chocolate because it’s easier to introduce it as a substitute in sweeter meals like brownies or pancakes.

Get it from Amazon for $44.99.

What’s in your gym bag?