You don’t overlook a major muscle group, so why not give the same attention to your gym bag? A well stocked gym bag makes your entire workout experience better, for you and others nearby. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about packing for a European vacation. We’ve just got some helpful reminders to put together a complete gym bag. Consider it your guide to filling your manly purse.

The Bag

Nearly as important as the items you pack is the bag you carry them with. The keys to a solid tote are pockets and transportability. Pockets make you efficient and sanitary, so you can easily find your keys and keep your toothbrush away from your sweaty jockstrap. Look for a bag that features a shoe specific compartment as well. This helps protect your work shoes from scuffs and scrapes and keeps your muddy running shoes from dirtying up the entire bag. Dragging your bag from the office to the gym should not be the most difficult part of your workout. You need enough space to store everything, but compactness to actually fit inside your locker. We like the OGIO Locker Bag. Its slim design fits perfect in most lockers and offers logical storage for valuables, shoes and shampoo, even coming with empty toiletry containers.

The Clothes 

It is 2010 and your wardrobe should reflect this. Any wares in your current rotation acquired in the previous century should be immediately disposed of, actually make that prior to 2005. Workout gear is disgusting and after a certain number of sweat soaked hours, those stains and smells will not come out in the wash. Also, avoid short-shorts, knee-high socks and headbands. Items with holes are not allowed. Why do men leave the office in $2000 suit only to emerge from the locker room in a $7 outfit? Hit up your local sports store and purchase some athletic ware from Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, Russel, etc. Their workout gear is specifically designed to move with your body and keep you an appropriate temp. Plus you may look good enough to catch the eye of the co-ed on the elliptical.

The Accessories

There are several small items that no trip to the gym should be without. First, your music. Studies have shown that listening to music can help increase the intensity of workouts (see Rammstein). It also allows you to politely ignore chatty gym patrons. Sony makes a self-contained mp3 player in the form of wrap around headphones. It can easily fit as many songs as you could go through in a week of workouts and there are not wires to get caught on equipment. Don’t forget your own towel, as well. This is mostly a courtesy to your fellow gym mates. Nobody likes sitting in another person’s sweat. And since you are sweating, include a full water bottle in your pack; you’ll avoid stopping your routine to find the water fountain. Finally, consider workout aids your gym might not provide, like resistance bands. These stretchy bands are simple to pack and help mix up your program, working your muscles in different ways.

The Toiletries

Returning to work from the gym in wrinkled clothes sporting a funky odor is not a right you have earned, no matter how difficult the workout. You might feel you are advertising your athleticism, but actually are illustrating a lack of hygiene and professionalism. Buy an extra set of Old Spice Bodywash and deodorant (if you want to smell like the man your woman wishes you were) and always keep them in your gym pack. Cologne and hair gel should be included as well. Even if it is just a quick run at lunch, rinse your hair and spritz yourself. Also, bring a hanger to hold your work clothes. You don’t want to head into that big meeting looking like you slept in your dockers last night. You work hard to look good, why ruin it by skipping clean-up? You’re a man, it only takes 5 minutes.