3 Women Share Their Gym Bag Essentials

What do you have hidden in the depths of your gym bag?
I'd tell you what's in mine but there's nothing interesting about a half-eaten nut bar and a bundle of odd socks and hairbands. Chances are, your gym bag reads similarly to mine. But if you're actually an organised, together sort of person, the contents might have a little more decorum about them.
To learn the way of an organised gym bag, we spoke to three women for whom exercise is a big part of life and they kindly agreed to let us take a look at what they carry around. And guess what? It's a little more exciting than odd socks.
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Read on to find out about their essentials...
Lucy Williams is a full-time blogger, writer and brand consultant who has been in the fashion industry for six years. Her exercise routine is about boosting her mood and feeling more proactive.
What kind of workout clothes do you like to wear?
I always wear a hoodie like this grey one if I’m going to the gym or a class because I can just chuck it on. I like being really comfy! Also I like a hood if I’ve got slightly greasy hair.
I’m not a bright-colour person in the gym, I like everything to be black or grey so these leggings, which are sheer along the calf area, are really cool. They’re the kind of thing you can wear for a coffee or if you need to go to the supermarket afterwards; you just look like you’re wearing your normal clothes.
I never wear T-shirts because I often end up feeling too hot so I like the black and grey vest top.
I like the sort of trainer that looks good outside of the gym as well – these khaki ones are the kind of thing I would wear anyway with jeans. Plus, they're from the Parley range which means they're made from recycled plastic.
What kind of workouts do you like to do?
If I do end up going to the gym I’m normally an uphill power-walker on the treadmill – I really love walking. If I can get out and about in the countryside that’s what I like to do for exercise. If I’m not doing that I’m doing mat work, squats… I like HIIT too because I’ve always had terrible stamina, so I like a 20-minute fast and furious workout – even if it’s at home or in my back garden, because you don’t need loads of equipment.
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I think boxing is great when I’m really stressed, too, and I’ve done yoga on and off for probably 10 years. Every time I do it I wonder why I don’t do it every day! There are so many types of yoga depending on your mood, so I do love it for that.
What’s your routine like?
For me it’s a real ad hoc thing, I’m never able to stick to a routine but I try to properly work out once or twice a week. If I go to the gym or class once a week I try to do yoga at home or go on a hike.
So what essentials do you always have in your gym bag?
I know it’s boring but I always have my water bottle! Preferably a non-plastic silicon-free kind, so I would go for a metal one. And then I physically cannot be in the gym without headphones and music. If I’ve forgotten my headphones, I’ll turn around and go home!
I always like having some kind of face mist too, because when I’m red after the gym it's a nice way to feel a little fresher and cool down before heading home to shower.
Do you have any snacks or fruit or bars before you start?
I tend to always have a banana before I start because I can’t work out if I’m hungry! If not before, I’ll have it afterwards.
Are there any other beauty pieces you always carry with you?
I normally do classes in the afternoon or end of the day (I'm not much of a morning person) so I tend to just scrape my hair back and forget about it. But having some dry shampoo and a Tangle Teaser with me always helps if I do need to head out afterwards and don't have time to wash my hair.
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Also, a bit of a luxury is a really nice hand cream. If you’ve been using machines it can be a bit gross so it really helps you feel a bit fresher afterwards.
Sarah Raphael is the editorial director of Refinery29 UK and a run enthusiast. She's written previously about why incline running is important and interviewed Olympians on how to improve your running technique.
What do you like to wear to work out in?
In my day-to-day life, I tend to wear all black but I go as bright as possible when I’m running because I run across roads and mostly in the evening, so it’s important to be visible. I usually wear a brightly coloured top/vest and sports bra, then darker bottoms so it’s not too '80s disco. I’m already a very hot person, and I get extremely hot and sweaty working out, so I usually go for shorts and I love the colour of these. I ran up Lombard Street (a 27 degree incline) in San Francisco in these trainers! I’ve always run in UltraBOOST, they last for years and are incredibly light, quite literally putting a spring in my step with the bouncy sole.
What’s your workout routine like?
I run 5k, twice a week. My route takes me over Southwark Bridge, down the stairs and along the Embankment, then I charge up the stairs to St Paul’s, then back over Millennium Bridge, around the back of the Tate Modern, then home – I love it! I’m not much of a morning person, so I usually run after work because I have more energy then. After a stressful day when my adrenaline is high, I sometimes go the extra distance to 10k – for this I go over Blackfriars Bridge and down the Embankment to St James’ Park and up to Buckingham Palace and around Green Park, then back over Westminster Bridge. The light is so beautiful there around 8pm, and I’m always stopping on the bridges to take little videos of the light hitting the Thames.
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Then some Saturday afternoons I go to a hip hop dance class in Elephant & Castle which makes me happier than anything else in life, and then – in theory – yoga on a Monday morning before work to balance myself for the week and set intentions and all that jazz – and when I make it, I feel great, but often my desire to stay in bed is more powerful than the balance and intentions…
What are the essentials that you always carry with you in your gym bag?
I have loads of running playlists or if I’m going for a longer run, I’ll listen to a podcast – preferably one interviewing an athlete like Jessica Ennis-Hill for extra motivation! I like smaller, compact headphones for working out as the big ones feel too heavy. These are great for noise cancelling.
I always run with a running belt as I always have things to carry – like my bank card to do food shopping on the way back – and I prefer a belt to an arm band as arm bands make me feel a bit lopsided.
I’m trying not to buy plastic bottles because at the rate we’re consuming plastic, the oceans are going to have more plastic in them than fish by 2050. So if I’m going to a class I’ll take a metal one with me and fill up in the gym.
What about beauty items?
I get really dry lips when I'm running, so always put some balm on if it’s a long run. My skin is sensitive and it stings when I wash it after sweating, so I need an ultra gentle cleanser and the same goes for my moisturiser!
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Freddie Harrel is a blogger and the founder of SHE Unleashed, which runs confidence workshops and talks, and Big Hair No Care, which makes ethical clip-in extensions and wigs. Freddie finds that exercise and feeling stronger helps her to achieve her professional goals.
What's your fitness routine like?
I just moved back to London – I had no house and I’m opening a shop, so I haven’t had a proper routine recently but my ideal routine is the gym. I like doing core work and I like the cross trainer, too, it’s my favourite. It works everything – the arms, legs and core! And also it feels like you’re running but you’re not. I like everything that has to do with legs and thighs!
I would like to get into more yoga, too. I have discovered it recently because I went on an amazing weekend retreat with lots of yoga and it was the first time it was explained and really made sense to me.
So when do you like to work out?
I’m trying to go early so I can go back home to look after my son, then get ready to go to work, so morning is a good time to squeeze it in because it sets you up for the day. If I work and go in the evening, I couldn’t see my son because he goes to bed at around 7.
What do you like to wear to the gym?
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I like these leggings, the hoodie and the top and trainers. I love leggings, especially now they’re made closer to the skin. They feel so comfy and you’re so tucked in because of the fabric. They make you feel more aerodynamic! I like to go to the gym in my kit so that’s when I would wear the hoodie and loose top. I really love bralettes and I’ll wear it with a top over it like this one if I want to be able to cover up.
I also like shorts when I’m doing a leg workout because you can see your leg muscles as you work – it’s encouraging!
Do you like wearing bright colours to work out in?
Yes, I love bright colours! This burgundy set is my favourite because it can still be paired with other things. I like it with my skin tone, too.
What do you typically carry in your gym bag?
I always have a bottle and I discovered recently that I prefer a glass bottle with something silicon around it for grip. And definitely headphones for music or if I’m watching something! I like the big ones, they have some weight but they look cooler as well.
I like to use a water spray, too. Evian does one which helps you keep cool when you’re working out. It’s so nice.
Are there any other beauty pieces you always have with you?
Definitely a body lotion after I have my shower. I need to moisturise. I really love Mixa because I like thick creams. Anything that says it repairs – I’m buying it! I’m a serum freak, too, so I put that on after I’ve showered.
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