Friday 22 November 2019

10 things to always have in your gym bag

Freya Drohan

Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail! There's never enough hours in the day to get everything done, so sometimes you must be willing to lug your gym bag around with you if you want to squeeze in a workout.

Between long hours at work, commuting, and trying to hold on to some form of social life - we are often pulled in every direction. When we get increasingly busy, trying to fit in physical activity can often get put on the back burner.

This is something that personal trainer and fitness blogger Siobhan O'Hagan knows only too well. 

While working full time, she made the decision to give up her career in finance and re-train as a personal trainer. This meant getting up at 5am to do her own workout before travelling to work, and going to college after a full day in the office, meaning she routinely didn’t arrive back in her front door until after 11pm. Therefore she knows a thing or two about how vital it is to be fully prepared for the day’s tasks.

"The most important thing in planning what to pack is to walk through your day in your head and plan every small detail,” she says.

When I was going from the gym, to work, to the gym again and to college, it was so important to make sure I had all my food and clothes packed. Nothing worse than forgetting a clean pair of socks! So I used to picture getting ready for work after the gym and put it in my bag, then think of what I am going to eat then and make sure that is ready too. It sounds like a lot of work but it makes your busy days easier when you are better prepared.”

The effort certainly paid off for Siobhan, who can be found on Instagram @OHFitness_ie, as she now regularly collaborates with fitness brands thanks to her refreshing and honest approach to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She also works as a personal trainer at Evolution Fitness in Kinsealy, Co Dublin.

Inspired by Siobhan, here is the definitive list of what to include in your gym arsenal.

1. Hydration

When regular tap water refilled at the cooler in the gym isn't tickling your fancy, hydrate yourself naturally and replenish lost electrolytes with coconut water. Innocent coconut water is the market's first option to come without sweeteners meaning it is 100 percent pure. Low in calories, high in potassium and fat-free, it is a great alternative to sugar-laden sports and energy drinks.



(€2.99 for 500ml, nationwide.)

2. Hygiene

This goes without saying - no-one wants to sit next to someone for the day who looks and smells as if they've got a good sweat session in. While it isn't practical to cart the entire bathroom cabinet around with you, at least pack a deodorant, a hairbrush/comb and clean change of clothes - or prepare to always sit alone on the bus.

sure shower fresh.png

(Sure Shower Fresh deodorant, €2.50, stockists nationwide)

3. Hair

For the busy female squeezing in early morning exercise before work, dry shampoo is an essential addition to your kit. Spritz on the hair line and toussle into your locks to disguise a multitude of sins. For the male on the go, chose a malleable product that you're able to work with and that is easy to wash out or restyle if you are in a rush.


(Tresemme Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo, €3.24, stockists nationwide.)


(Vo5 Extreme Style Freeze Spray, €5.29, stockists nationwide.)

4. Skin

Keep skin fresh and clean when hitting the gym, to avoid clogged pores and blackheads forming. If you're opting for wipes, make sure you chose a non-drying variety with no artificial perfumes or fragrances.

simple kind to skin micellar.png

(Simple Micellar Cleansing Wipes, €3.78, stockists nationwide.)

5. Hands

Lifting heavy weights can leave your hands with dreaded callouses and rough, cracked skin. You can pick up a pair of weight-lifting gloves relatively cheap if any sports store, but they don't always have the best grip. Instead, combat dryness by leaving a nourishing hand cream in your bag and lather it on after a session. Nuxe Creme Mains et Ongles is a rich hand and nail cream that incorporates honey, sunflower oils and Vitamin E to leave hands smooth and soft.


(€12.75 for 75ml, stockists nationwide.)

6. Tupperwear

There's nothing glamorous about lugging around your meals in plastic boxes, but it's a necessary evil if you want to ensure your diet stays as clean and nutritious as possible. Stash a mini soy sauce, hot sauce or liquid aminos in your bag too and you'll be good to go.


Image by @OHFitness_ie

8.30 asos happy jackson.jpg

(Lunchbox by Happy Jackson via, €8.30.)

7. Protein

Protein is arguably the most essential component in our diet, particularly so if you have a high energy output. If you're not fuelling your workouts efficiently, you will become burnt out, and similarly your body will not repair itself if you don't replenish your energy after an exercise. Ideally, you will obtain your protein from natural sources - think hard boiled eggs, lean meats and fish, nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt and legumes.

On hectic days, protein bars are a good way to up your intake in a low-sugar, low-carb way. The better options include Quest bars and Combat Crunch - ask at your local sports nutrition store for advice.


Image by @OHFitness_ie - convenient snacks from Body First Nutrition, Clontarf and Malahide.

For more information on protein: Freya Drohan: What are the pros of taking protein (for women)
For more information on supplements: Ask the expert: From amino acids to creatine - what’s the story with all these sports supplements?

8. Snacks

In a perfect world, we’d have prepared our meals for the week and baked homemade protein treats ready for the 3pm slump. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case, but thankfully there’s an increasing number of smarter snacks becoming available on the Irish market. Some of my favourite (in moderation) include Propercorn (a low calorie but high taste gluten-free popcorn), wow!bab organic cereal bars (packed with nutritious baobab and vitamin C), organic raw chocolate goji berries from any good health store or a pouch of new Irish product Boost Bites.


(€1.20, selected Dunnes, Tesco, Fresh and Centra outlets nationwide.)


(€1.50, selected health stores nationwide.)


(€10.25, selected health stores nationwide.)

9. Performance Equipment

Penneys has really stepped up to the mark in the last few seasons when it comes to fitness wear and equipment. Among its range are really handy additions to your fitness regime such as jump and speed ropes, ankle/wrist weights, yoga mats, microfibre towels and exercise balls. (Prices from €3.)

6 euro penneys 11.jpg
€5 penneys.jpg


10. Post-Exercise

If you're putting in the work at the gym, remember to keep your skin hydrated. If your goal is fat loss, it is increasingly important to moisturise routinely to prevent stretch marks and sagging skin. Other great products to include are a relaxing shower gel, such as Radox' Muscle Soak shower gel and Nib + Fab's invigorating moisturisers specifically formulated to promote firmness and elasticity.


(€1.40, selected stockists nationwide.)


(€13.49, selected stockists nationwide.)

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Life