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A stylish grown-up backpack to take you from the gym, to the office, to your night out. (Amanda Shapin)

Gym bag essentials to get you from the locker room to the office

Busy D.C. schedules leave little time to spare. Often the only time you can squeeze a workout in is early in the morning, right before you’re headed to work. And those precious early morning moments might mean you have to get ready for work at the gym. With proper prep and the right gear, you'll be feeling your freshest, even if you feel like you're living out of a gym bag.

First, invest in the right bag. If you bring a laptop to work, find a bag with a separate padded pocket and ensure the bag is waterproof. Ample pockets and zippers will help keep all your gear safe and in place. If you tend to pack a very heavy bag, protect your back and consider a backpack for a more comfortable commute. Gym bags getting high marks for style, comfort and function include the Sweaty Betty All Sport Tote & All Sport Backpack (both nail the athleisure look that’s good for everything from the gym, to work, to after work plans), Lululemon’s Run All Day Backpack (so compact you can literally run to work with this bag, ideal for lighter loads) and the Lo & Sons O.G. (lightweight and doubles as the perfect weekender bag).

Before you book your morning workout class, do research on the gym amenities. If you’re on ClassPass, amenities are listed on the gym info pages, but be weary, it might not tell a full story. A gym may list that they have showers, but that might mean they have one shower. If you’re rushing to work after a packed class, that one shower won’t get you out the door on time. Call ahead and get the details on how many showers, what the morning rush is typically like, and what products are on-hand. Not having to pack your own shampoo, conditioner and body wash will lighten your load.

Gyms that offer high-end amenities you can count on include Equinox, with spa-like locker rooms full of Kiehl’s products, CorePower Yoga, with spacious changing rooms and showers and Flywheel, featuring relaxing showers and plenty of get-ready space.

Even with the most luxurious locker room, you’ll still need a well-packed bag to successfully get you through your day. Carefully pack your gym bag the night before, no early morning rushing necessary. Go through your outfit and make sure you didn’t forget any essentials. Got your outfit all set? Here are the rest of the items to have on hand to get you ready and on your way, no time wasted.

  1. Dry Shampoo: Slightly dirty hair is often the best looking and is easier to style than newly washed hair. Combat grease and keep your mane smelling fresh with Alterna Haircare Cleanse Extend Translucent Dry Shampoo. It will save you tons of prep time and you’ll avoid getting to the office with dripping hair.
  2. Body & Face Wipes: Showering is always recommended, but as a backup in the event that a surprise early morning meeting got added to your calendar, or perhaps the gym’s showers aren't functioning, ShowerPill is your next best bet. A clean face is also a must after a sweaty workout. It’s good for your skin of course, but will also give you an instantly refreshed feeling; get that feeling with Simple Cleansing Wipes.
  3. Post-Workout Snack: Always have a small snack in your bag to stabilize your energy levels post-workout for a productive morning at the office. Pack a bar (Health Warrior Chia Bars at 100 calories a piece and RXBars with 12 grams of protein are great options) or pre-mix a smoothie and bring it in a BlenderBottle. These leak-proof bottles come with a BlenderBall wire whisk that keeps your drink's consistency smooth, even if it’s been sitting in your bag all morning.
  4. Mini-Emergency Bag: Keep key items stashed at the bottom of your bag, one day it will come in handy. Include backup hair bands (yes, your hairband will eventually snap at an inopportune time), tampons, band aids, pain reliever, bobby pins, and safety pins.

Now that you're all set to go, your morning prep at the gym may just be the smoothest part of your day.