Athletic Bags

What Purse Do You Carry to the Gym?

Please tell me it isn't a Birkin...

Did you know the word “decade” can also refer to a period of ten days? And since elementary English taught us to use a new word in a sentence, that’s what I shall proceed to do now.
Hence, I fundamentally refuse to abandon my holiday spirit until a decade into January. In all honesty, perhaps the conventional definition of “decade” wouldn’t seem too out of place here. And while we are on the subject of holidays, let me also ask you, in true festive fashion, what is your new year’s resolution?

I know I’m probably the ninety-seventh person to bring up the subject. And you’d have to be superhuman if you hadn’t already begun scowling at everybody who asked this of you. But I promise I do have a point here.

You see, it is during January that fitness-related resolutions reach new heights. Gym memberships spike, and so does the sale of workout gear. Of course, there’s no denying that everyone is beautiful just the way they are; we have thankfully left *most* societal beauty standards long behind.

But being active does have its perks too. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself to give myself some workout motivation. And while my fitness attempts have been in the form of sporadic YouTube routines, this year, I’m hoping to begin something more structured and, hopefully, long-term.

It is here that the question of a gym bag presents itself.

The Ideal Gym Bag

I’ve succeeded as a handbag-lover if my first concern about going to the gym is not the workout itself but what purse I’m going to be toting there. Just kidding *chuckles nervously*.

The issue I’m facing, however, is not that there is a dearth of options for gym bags on the market, but that there isn’t one that is chic. Of course, there’s an abundance of fabric and canvas carryalls in every silhouette, from belt bags to weekenders. And from a purely practical standpoint, getting a regular gym bag makes sense. It’s breathable, washable, lightweight, and waterproof.

Burberry Nylon Backpack

But you only have to look at one of the numerous nylon versions (that are virtually everywhere) to realize that pretty much none of them look even remotely fashionable. And to those who proclaim that Nike makes it in pink, hence, it’s chic, I’m not sure I agree.

In fact, for someone who doesn’t live near a gym (mine is located at my university), the workout bag doubles as a daily carryall. Or perhaps, it’s really the other way around: I need a work/college bag that’s spacious and functional enough to drag to the gym. Either way, the ideal gym purse I have in mind can’t compromise style.

But Let’s Not Forget Functionality

Once we’ve established that design is crucial to determining our choice of a gym bag, it is now time to consider other factors that may have some (read: a lot of) bearing on our decision. And one of the foremost among them is functionality.

This is where you would say, “nylon, of course.” And I must (reluctantly) agree – fabric is one of the safest bets out there when it comes to gym bags. However, given my general averseness to the material, I decided to take some inspiration from celebrity styles, praying that I stumble upon a luxe, non-nylon gym carry that would come to my salvation.

But it is with significant dismay I report that the celeb set’s gym bags are roundly disappointing in the context of real-world situations. Case in point: Jennifer Lopez toted a Himalayan Birkin 25 with her workout ensemble, leaving the fashion world in various stages of collective horror as we were left to imagine how the rare beauty may have been shoved into sweaty, germ-infested gym lockers (which is the only thing currently preventing me from using my Balenciaga Work as a gym-bag). Or perhaps not: J.Lo wouldn’t be working out like the rest of us mortals.

Jennifer Lopez 2
Jennifer Lopez with her Hermès Himalaya Birkin 25

I point out that stars rarely need to worry about functionality because they have people carrying things for them. As a result, the Kardashians have made a living out of carrying eye-watering Hermès and Chanel pieces to the gym, and designer mini-purses (despite being totally impractical) are standard thoroughfare for many of today’s starlets.

So, is there no sophisticated carryall trusty enough to take you on your commute and to the gym that’s also spacious enough to fit a change of clothing, gadgets, books, water bottle, and more, yet ensure no compromising odors escape? It is a bit of a tall order to satisfy all these criteria. But our PurseForum members (and certain male celebs) have developed an effective workaround – the Louis Vuitton Keepall!

Generally ranging in sizes between 45 cm to 60 cm, the Keepall boasts enough real estate to house all your requirements, is stylish enough to garner envious glances (the black Epi is to die for!), and is generally known for being highly durable and hard-wearing, except for the vachetta trims on monogram versions.

But is it salvation at last? Well, not quite.

David Beckham.jpg
David Beckham with a Louis Vuitton Keepall

Worried about Security?

Congratulations! You have finally found yourself the perfect gym carryall. It has enough compartments to house everything and the kitchen sink in it, it’s made from durable coated canvas which could very well outlive you, and it’s laden with logos belonging to one of the most storied fashion houses of today. What could go wrong?

Well, for starters, the lockers at your gym might pose an unexpected problem: they could be too small! When buying a gym bag – duffle or not – it could be tempting to opt for sizes on the larger end (like the Keepall 50 or 55). But if the lockers for storing the purses at the gym are inadequate, then you might not be able to use your dear new purchase in the first place. Or worse, you might have to leave it outside the locker unattended! In related news, I need to visit my gym before purchasing.

However, theft is an even greater source of concern, both on and beyond the PurseForum. In your hunt to find the most stylish, high-end gym purse, you might end up with something highly recognizable (like a monogram Keepall or a Gucci Duffle). And as functional and chic as they may be, they might set you up as a target for prying fingers. TPFers have even noted locker doors being ripped apart and their expensive purses stolen, which is reason enough to make one quite nervous, especially in public gyms on, for instance, university grounds. And if you must constantly be on the lookout for the safety of your handbag during an exercise session, as opposed to someone who might simply be carrying a low-key nylon carry-on (albeit a distastefully sporty one), would you be able to derive the full benefits of the workout?

Louis Vuitton Keepall 45

Ultimately, the perfect gym bag is specific to the individual’s needs. Not everyone is required to schlep around their entire existence in their gym/work bag, for instance. And cost, functionality, and security constraints also play a major role in the final decision.

As for me, I’m alternately tempted to name the Sac de Jour as the ideal carryall for everything ever (as I am always prone to do when in doubt) or to scrap the idea of working out altogether. Realistically, however, it’s the first time I’m taking a serious look at the backpack offerings from Tumi and Coach, and they do show significant promise.

But wait, speaking of backpacks, don’t I already have a metallic silver Burberry Nylon Rucksack that’s big enough for my books and workout gear and is also stylish? Yes, yes, I do. Perhaps I don’t need to buy another gym bag at all…

What about you – what’s your go-to gym purse?


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