We’ve all been there! That moment at the gym when we have moved to our next circuit machine and the previous member did not bother to wipe the sweat off. Or maybe we think that our simple swipe of our towel, which we are using to wipe our own sweat away from our face, body and hands by the way, will remove the previous person’s germs. THINK AGAIN!
“A hotbed of germs” is what recent studies call your gym. Where to be exact are the worst offenders?
The Locker Rooms – Those areas that some people find a “free range” zone to walk around, in the buff at times, and spread their visual love. (By the way, put on a towel or use one of the designated dressing rooms please. Your fellow members will thank you for it) From sitting on benches to taking a shower for convenience, you should always be aware of hidden and anti-biotic resistant bacteria. Wear flip-flops and dressing towels. Never step directly or sit on the locker room floors or benches without protecting yourself. Avoid sitting all together if you can help it. Always wash your hands upon arriving and before leaving the locker room to prevent further spread of bacteria.
Circuit Training Areas and Cardio Machines – Who knows where their hands have been or what kind of hygiene they practice! Think about this, one in every five people do not wash their hands before leaving the bathroom and then they proceed to the free weight areas, circuit training and cardio machines and most do not even bring or use a towel. GROSS! Then you come along, like other members, and instead of prewiping the machine down you lay your towel down and begin exercising, upon finishing with the machine you use your own towel to wipe what you may think is only your sweat from it after use. Most gyms have a supply of antibacterial wipes that you can use before and after using machines, I would use a new one for each different machine, and you can grab them and move on to your next circuit, free weight or cardio machine.
Exercise Balls – Lord knows we have all seen what people do on the exercise balls, in my opinion, if you have an exercise ball at home do those exercises there. If you have to use them at the gym, even if you think people will think you are crazy, wipe it down or use antibacterial sanitizer before and after use.
Towels – Bring your own towel!!! Same hamper used for dirty towels to transport clean and dry towels for folding contain the same germs that were on those towels before they were washed. Some of those towels could be contaminated with E. coli! To be safe, always keep an extra towel in your car for when you forget to grab one on your way out of the house.
Exercise Mats – One of the potentially grossest things at the gym in some places. Have you ever been at the gym and witnessed a worker clean or disinfect those mats? No, chances are no one else has either! Always grab an antibacterial wipe or spray, if available at your gym, and wipe down the area that you will be using. By all means, DO NOT place your personal clean towel on this surface. You can contaminate it and then transfer those germs to your body or face.
Water Bottles – Dirty, contaminated hands = germs moving to the rim and multiplying! Avoid any hydration bottle for the gym that requires you actually having to handle the rim area before you hydrate. I have to admit, in my weekly cycling class, one of my go-to water bottles requires that I flip the top before I get a drink and I can’t tell you how many times that I have accidentally knocked it off the bike onto the floor, yeah GROSS! I will be investing in new hydration bottles for future workouts.
The new motto that everyone has taken to heart “Eat Clean Train Dirty” does not pertain to training in a dirty germ laden environment. Take time and protect yourself and create the best possible germ free zone for yourself while you are enjoying (haha!) that workout. After all, we do not go to the gym to end up sick from the germs we were exposed to there. Do your part and clean up before and after yourself even though others may not. You will at least know that you did your part in trying to prevent the spread of the nasty bacteria love!