3 views 11 comments

Avoiding Gym Germs – There’s Some Nasty Stuff at the Gym!

by on August 11, 2010


Man Sneezing into Tissue

When I was a member at the local gym, I did enjoy going. Although there were good points and bad points about the place, going did help to turn my attitude around about fitness. One thing that happened to me more often than not was getting sick. I would come down with a cold and while I will never know for certain it was due to touching the equipment at the gym, I have a strong feeling it was the cause of many of my colds.

Get ready to be grossed out because the stuff you can catch at the gym is really nasty!

What Holds the Most Germs?

Handles – Any handles that you can touch will contain most of the germs. Also be aware of everything on the machines that you can touch, including the buttons.

Showers – Don’t even think about using the shower without wearing shower shoes. You’re just asking for a case of athlete’s foot if you shower in your bare feet.

Yoga mats – I can’t imagine that most people don’t bring their own yoga mats to the gym but if your gym supplies them and you have been using them, wipe them down well. The sweat from the previous user can leave bacteria that can transfer to your skin causing Folliculitis (inflammation of one or more hair follicles.)

What You Can Do to Help Avoid the Germs

Wash your hands – wash them before and after you use the equipment. Dry your hands with paper towels or air dry. Don’t dry with the towel you’re using for the machines. Antibacterial gel also helps if you want to use it in-between hand washing.

Avoid touching your face – particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Use antibacterial wipes – hopefully your gym supplies them but if not, they are inexpensive. Carry them with you and wipe down everything before you use it – handles, buttons, seats, benches, etc. Also cover up any cuts or abrasions you may have on your hands. Most of all, don’t wipe down equipment with the same towel you’re using to wipe your own sweat. Your towel can carry fungal bacteria like ringworm.

Water fountains – personally, I always brought my own water to the gym but if you must use a water fountain, let it run for 15 seconds or so before taking a drink.

Do you have any tips to share?

Resource: Don’t Let Germy Gyms Get You Sick


Leave a reply »

  • August 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Hey Eartha it amazes me how many people don’t clean anything at the gym, especially the people who are leaving pools of sweat at each exercise machine they use.

    More gyms should have signs telling people to clean the equipment after they use it!


    • August 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      Yup Joe, when I used to go, I would see people sweat up the machines and just walk away to use something else. You’re right, the gyms should enforce wiping down equipment after use.


  • August 12, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Great article, and one I totally agree with. One of the things I hated the most was seeing pieces of equipment covered in sweat. Disgusting.

    People should be more responsible and clean up whatever they use in the gym after they’re done with them.


  • August 12, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Hey Eartha!!! Again another great post. I personally work in the fitness industry and I used to work for a large corporate gym (that you all have heard of). And I can tell you we had outbreaks of topical staff infection on a monthly basis due to the lack of cleaning at our facilities and the high volume of people. Sure we had cleaning crews in all of these facilities however, due to the lack of pay we were unable to keep infections and bacteria out. Most of the infections/bacteria issues start in the the locker rooms so be sure to always wear footwear in the locker room and if you are going to shower wear flip flops or water shoes even inside of the shower. Also respect your fellow ‘gym-goers’ and wipe the equipment down when you are done with it.


    • August 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      Hi David! It can be tough for big gyms to keep down the amount of bacteria and infections on the equipment. It really helps if everyone does their part but a lot of gym members won’t.


  • August 12, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Well the gym I participate at has some anti-bacteria spray that is available for our use. There is about six locations spread out in the gym by the paper towel machines.


    • August 12, 2010 at 2:09 pm

      That is good to know Jared. At my previous gym, it took quite awhile before I began to see anti-bacterial spray and paper towels available for use.


  • August 12, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Excellent information Eartha, I’m a big fan of home workouts myself and I didn’t even think to consider the dangers of germs. Gyms are especially bad because your immune system is often weaker when you’re tired after a workout. When you’re in a room full of people who are in various stages of healthiness, germs are a big risk, it must be hellish during flu season!

    This kind of information is my favorite because it’s quick and easy to apply, especially if you’re about to head out for a workout. Awesome stuff!

    – Jack Bronson | Workout without Weights


    • August 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      Thanks Jack! That is a great point about our immune systems being weaker after a workout. I remember very well having colds a lot more often when I belonged to a gym.


  • August 17, 2010 at 4:43 am

    My gym’s locker room’s gotta be the stinkiest place I ever go to on a regular basis. It’s probably not because of the utter lack of germs for sure, but then again one can’t walk around constantly fearing germs everywhere. That’s why we have immune systems, to take care of such issues. I have never even caught a cold at the gym. and I beg to differ on your immune system being weakened by the workout. As it gets your juices flowing and fired up, your body is probably at its strongest after a good wo


Leave a Response