Everyone knows if you want to promote good health, going to the gym is a large component. However, hidden behind all the workout machines and shared fitness classes are hundreds of thousands of microscopic germs, bacteria, and fungi itching to find a host. Community settings paired with the sweat and moisture of the gym are the ideal location for germs to grow and survive. So what places are the grossest?
Weight and Cardio Machines
These are the most frequently handled items in the gym, so it shouldn’t be a surprise they carry the most germs. Lifting weights? You could be touching MRSA or norovirus. Working out on the exercise bike? You’re at risk for rhinovirus, staph, fungi, and yeast. You never know what the person before you was carrying or if they cleaned the equipment after use.
Protection – With all shared equipment, including cardio machines, weight machines, free weights, resistance bands, and yoga balls, wipe them down before and after each use. If your gym doesn’t have antibacterial wipes, bring hand sanitizer and paper towels and use them as wipes.
Most locker rooms, especially those with showers, are humid and damp, which is the perfect atmosphere for germs, bacteria, and fungi to thrive. The floor alone has sweat from the gym floor, fecal matter from the bathroom, fungi from the showers, and many other traces of gross micro-organisms. The benches have fecal matter and traces of vaginal yeast from people sitting on them naked. There are so many disgusting things that are just itching to jump onto your gym bag and clothing.
Protection – Wear shoes in the locker room at all times, including flip flops in the showers. If you’re changing shoes, sit on the bench and have both pairs of shoes ready so your feet never have to touch the ground. Also, avoid sitting on the bench naked. But if you have to for some reason, always lay down a towel first.
Pools are hugely notorious for being a germ hot spot. Think about the number of people who pee in the pool or don’t shower before they get in. In a dirty pool, you’re basically floating around with germs and bacteria floating around you, including the kinds that give you a stomach bug or ear or eye infections. Even around the pool is dirty. The edges of the pool that stay damp are one of the most common places to get athlete’s foot.
Protection – The best thing you can do is ask your gym how often they test the pool and ask to see the pH levels. If it’s indoors, you can also smell the pool area. If there’s an overpowering chlorine scent, it means the pool is dirtier. However, if you’re a pool rat, make sure you always wear a cap, goggles, and ear plugs while swimming, wear flip flops walking to and from the pool, and shower immediately after getting out.
Exercise & Yoga Mats
Even if you bring your own mat, there are still many opportunities for germs to make their way onto and into your mat. Bacteria can live on mats for days to a week while fungi can survive for weeks to months. All the sweat and heat that often accompany working out drips onto mats or gets left behind for your mat to sop up. Any skin contact with a germ-infested mat can cause skin infections, athlete’s foot, colds and flu, and hepatitis A.
Protection – Always, always, always bring your own mat and don’t share it. Keep your mat clean by wiping it down with disinfectant before and after each use. If you already have your own mat, you can not only protect it from germs but also reduce mildew smells with a mat wrap. ThePureBag™ makes a mat wrap that you can easily roll onto your mat for total germ protection.
If you think your gym bag is just lugging home all your equipment, you’re very wrong. All the germs and bacteria on your clothes, water bottles, shoes, and other gear hitch a ride with you and make your home their own. Even though a majority of the germs will be your own, every time your bag comes in contact with a shared area, other people’s staph, salmonella, E. coli, and pseudomonas will climb aboard your bag.
Protection – Avoid placing your gym bag on the floor or benches in the locker room, because that’s where a majority of bacteria latch on. When purchasing a bag, select something made of vinyl or plastic, such as ThePureBag™, because germs don’t stick on the material the same way they do with cloth. Then, every so often, wipe down the inside and outside surfaces of the bags to give them a little extra protection.
Now, don’t let the thought of germs stop you from going to the gym. By following our protection tips, you can protect your health and promote a healthy lifestyle! For an unmatched level of protection against microorganisms at the gym, check out the selection of yoga bags, yoga mat wraps, zip pockets, and cinch bags on our website and invest in your health.