Is Your Gym a Hub for Germs and Bacteria?

OK, we all just stuffed ourselves with Thanksgiving dinner. That means, if you are at all like me, you’re looking a bit pudgier. Fortunately, there are lots of gyms eager to have you as a new member to help lose some of those pounds.

But before you join a gym, keep in mind that gyms can be a natural hub for germs and bacteria. This has always been true. Ever seen people sweat at a gym? It may look like they are really putting in the extra effort to get in shape. But the problem with sweat is it’s a transferring agent: it transfers bacteria and viruses from one spot to another.

New and current members need to be aware of things like this. Here are some more concerns to be aware of.

Germs and the Water Fountain

Dr. Michael Schmidt, a microbiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina, suggests it’s always best to bring a refillable bottle to the gym. Make sure it’s cleaned regularly with soap and water and allowed to dry. Also, don’t fill it with energy or protein drinks. These can leave a residue that can be hard to remove. In time, the residue can attract potentially harmful microorganisms.

If you forget your water bottle and must use the water fountain, let the water run a bit before you sip. This will allow any microbes that may have formed at the spout to be removed.

Drying and Disinfecting Are Not the Same

Many gym regulars carry a towel with them and use it to wipe down equipment before they use it. This may remove any moisture on the equipment but will not necessarily remove germs or bacteria. On top of this, as the towel is used, contaminants can build up on the towel. When this happens, it’s likely germs and bacteria are being spread from one surface to another.

Instead, use an antibacterial spray or wipe before using any equipment, and clean it again with a fresh wipe when you are finished to protect the next user’s health. Remember: many of the weights and machines used in a gym are purposely made with course metals and rubber. This helps ensure we have a tight grip when using the equipment. But they are a perfect hiding place for harmful microbes.

Germs and the Equipment

This leads us to the number one germ and bacteria center in the gym: the equipment. Researchers at Kent State University swabbed equipment at 16 different gyms. They found 40 percent of all the surfaces tested had evidence of staph and its more virulent cousin, MRSA. As to the most contaminated surfaces in the gym, they were the following:

  • Weight balls, 62.5 percent were contaminated
  • Cable-driven curl bars, also 62.5 percent contaminated
  • Weight plates, 56 percent
  • Treadmill handles, 50 percent
  • Yoga mats, 40 percent

What can members, owners, and managers do about gym germs?

For gym members, always wipe down the equipment with an antibacterial spray before using it and wipe it again with a fresh wipe when finished. Also, wash your hands frequently. The wipe can leave residue on your hands, attracting germs and bacteria.

For gym owners and managers, thorough, effective, and ongoing cleaning is mandatory for all gym equipment and all high touch areas. Ongoing means this should be performed while the gym is open. Waiting to clean and disinfect at the end of the day increases the risk of members getting infected.

The cleaning solution and disinfectant used are particularly important. With most disinfectants, surfaces must be cleaned first and then disinfected. That makes this process slow.

Select a disinfectant that cleans and disinfects simultaneously in one step. Our LEXX® Cleaner and Disinfectant is a perfect example. EPA-registered, this disinfectant is proven effective and designed to eliminate a wide range of germs and bacteria, including those that can collect in your gym.

And just remember. LEXX is all you need, naturally. ™

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