You’re headed to meet your girls at the gym for Zumba class. You can’t wait to be surrounded by hot tunes, good friends and…germs?
It’s true—even the cleanest of gyms and health clubs might be harboring bacteria, viruses and other cooties. Sharing yoga mats, towels and gym equipment with dozens (even hundreds!) of your fellow athletes puts you and others at risk for the common cold, influenza, skin ailments, ringworm and staph infection, to name a few.
What’s a Fit Bottomed Girl to do? Try these tips to minimize your contact with cooties at the gym.
How to Avoid Gym Germs
1. Cover your cuts. All cuts, scrapes or abrasions should be covered with clean, dry bandages. These areas are particularly vulnerable to infection, plus you want to prevent transmitting any infections you may have as well.
2. Spray the germs away. Don’t skip the spray bottles! Standard in most gyms, a disinfecting agent of some sort should be provided by the facility. Whether you’re on the treadmill or hitting the weight machines, spray the equipment down thoroughly and wipe away. Repeat after you finish using the equipment.
3. Suds up. Good hygiene is important in preventing disease transmission. Always shower with soap immediately after your workout. If you shower at the gym, use your own soap and shampoo instead of the communal suds provided. Don’t share personal items, like razors, hairbrushes and towels. Finally, to avoid the risk of athlete’s foot, wear a pair of flip-flops in the shower and locker room—never walk barefoot!
4. Ditch the gross garb. In addition to increasing the likelihood of yeast infections, wearing your sweaty clothes after your workout can transmit germs from the gym to your car, your home and your family. Multiple studies have shown that clothing plays a role in the spread of disease, since fabric can retain germs for a long time, transmitting it from place to place. After your shower, don clean attire.
5. Check in. Ask to see the cleaning schedule at your gym. There should be regularly scheduled cleaning, disinfecting and inspection of all surfaces in the gym, including free weights, yoga mats, training tables and whirlpools. If the front desk doesn’t have one, ask to speak to a manager about the facility’s attention to hygiene and safety.
6. Stay home. No, this doesn’t mean you should ditch the gym altogether—but if you’re sick or even suspect you might be coming down with something, stay home. Not only is it common courtesy to your fellow gym-goers, but your immune system is already fighting one thing. Don’t kick it while it’s down by exposing it to other germs!
7. Be aware—not afraid! Yes, there are a lot of germs, but that doesn’t mean you should throw in the (gym) towel. The odds of you reaping the benefits of a good workout are much greater than the odds of you contracting a deadly strain of bacteria. With the preventive measures above, most healthy adults are able to get their sweat on juuust fine.
What tips do you follow to keep bacteria at bay when you’re working out? —Susan