Staying Fit, Staying Safe

When people want to get healthy, they either go to hospitals or gyms, depending on the circumstances. Unless you are already sick, the gym is the right place for you! But, due to the nature of a gym (i.e., a place where people sweat, spit, and touch everything), there is a sense in which they can be places where people get sick. That’s why it’s important for both you and your gym to have high standards of hygiene. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Be Preemptive: Choose a Hygienic Gym
Even before you ever sit down at a weight machine, ensure that your gym is a clean place. Most gyms have formal standards that they must keep in order to stay in business. Find out what those standards are and observe how your prospective gym meets those standards. This is often hard to do in one visit, but by doing a trial membership you can observe the staff and check the most at-risk areas, such as the bathrooms, in more detail. Are the staff diligent to wipe down machines? Do they use sanitizer or just a dry towel? Are there hand sanitizer stations readily available? These are a few things to keep in mind as you check out a new gym.

Be sure to give the bathrooms a good look-over. Bathrooms can make or break the cleanliness of any establishment. If the bathrooms are disgusting and smell worse, then you can reasonably assume that any germs in their have made their way throughout the gym. Make sure there is plenty of soap in the soap dispensers and that the floors are clean. If they are not, then you know that someone has carried bathroom molecules on their shoes all over the place, even onto the mat that you are doing sit-ups on. Yikes!

Lastly, ensure that your gym has rules about cuts and scrapes. Due to the nature of places like gyms, it can be extra dangerous to have open wounds exposed when working out. Even if the scrapes are minor, your gym should have some sort of policy requiring members to cover up or abstain from exercises until they are healed. This is best for them and everyone else.

Be on the Offensive: Wipe Down Everything You Have Touched and Will Touch
Expectations that your gym will be a clean place go hand in hand with being on the offensive against germs yourself. Carry a sweat rag with you at all times so that you can wipe your sweat from machines and can wipe your face and body without touching yourself with your bare hands. Usually this involves using two separate towels or both ends of a large towel. Also, keep some hand sanitizer with you wherever you go if the gym doesn’t provide if there. If you take these precautions, you will save yourself and your co-members. As I have been fond of saying, “Your gym is only as hygienic as its most irresponsible patron.”

Be Defensive: Clean Yourself Before Going Home
Don’t be ashamed to use the shower at your gym. Even if you don’t live far, showering on site can keep whatever you picked up at the gym there at the gym. You don’t want to spread germs to your car and family (or personal shower for that matter). To avoid getting athlete’s foot, be diligent to pack some cheap flip-flops in your bag.

On another note, I have something to say to you folks who are convinced you can get by without washing your gym clothes for days on end: You can’t! Staphylococcus and other types of bacteria love those dark and wet environments and can cause serious health problems for you and others at your gym. Be responsible to yourself and others and wear clean clothes every time you enter the gym.
So be preemptive, offensive (in a good way), and defensive, and stay clean at the gym so you can remain healthy and honor your fellow exercisers as they pursue their fitness goals!

Author Bio: Ethan Steadman writes for Health Testing Centers, which has been offering direct access to health testing, such as the Essential Health Screen for 30 years.

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