The gym is good for you – fact!  But given the nature of what goes on there, you wouldn’t exactly want to eat your lunch off the seat of a rowing machine.  At the best of times, even the cleanest best kept gyms are a hotbed for germs, so in the depths of winter when everyone is a walking snot factory how do you get the benefits of exercise without succumbing to a sick bug? Being a personal trainer for the last 10 years, Gym germs are quite a phobia of mine.

Aside from the obvious thorough washing of your hands after a work-out, there are a few little things you can do to help your immune system do its job. 

6 tips to help you avoid the germs at the gym…

Wipe down pre and post!  

Free weights, exercise balls, weights machines.  They are all covered in other people’s bacteria and viruses.  So it’s courteous to wipe down equipment AFTER use so that the next person isn’t met by your sweat-fest, but for your sake have a wipe down on equipment BEFORE you start.  Most gyms have anti-bacterial sprays with the paper towels, but if not carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and apply a generous layer before you start.

Mats matter 

A thin role of foam is basically a germ sponge.  So next time you do a yoga class or plan on giving yourself an abs work out in the gym, take your own mat and don’t share it!  After each use clean it with a bleach spray or anti-bacterial gel and let it dry naturally. Most personal trainers will tell you that at most gymnasiums, mats are not washed nearly as often as they need to be. Take matters into your own hands!

Bag of bugs 

The gym bag is a party tent for germs.  Whilst the ones in your bag and most likely to be your own, any bag placed down in a locker or on a changing room bench will pick up other people’s.  The locker room is warm and damp, so any bugs anyone brings in to that place are going to feel very welcome indeed.  Reduce your chances of infection by having a vinyl or plastic bag rather than the nice cozy material one you’ve got now, and regularly wipe down the inside of your bag with disinfectant.

Towel trauma 

The ‘clean’ towels a lot of gyms provide have still been transported in the same trolley as the used ones to and from the laundry room or the back door for pick up from the company that launders them.  Bring your own and bring two.  One for drying yourself after a shower, and the other for wiping yourself down whilst in the gym.  TIP – on one side of your gym towel, mark a big X and only allow that side to come in to contact with the gym equipment.  The other side should be the one to mop the evidence of effort from your face.

Water-way to get infected  

Your bottle may already have been transported in your dirty gym bag, and is then placed in that ever-so convenient drink holder slot at the side of the machine.  Just by being in the gym, these bottles can pick stuff up and again, the wet and warm environment means that anything nasty that it comes in to contact with feels very much at home.  Use wide spouted flasks with screw tops rather than the pull-up nozzles and straw varieties (these allow for germs to gather). Wash your water after every use.

Safe in the shower? 

Not exactly, no.  Just think of the number of people who use those showers compared to how regularly they are cleaned.  If you can, shower at home.  If you can’t, use antibacterial soap and never shave at the gym.  Cuts and nicks are just open doors for infections.

Other quick tips!

  • Don’t sit on the locker room bench naked!
  • Cover up and cuts you may have before your workout
  • If your gym doesn’t have hand sanitizer available in reception as you leave, have your own supply somewhere to use as soon as you can after the gym.

Well I hope you guys got a quick dose of what you need to do in order to stay germ-free at the gym. Don’t let any of this information to charity from coming to the gym because your health and fitness is still the most important thing. Thanks for reading everyone, and thanks for stopping by the personal training pioneer! 

Tyler Read has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. Tyler is also a certified personal trainer with NASM, ACE and CSCS. Tyler’s main goal is to help people get started in the personal training industry and to become successful personal trainers. Tyler is the owner of Personal Training Pioneer which helps people get started in the personal training industry and become successful.

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