The gym is good for you – in 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 ten years, Gym germs are quite a phobia of mine. 

Aside from the apparent thorough washing of your hands after a workout, you can do a few little things to help your immune system do its job. 

This Personal Trainers Biggest Phobia - Germs at the Gym! 3

Six 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 your sweat-fest doesn’t meet the next person, but for your sake, have a wipe down on equipment BEFORE you start. 

Most gyms have anti-bacterial sprays with paper towels; if not, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and apply a generous layer before you start.

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Mats matter 

A thin roll of foam is a germ sponge.  So next time you do a yoga class or plan on giving yourself an abs workout in the gym, take your 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 mats are not washed nearly as often as needed at most gymnasiums. Take matters into your own hands!

Bag of bugs 

The gym bag is a party tent for germs.  While the ones in your pocket are most likely your own, any bag placed 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 into that place will feel welcome. 

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Reduce your chances of infection by having a vinyl or plastic bag rather than the nice comfortable material one you’ve got now, and regularly wipe down the inside of your bag with disinfectant.

Towel trauma 

The ‘clean’ towels many gyms provide have still been transported in the same trolley as the used ones too, 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 while in the gym. 

TIP – Mark a big X on one side of your gym towel and only allow that side to come into contact with the gym equipment. 

The other side should be the one to mop the evidence of effort from your face.

Waterway 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 contact with feels very much at home. 

Use full 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. 

Suppose 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 supply somewhere to use as soon as possible after the gym.

Well, I hope you guys got a quick dose of what you need to do 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 for stopping by the personal training pioneer! 

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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