Germs and bacteria thrive anywhere there’s sweat or skin-to-surface contact, which is virtually every area in a gym. A recent study conducted by Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System identified five specific surfaces in gyms that present the greatest health risk for germ transmission.
- Interior entrance door handles and push plates
- Shower floors
- Free weight benches and bars
- Mats and all cardio and weight training machine touch points
These high-touch surfaces are frequently used every day, making the potential for germ buildup greater than other areas.
The comprehensive study measured surface hygiene levels using Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) readings. ATP is used to measure surface levels of biological contamination.
What you can do to stay healthy in the gym?
The responsibility of maintaining the cleanest facilities possible falls on gym owners and managers, and part of their responsibility is educating gym patrons on how to stay healthy while working out. There’s a lot that gym-goers can do to protect themselves from contracting germs at the gym. Here are some tips to follow to ensure you get the healthiest possible workout experience:
- Always wear flip flops in the shower and when walking around the locker room to avoid contracting a fungal skin infection.
- Use antifungal powder in your gym shoes to stop bacteria and fungus from developing.
- Sweaty socks are breeding grounds for fungi — change your socks often.
- Don’t store damp towels or clothing in your gym bag.
- Bring your own soap to the gym.
- Don’t share towels.
- Wash gym shoes in a hot water cycle occasionally.
- Bring your own water bottle to the gym — drinking fountains are heavily contaminated with germs.
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth whenever possible.
- Always wipe down equipment and machines before use, including mats and cardio machines. Bring your own wipes if the gym doesn’t supply them.
- To avoid getting others sick, don’t exercise when you’re feeling under the weather.
- After working out, wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (via Coverall).
Hygienic cleaning protocols help eliminate illness-causing germs.
Every gym has their own cleaning protocols for keeping their facilities clean, but traditional cleaning methods such as wiping down machines with a cloth rag may be leaving a considerable amount of germs behind. Cleaning cloths and traditional mopping can also spread the dead germs, which may turn into a food source for new bacteria. The bottom line: just because it looks clean, that doesn’t mean that it is clean. So, what can gym owners do to ensure the cleanest, healthiest facilities are provided to their customers?
According to Coverall, hygienic, scientifically-developed methods and technologies can dig through the dirt to reduce the buildup of germs and harmful pathogens that are commonly left behind by traditional cleaning methods. Together with microfiber technology (which is 99 percent more effective than other materials at retaining soil and matter), hygienic cleaning deploys hospital-grade virucide/germicide disinfectants to assure the cleanest possible standards are met. Color-coded microfiber tools and strategies also help to eliminate cross-contamination of germs by designating the specific area of a facility in which each color cloth is used.
Other microfiber technologies, such as lightweight flat mops and no-dip mopping procedures, help trap and contain germs with super absorbent fabric, while reducing water consumption. To combat bacteria-infested locker room floors, showers and toilets, wet cleaning technology and state-of-the-art spray and vacuum techniques provide cleaning results so effective that these surfaces can even meet food contact standards (via Coverall).
It takes a joint effort by both fitness center managers and patrons to reduce the health risks that are inherent in these environments. By using hygienic cleaning strategies and promoting healthy hand hygiene habits among customers, gym managers can significantly reduce risks associated with the spread of dangerous germs.