Public places aren’t typically the most sanitary, but fitness centers are cesspools for bacteria because of the warm and sweaty environment. FitRated.com conducted their own study on the subject. They tested 27 different pieces of equipment from three different facilities and discovered that over 70% of the bacteria found are potentially harmful to humans. This could mean anything from the common cold to rashes, to life-threatening diseases.
You might be saying ‘well, that’s just the nature of going out in public and the risk you take.’ So let’s give it a little more perspective. They also tested other common items to see how the gym equipment compared:
The exercise bike they tested showed 39x more bacteria than a plastic reusable cafeteria tray, the treadmill tested showed 74x more bacteria than a water faucet, and the free weights tested showed (brace yourself) 362x more bacteria than a toilet seat!
The Spread of Bacteria
There are several ugly consequences when bacteria starts to spread. I've listed just a few here, but I did find myself in a deep, dark hole of horror stories similar to the one you're about to read.
- MRSA. Ever heard of the MRSA infection? It’s a type of super staph bacteria that has become immune to many of the antibiotics used to treat regular staph infections. Up until about 15 years ago, this was considered a hospital-acquired infection. Well, not anymore. This bacteria began growing in regular communities and is easily spread among patrons using exercise facilities. In 2013, there was an MRSA outbreak amongst the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that threatened a game and sparked concern over the source. It wasn’t until they cleaned their practice facilities that the outbreak stopped.
- Acne. Germs at the gym can even cause acne if you’re not careful. Just think about it. You touch the equipment, then you touch your phone, then you make a call and your phone touches your face.
- The list goes on... If you’re the type to use gym mats and take off your shoes while doing so, you’re also at risk athlete’s foot, hepatitis A and ringworm.
"We’re all about being HEALTHY here at Legends & that doesn’t just mean getting in a good workout! (Although we're pretty stellar with that 😀) We also make sure to clean & sanitize the equipment and devices we use throughout the day. Sweat and germs are inevitable but we do what we can to maintain a HEALTHY environment around here, and with the help of PhoneSoap, it's a whole lot easier!" - Legends Boxing
What You Can Do to Stay Safe
1. Don’t touch your face! Touching your face is bad enough, let alone after you’ve been at the gym and touching all the soiled equipment.
2. Wipe down the equipment. Bring a small packet of disinfectant wipes with you and give the equipment a quick scrub before and after use. Unfortunately, this will not be extremely effective in killing all the bacteria. EWG.org said it best, "seeing that all disinfectant products, including bleach, need to stay on the surface for a certain duration of time to work adequately. You might be surprised how many wet wipes it takes to ensure the surface stays wet for the full 4 to 10 minutes directed on the label." This being the case, you may not want to stand around for 10 minutes waiting to use the treadmill, but a quick wipe down will remove some of the sweat and dirt left lingering from previous gym members. Which brings us to our next tip...
3. Wash your hands. Even better…wash your whole body. Most gyms provide showers for a quick rinse-off, but if you’re not comfortable using them or are running out of time, just give your hands a good 30-45 seconds with soap and warm water. I typically do double duty and use hand sanitizer after, just to be safe. Throw a travel size one in your gym bag or request that they keep some containers in the locker rooms.
4. Wipe off your devices and sanitize! This goes for anything that may have accompanied you to the gym – phone, Fitbit, jewelry, headphones, weight-lifting gloves, tablet, and more! Phones and smaller items can fit in the PhoneSoap 3.0, anything bigger will likely fit in the PhoneSoap XL!
5. Don’t re-wear dirty gym clothes! I know doing laundry sucks, but if that extra load is going to prevent you from getting some freaky rash, it’s worth it. Wearing used gym clothes can also cause stubborn chest and back acne, and no one wants that either.
Now, because I’m proud of you all for going to the gym (or at least entertaining the idea), I want to give away a PhoneSoap 3.0! Go comment your favorite junk food on our most recent Instagram post (I’m a big advocate for balance in all things). I’ll choose my favorite by the end of the day!