Keep it clean and stay healthy at the gym

This post is brought to us by local guest blogger Rebecca of the blogs Relish and Everything is ticketyboo!

On a scale of 1 to 10, my germaphobia hovers somewhere around a 6. When I’m in the gym, however, that number gets flipped on its head and becomes a solid 9. Since we are all largely responsible for keeping ourselves healthy, I can only hope that most people feel the same way, but I know that’s not always the case. Once you have witnessed someone exit a machine without the obligatory “wipe down”, you know that, really, it’s all up to you to maintain a healthy workout environment for yourself.

Overall gym cleanliness

Of course, you have to start out with clean surroundings. One of the things to look for when you are shopping for a gym to join is the general cleanliness of the facility and the equipment. A gym with messy locker rooms is bound to have dirty machines, and vice versa. Facilities should be in a constant state of cleaning and maintenance and quick to take care of any issues that arise. If your gym only cleans-up after hours, only the members present in the morning are getting the benefit. Things to look for include dust on the machines (indicating that they don’t receive regular, thorough cleanings) and less-than-pristine showers. If either of those conditions are present, it’s a good indication that there are problems elsewhere.

Make the wipes your workout buddy

Whether you are using a treadmill, stationary bike or equipment in the weight room, make sanitizing wipes and sprays your workout buddy. As soon as you are finished with a machine or piece of equipment, take a moment to wipe down any surfaces on which you’ve sat or rested, and paying special attention to handles and grips. Colds, flues, and even more serious infections, such as staph, can be transmitted through hand contact. If you are concerned that the person before you was not as diligent with their cleaning, feel free to do a pre-emptive wipe-down before you start your workout.

Clean your workout mat

At least once a day, I find myself down on an exercise mat, often in a state of sweaty glory. Thankfully, they are designed to get wet and clean up easily. For day-to-day maintenance, a thorough wipe with a disposable sanitizing cloth or spray and paper towels is adequate. It’s also a good idea to give it a periodic deep-clean, either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending how often you use your mat. (A good rule-of-thumb is every 5 uses or so.) Simply lay your mat out on a flat surface, spray well with disinfecting spray, wipe with paper towels until excess moisture has been removed, and then hang until completely dry before repeating on opposite side. Tip: Commercial products are available, but you can also make your own mat spray with plain old white vinegar and water and, optionally, a few drops of naturally anti-bacterial tea tree oil.

Shower shoes are a must

Even the cleanest looking shower can be a host to the highly-contagious fungi that causes athlete’s foot and certain infections of the toenails. Always, always, always wear flip-flops or shower shoes to, from, and IN the shower to reduce your chances of picking something up. Avoid being shoeless in other areas of the gym, as well. If you are taking a class that requires you to go barefoot, such as yoga, wear shoes or sandals between the locker room and the classroom.

Clean your workout accessories

Other personal equipment that you should be paying careful attention to are your towels, workout gloves, headbands/sweatbands, and water bottles. It seems obvious to mention, but often these items are returned to the gym bag after use and aren’t cleaned or replaced before the next workout. (I will admit to being guilty of this myself!) If you are a frequent exerciser, it is a good idea to purchase multiples of these regularly used items so that you always have a fresh set on-hand.

Remove your outdoor shoes please!

And, finally, since we are on the topic of shoes, be sure to change from street shoes to “inside shoes” immediately upon entering the gym. Most facilities have strict policies in place and will indicate at which point outside shoes should be removed. Not only does this prevent damage to specialized flooring surfaces, it prevents additional germs and dirt from being tracked through the exercise area.

Keep Well…Rebecca

Rebecca is a Certified Spinning Instructor, fitness instructor, blogger (Relish and Everything is ticketyboo! ), artist, reluctant morning person, and notorious killer-of-plants. She lives in a foliage-free home with her teenage son, Jacob.

Check These Out!