Ah, yes, my favorite topic: Germs at the Gym.
This is a place that encourages sweat, blood, and tears, and unfortunately, the walls are covered with them! So how do we have a great workout without getting some stranger's sweat germs on our cute yoga pants? Here's how:
1. Know Your Gym's Cleaning Protocol
I used to work at a 24 Hour Fitness that required you to have your ID and a clean towel with you before you could enter the facility. Sounds a little over the top, but it really helped keep the equipment clean. Get familiar with your gym's cleaning spray (most gyms ask you to spray your machine after using it) as well as the hand sanitizer. Try to figure out how often the locker rooms are clean too.
2. Clean, Cover, and Protect Any Open Skin.
Anything from paper cuts to rug burn, open skin needs to be covered when you’re in the gym. Broken skin is a great way to get all kinds of bacterial infections. After your workout, remove the bandaid, wash the area, and apply a new one.
3. Wash Your Hands and Body.
When people in a work environment wash their hands regularly, it can reduce the spread of viruses by almost 80%. 80 percent, people! And while I love nothing more than grabbing a bottle of cold water when I get home and laying around on the floor, you really ought to shower as soon as you reasonably can after each workout.
4. Wash Your Gym Clothes Often.
When is the last time you washed that huge ragged shirt you use to run in? Resist the urge to get an extra wear or two out of your gym clothes — you really should wash them after just a single use.
5. Wear flip-flops in the locker room (and other footwear everywhere else).
What is even less cute than socks and sandals? Athlete’s Foot. That itchy and sometimes burning rash-like infection that shows up on feet, is common in people who work out. It can spreads via floors, linens, mats, towels, etc. In conclusion, don’t go barefoot in the gym. If you’re taking yoga, wear socks or yoga shoes. And please wear flip-flops in the shower and around the locker room.
6. Your water bottle is gross; wash it now.
If you carry a reusable bottle around the gym, consider it a germ thermos. Wash it after every single time you bring it to the gym. Wash your bottle in warm water, scrubbing well and drying it thoroughly. Use a dishwasher instead if you have access to one — it’ll use super hot water and dry the bottle after cleaning, minimizing that moisture that germs love.