Eww, gross. That phrase is often heard (or thought) in gyms and it becomes a reason many people avoid working out at a gym. But seven simple steps will keep the germs in check. Plus, remember that exercise improves your immune system. Even if you are exposed to a few germs at the gym, you are still healthier in the long-run for going.
1. The most effective advice outside the gym is most effective in the gym. Do not touch your face. (Admitted, this can be a challenge if you have sweat sliding toward your eyes.)
2. Based on the first tip, bring your own face towel to wipe your face. Even if your gym provides towels, you don't know how (or by whom) they have been handled, so at least for your face, bring your own.
3. Before you get on the exercise equipment with your personal towel, use the disinfecting spray and gym-provided towel (see number five) to wipe down any areas hands usually touch. Bars and control boards are the most common.
4. If someone is coughing and sneezing, avoid them by at least three feet. If the gym is small, that may mean switching the order of your workout. Usually do weights first and there's a someone dripping their runny nose on the bench press? Time to head to the treadmills.
5. If your gym does not provide disinfecting spray and cleaning towels, talk to management about how you come to the gym to get healthy.
6. Oh, we must talk about the gym mats and carpet. Nasty, smelly, germ-containers that you don't notice until you are doing a push-up with your nose a couple of inches from them. No problem. Either go to a hard surface which does not trap as many germs or bring your own mat.
7. The locker room is a treasure-trove of germs. Here are two essentials. First, wash your hands thoroughly, especially before touching your face to apply make-up or shave your face. Second, never let your feet touch the floor to avoid athlete's foot and toenail fungus. Wear your "beach shoes" even in the shower and steam room.
These basic tips have proven central to staying well at the gym. The shoe tip became personal when working at a high-end gym. (Side note - germs do not discriminate by monthly dues.) I went into the steam room without shoes. I came out with athlete's foot. Learn from my mistake.
Follow these simple steps - even when you are not at the gym - and avoid the germs.