How to Avoid Gym Germs

What to look for to ensure your gym won't make you sick

Credit: Flickr/Contours Express

Before working out, inspect the fitness facility thoroughly for cleanliness

Gyms and fitness centres, like any public facility, are common places to pick up germs. Here are some tips to avoid getting and spreading germs

Gyms and fitness facilities must pay close attention to cleanliness to ensure the health 
of their patrons. A well-maintained facility greatly reduces the risk for transmission of communicable diseases – from 
athlete’s foot and colds to potentially more serious infections such as staphylococcus 
and E. coli.

What to Look for in a Gym Facility

When joining a fitness centre, inspect the locker room and restroom facilities. Look for hand sanitation stations as well as disinfectant spray bottles and towels throughout the facility for wiping down equipment.

If there’s a hot tub or swimming pool, ask if the number of users is strictly monitored. In addition, there shouldn’t be a strong chlorine odour, and the room should be properly ventilated.

Proper ventilation and air circulation in the workout areas are also important to reduce bacteria and mould.

Looking after Your Health at the Gym

When using workout equipment at the gym:

  • Cover minor cuts or skin irritations before you use gym equipment

  • Use the provided hand sanitizers or carry your own

  • If you perspire heavily, keep a towel with you to protect the equipment and others from dampness

  • Wipe equipment down with disinfectant spray or wipes before and after you use it

  • Cover the seat of an exercise bike or locker room bench with a towel before using
  • Regularly wash your water bottle to prevent bacterial buildup.

how to avoid athlete's foot at the gym
IMAGE: Flickr / lululemon athletica

Your Foot Health
 at the Gym

Locker room floors and shower stalls are the most common places people pick up athlete’s foot (a fungal infection) or plantar warts (caused by human papillomavirus).

To protect against these:

  • Wear flip-flops in the shower

  • Wash your feet with soap and dry them thoroughly

  • Use antifungal powder on your feet

  • Wear socks made from synthetic fibre

  • Change your socks often

  • Wash your gym shoes occasionally in hot water

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.