Generally speaking, gyms, health clubs and fitness facilities are viral and bacterial hotbeds, and the most popular gym equipment as well as shower stalls and dirty towels can be positively riddled with harmful organisms. While this is far from reassuring information for those who live for their work outs and are avid gym goers, to not know this is akin to crossing a busy street without looking both ways. For all gym owners and managers this means there must be only one pro-active attitude, and that is to avoid at all costs becoming the neighborhood gym where members fall ill.
With that, our team has created the following guide, which presents key statistical data, studies and factoids about the germs, bacteria and viruses potentially lurking throughout your workout establishment, some key steps gym goers can take to ensure their own hygienic health as well an introduction to one of the more diverse facility and washroom hygiene control programs for gym owners to consider to better protect the health of their business and their club’s members.
Gym And Fitness Center Hygiene Studies And Statistics
Nuffield Health, a health firm in the United Kingdom recently conducted a significant survey of health clubs polling some 2,000 gym-goers that revealed some startling results. Seventy-four percent of participants admitted that they had seen others failing to wipe down sweaty equipment and 49% admitted to having used water bottles, towels and even toiletries that didn’t belong to them. Another 18% confessed that they were sick while working out at the gym and 16% admitted that they never washed their gym clothes in between workouts.
One recent study conducted at the University of Irvine drew some unpleasant conclusions after collecting bacteria from a basketball court, players’ hands and the basketballs themselves. Researchers discovered that the bacteria causing staph infections survive and flourish on a basketball for up to three days. Worse, even after sterilization before a game, the bacteria still transferred from the floor to the players.
The most recent statistics indicate that 58% of all Americans utilize health club facilities every year. Despite the fact that some researchers believe there is no concrete, scientific evidence that gyms can make you sick, the warm, moist environments found in gyms do provide the perfect haven for bacterial growth.
A recent study published in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine discovered the presence of rhinoviruses (instigators of the common cold) on 63% of the gym equipment at tested fitness centers (including tread mills, exercise bikes and free weights) and concluded that weight equipment was contaminated significantly more than aerobic equipment (73 % versus 51%.) Even more appalling was the fact the study found that even disinfecting the equipment twice a day was ineffective in lowering the virus count.
It is ironic that an establishment such as a fitness center or gym whose sole purpose is to help keep people healthy and fit could also harbor high, toxic levels of bacteria that can make them ill. Assorted bacteria and a host of other unpleasant fungi can cause uncomfortable and sometimes even serious skin conditions if they penetrate human skin.
Five Common Gym Bacteria And Skin Infections
This common bacterium is known to both infect and irritate the skin. According to the Sports Medicine study mentioned above, treadmills have the highest amounts of this organism. Dr. Jason Reichenberg, M.D., the director of dermatology at the University of Texas at Austin, claims that a staph infection can spread from sharing a towel or working out on a dirty bath mat. It appears as a pus-filled or red bump on the skin that is warm to the touch and often becomes swollen. One deadly strain of this infection known as MRSA can be lethal if it spreads into the bloodstream.
According to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, “Shaped like a ring, ringworm is actually not a worm, but a fungus that thrives in wet environments and hits the skin’s top layers.” It appears most often on the torso, upper arms or thighs and is known to cause a rash in some sufferers. Gym goers can easily pick up this fungus by resting arms or legs on a mat someone forgot to wipe down.
- Athlete’s Foot
A form of ringworm that develops on feet, according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, the first sign is usually a conspicuous itch around the soles of the feet and the dry, cracked skin between the toes. This foot fungus is very common in gyms and thrives in locker rooms, showers and other moist environments. It can be treated with over-the- counter sprays that will kill the fungus cells and leave the skin cells intact. This condition should not go too long without treatment, as the fungus can gain a foothold under toenails and cause an enduring infection.
According to Dr. Zeichner, folliculitis is a specific type of staph infection that occurs when bacteria enter the hair follicle’s root and causes inflammation. He goes on to say that its presence is noted by very uncomfortable and tender red bumps and pus-filled pimples on the chest or legs. The bacterium that causes this painful condition is similar to ringworm and is often left behind on a moist and sweaty piece of gym equipment. (This is where an anti-fungal spray before even touching equipment comes in handy.) The direct application of antibiotic ointments can kill this organism.
- Plantar Warts
Plantar warts are caused by the humanpapilloma (HPV) virus, and according to Dr. Reichenberg, they resemble “small, skin-colored bumps speckled with little black dots.” They are usually quite tender to the touch and often appear on either the soles of the feet or palms of the hands. Contaminated gym equipment is the culprit responsible for spreading this virus, suggesting a good reason to keep wipes handy. While over-the-counter treatments can effectively eliminate planter warts, they must be applied very carefully and not touch surrounding skin, as they can easily burn and inflame healthy tissue.
Key Steps Gym Goers Can Do To Promote Personal Gym Hygiene
According to Donna Duberg, assistant professor of Clinical Laboratory Science at Saint Louis University, “the real trick to a cleaner work out session is for gym goers to keep their hands and face protected. Simply be attentive.” She offers the following prevention tips, which we suggest publishing either on your facility bulletin boards or via your newsletters to help deter the spread of cold and flu viruses and other bacteria:
- Get a metal water bottle
The more common plastic water bottles often harbor bacteria and metal is the surest way to keep your bottles clean. They should be washed in hot, soapy water. As good as they are, they won’t help you if you don’t keep an eye on your bottle while exercising to make sure no one else decides to swipe a sip from it.
- Keep hands and exercise station clean
Clean hands help to keep those nasty gym germs at a safe distance. Apply hand sanitizer and wipes both before and after you use each piece of gym equipment. Bring your own if the gym doesn’t offer them.
- Clean your gear
Fungi thrive when confined in dark, moist gym bags. Avoid contamination by placing dirty clothes in a sealed plastic bag before you put them in the gym bag. When you are ready to clean them, empty the contents directly into the washer. Sneakers are important too, and don’t put them in a gym bag without first sealing them into a plastic one. When you get home, wipe them thoroughly, let them air dry and then place them back into the bag.
- Shower pro-actively
According to Diane Duberg, wearing flip-flops while using a public shower does provide a barrier, albeit a flimsy one, between bare feet and the shower room floor. The problem is that once the sandals get wet they become a portal for fungal spores. Soaking sandals often in a 10% bleach solution can help keep them fungus-free.
- If you are sick, stay home
No matter how much you may love your exercise regimen, take a rest from it if you have a bad cold and are sneezing and coughing. Also, avoid going to the gym if you have any kind of open wound. Cover any small nicks or cuts with bandages and never share towels.
If you don’t follow this advice, your germs will spread and infect those near you, which is not usually appreciated. Consider the welfare of others before entering a gym with any kind of upper respiratory infection.
- Avoid hot tubs with an open wound
Jacuzzis and /or common pools should be avoided if you are suffering from an open wound or any type of skin infection. These conditions will not only easily transmit your bacteria, but they will also make you more susceptible to organisms that may already be floating in the water.
Complete Facility Care – Pestco, Air Scent and Enviro-Master Services
For gym owners and managers, one way to rest a little easier is to engage a professional hygiene control program to further ensure your gym remains as bacterial and virus free as possible. For businesses throughout Greater Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, Cleveland and Eastern Ohio areas or anywhere in the West Virginia panhandle, the premier choice is our Complete Facility Care program.
Pests, germs and malodors are one in the same when it comes to presenting an impeccably maintained commercial environment, and while we offer programs to combat each individually, we recognized the hassle that can come to businesses through managing each via several different companies. So we created Complete Facility Care, one conveniently bundled program that handles pest, germ and odor control issues in commercial environments. Our Facility Care program represents a unique assemblage and partnership with two premier companies in the washroom hygiene and air freshening industries.
By aligning with the ambient air care specialists at Air-Scent and the sanitation experts at Enviro-Master, we’ve created the most powerful trio offering for complete facility hygiene care. The environmental odor and air freshening solutions developed by Air-Scent are very easy to install in any gym or fitness center. It takes an estimated 3 to 5 minutes to install a single dispenser and refilling them every month requires even less time. In addition, the restroom sanitation services designed by Enviro-Master provide both a positive customer experience and a healthier gym environment. Complete Facility Care wraps every workplace hygiene need in one simple program.
Better Gym and Fitness Center Health Through Washroom Hygiene
In addition to continuous sanitization of gym equipment, door knobs, water fountains and other key high trafficked areas, along with the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers in your gym lobby, work out areas, spas and restrooms, there are a number of other steps you can take to better ensure a healthy environment — and it starts and finishes with your washrooms.
As a business owner, it’s important to note that customers will always equate the state of a company restroom with the cleanliness of the rest of the business, whatever it may be, and in the case of gyms and fitness centers, the emphasis on health and cleanliness is vital to both operations and reputation. So, as a part of our ever expanding mission to combat the germs, pests and malodors that inhabit commercial facilities, we have incorporated the unyielding services of Enviro-Master into our commercial pest management and odor control arsenal.
Enviro-master is known as the leading washroom hygiene service for all types of businesses and industries, and the powers-that-be behind Enviro-Master firmly believe that adding a full or partial-facility air freshener service can lead to happier customers and healthier employees, which can in the long run, improve business traffic and increase profits.
Their high-quality products and services for public restrooms work across a wide range of industries, including: restaurants, nursing homes, churches, dance studios, schools, office buildings, retail stores, apartment buildings, doctor’s offices and above all else, gyms and fitness centers.
Enviromaster’s range of operations includes: Rockville, Columbia, Frederick, including Howard County, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County, Frederick County, and Prince George’s County in Maryland as well as Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia, and now Pestco Professional Services brings Enviromaster to businesses throughout Greater Pittsburgh, all Western Pennsylvania Counties, Cleveland and Eastern Ohio and the West Virginia panhandle.
Enviro-Master Washroom Products and Materials
Public restrooms reflect a company’s attitude towards those who use them and they require special attention and care. Our technicians are well aware that most Americans fail to wash their hands properly after using the restroom, which allows any bacteria that they may have come in contact with while in the stall to spread to the sink, paper towel dispenser, and any other surfaces they may have touched. When a toilet seat either doesn’t have a lid or isn’t closed during flushing, low levels of fecal bacteria will contaminate not only the toilet seat but also the entire stall area.
Through our Enviro-Master partnership, we offer unique sanitizing materials and specialized techniques that will provide all types of businesses with a truly sanitized restroom and healthy environment that can make any business proud. Our industrial chemicals are cost-effective and environmentally sound. The bacterial agents in our cleaning products provide an unparalleled “deep down” clean. The Norovirus Spill Kit Service, for example, is extremely efficient in cleaning up liquids such as vomit, blood and diarrhea, which are known to spread disease. This product has been approved in all fifty states and meets all stipulations for combating Norovirus and other potentially pathogenic spills.
For gyms and fitness centers particularly, our Wellness Wipes are designed to kill 99% of MRSA and other serious bacteria/viruses that are often found on gym equipment. Other products such as paper towels and cleaning items are priced so low that other suppliers cannot match them, and our monthly costs often offset the cost of our quality services. We’re all about offering value and impeccable services at affordable prices.
Take heed, all gym and fitness center owners and managers. Don’t become the neighborhood gym where members become ill! Do your homework and don’t rely on your janitorial staff alone to keep your facility in tip-top shape. Call us today with any of your individual facility maintenance emergency or take advantage of our Complete Facility Care program.
Call the experts at Pestco today.
Final thoughts on gyms and fitness: Fitness is about so much more than exercise. It is a catalyst for positive changes, and it affects every aspect of your life. ~ Pinterest