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Germs at the Gym: Where They Lurk! Gag!

Health club facilities, ironically, might make you sick. Since 90% of gym activity surrounds contact, primarily with objects and equipment, it might be wise to wipe down every, single piece of equipment before beginning your workout — especially since many people simply do not wash their hands after using gym-stall bathrooms! Gag!

According to Dr. Philip Tierno, a microbiologist at New York University, “Eighty percent of all infectious disease is transmitted by contact.” Best advice, always, ALWAYS, wash your hands — completely — after your workout. Here are the 10 filthiest places where germs lurk in gyms:

1. Dumbells

Quick turnaround, multiple sequence equipment harbors the most germs of all gym equipment. Dr. Tierno, worked with ABC News calls this on of the “highest risk areas” at the gym, “You’re leaving that machine, and someone else follows you and your germs that you leave behind.”

2. Bike seats

Staphylococcus aureus re-charged. MRSA is a strain of this bacteria that is carried on the skin and the nose and is resistant to conventional antibiotics such as amoxicillin and penicillin. It is spread via contact with contaminated equipment, including  bike seats, pedals and other objects normally touched while working out. Oh Lord! So no short, shorts!

3. Bench Press

Gravity is the main culprit here as this piece of equipment encourages that the user be laying down. Sweat has no choice but to roll off and lay surreptitiously on the padded, black bench press. Do you know, (this is embarrassing) once I was spotting someone, and my sweat rolled off my forehead, trickled down my nose, clung to my chin and landed right in the “spotees” left eye! Man, I felt like crumb.

4. Shower floor, wall and curtain

One tester classified the amount of germs on the shower floor as “unbelievable quantities,” using the word “innumerable” twice. Tinea Pedis, or Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection of the skin and is highly contagious, and usually spread in locker room environments (and swimming pools). It thrives in warm, humid environments. Now, new research has shown that “water spurting from shower heads can distribute pathogen-filled droplets that suspend themselves in the air and can easily be inhaled into the deepest parts of the lungs,” according to Norman Pace from the University of Colorado. Although researchers suggest that this “shouldn’t concern average, healthy people.”

5. Boxing gloves

Sniff, sniff. What’s that smell? It’s the sweat residue left on fabric combined with a dark, enclosed area creating a breeding ground for germs. Bacteria thrives in humid environments such as the insides of boxing gloves. As a matter of fact, a gym swab performed by Men’s Fitness magazine recently discovered that in humid areas the size of quarter, there are 132 million species of bacteria.

6. Gym Mats

Scary! The highly contagious herpes virus, quite possibly, lurks on the very mats you may be using to cushion your knees and stretch your back. Herbert DuPont, a medical science professor at the University of Texas, attributes this possibility to residual sweat that remains on the mats, creating breeding grounds for this viscous, viral disease.

7. Towels

Did you know that gyms and health clubs are not governed by the same regulations as that of hospital? These regulations determine the actual temperature at which towels must be washed. FYI: If your fortunate to belong to a gym that hands out free towels (mine does), be mindful that this is probably quite costly for the facility. Save the environment: BYOT.

8. Sneakers

According to a survey, running shoes have 76 times more fungi than the inside of a toilet bowl. Bring those into the gym, areas where peoples hands often contact the same surface as peoples feet, and you can see why hand washing should be mandatory prior to getting your parking validated.

9. Water bottles

Ever throw your bottle in your gym bag? The same gym bag with your running shoes? A Canadian study reported “significant levels of fecal bacteria” in water drunk from re-used water bottles.

10. Sauna

2.17 million bugs in a teaspoon of hot tub water, this according to a research team from Texas A&M University. Needless to say, these bugs harbor bacteria from feces — all of which was present in a shockingly disturbing 95% of hot tubs and saunas. Added to that, the warm temperature makes this a proverbial petri dish.

  • Gag indeed! This is just straight up nasty. RT @stefanpinto: Germs at the Gym: Where They Lurk! Gag!:

    Howcast (@Howcast)

    11:55 am

  • This is very interesting and informative. I usually wash my hands immediately after using the gym equipment. But, I do reuse my water bottles. I also heard that you should not wash your water bottles in the dishwasher as it lets off toxins. Anyone else hear of this?


    11:30 pm

  • Posting this on my Facebook wall! People are so gross!


    11:42 pm

  • I rinse my water bottle before putting it in the bag, but that makes no sense. My gym has plastic bags for swimming gear and I use that to dispose of dirty clothing, but I am going to use freezer bags to store my water bottle and protein drink container. I dont wear gloves anymore either and if taking a shower at the gym I wear my flip flops in there

    Bonnie Sayers

    9:10 pm

  • The Girls locker room is just gross. I dont wear shorts at the gym and sometimes sit on a towel when doing the bike. I like the remodeled gyms as their equip is new and so are the barbells, never thought about that. I use a towel on the smith machine

    Bonnie Sayers

    9:06 pm

  • Definitely disgusting.

    Rich Sobel

    1:42 pm

  • Oh man! LOL! Yeah, it’s true though. Lots of people are just pigs at the gym

    Adam Kastoria

    1:57 am

  • Germs at the Gym: 10 Filthiest – and Scary – Places: via @stefanpinto @autismfamily @joycecherrier


    12:26 am

  • I think it really depends on the gym. Frankly, gyms that do *not* provide towels are suspect. What choice do people have? And if you forget your towel, you’re going to end up using an old, wet, stinky one that is now filled with bacteria (hence the funky smell). Wash your hands, people!

    Stefan Pinto

    10:27 pm

  • The towel is your best friend in the gym. I also commend gyms whose staff periodically spray the contact points of their equipment with disinfectant. We all go to the gym to get healthier, not get sick. :)


    9:11 pm

  • The point of this article is an attempt to encourage hand washing. It may have been Rudolph Giuliani who commented that handshaking should be outlawed as the vast majority of people simply do not wash their hands. I am sure there is just as shocking “germ” incubators found in the likes of movie theaters, supermarkets and water parks.

    Stefan Pinto

    8:59 pm

  • @bookieboo I don’t think I can step foot in a gym now. THANKS a lot! RT Germs at the Gym: Gag!: via @stefanpinto

    Brittany (@PrettyHandyGirl)

    8:48 pm

  • There is a woman at my gym who never wipes off anything after she uses it. I’ve seen her go from free weights to machines to the elliptical to the treadmill & then just walk out. So. Gross.


    8:45 pm

  • “Germs at the Gym: Where They Lurk! Gag!” aka “How to Put People Off Joining a Gym”

    This is gross, although very interesting. I’d like to know though, how many people who go to gym actually gets sick from all of this.


    8:37 pm

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