How cleaning and maintenence can protect against germy gyms
13 February 2012
We go to the gym to get fit and stay healthy but can they be making us sick?
We know that germs are everywhere and it is inevitable that we will be coming into contact with them no matter how good the cleaning routines in place and cleaning supplies being used are. The fact remains that when we have high numbers of people in a particular environment then there will be higher instances of germs being transferred from person to person and causing illnesses.
The gym can be a particularly germy environment through no fault of the management who are most probably ensuring that they are using bactericidal cleaning supplies before they open their doors to the public and once again when they close in a bid to keep the place as clean and germ free as possible - The problems arise during opening hours due to the very nature of a gym being a place where many people are in close contact with equipment in close succession to one another.
What germs do we need to protect against?
So what do we need to be diligent about? Its the cold season and there are much more cold and flu viruses about.
If someone has coughed or sneezed on a surface then the virus can be contracted if a person subsequently touches that surface - the same goes for someone with a cold touching a surface or a piece of gym equipment then they could well be leaving their cold or flu virus behind for the next gym user to pick up.
A study in the U.S where four New York gyms were tested and found to be harbouring millions of bacteria on pretty much every surface swabbed.
Some of the germs found were what we would expect to find on our skin anyway, however, E-Coli was detected and in particular numbers on the mats and shower areas.
At every gym the researchers found pseudomonas which can cause quite nasty skin rashes. Again the shower area and mats were found to be infected with this bacteria.
The most concerning of all the findings was the presence of staph aureus found in a changing room seating area - this could put people at risk of contracting MRSA if they touch equipment or a surface contaminated and then touch an open wound or scratch the infection can then enter their body.
One lady gym user actually contracted MRSA at her local gym in Napperville, speaking of her ordeal Shelby Hoff said that she "never thought a workout could cause a life threatening illness and at one point her arm swelled so big that her skin broke open" Her hand has since healed but she still suffers from numbness from time to time.
Moving away from the gym area itself another place to be cautious about is the changing room/shower room floors. Many people are walking about barefoot on these surfaces and leaving themselves at risk of picking up skin infections such as Athletes Foot - a fungal infection which easily spreads to other parts of the body.
It is important to remember that germs thrive in damp, wet and warm places and so sinks, shower areas, floors and saunas are all possible hotspots for us to be mindful of.
Cleaning & hygiene steps to protect ourselves
Gym users are advised to use their towel to wipe down equipment after they have used it but havent we all seen people forgetting to do this or simply wiping over with a towel which does not remove all the the sweat residue or any bacteria.
- A bactericidal spray cleaner is required to wipe down equipment and mats before and after each use. The gym should really be making these cleaning supplies readily available along with paper wipes of some form.
- Hand sanitiser should also be available for people to use as and when they need to during their time at the gym.
- Gym users should wash their hands with a bactericidal hand soap before and after their workout.
- Take your own towel with you - you dont know if the gyms are actually disinfecting their towels.
- Flip flops should be worn in changing rooms or shower areas - dont go barefoot!
- Flip flops should be dried out at home and not left in changing bags.
- Gym bags can be germy so make sure your is regularly washed.
- Shower before leaving the gym - the sooner germs which may cause skin infections are washed off - the better.
- Dont go to the gym if you are unwell.
- Use a towel to protect equipment from sweat.
- Place a towel down before you sit on mats or equipment.
- Be sure to use a bactericidal spray cleaner before you lie on a mat - or ideally take your own.
- Try not to touch your face too much.
- Drink from bottled water - Water fountains have been found to harbour millions of germs so avoid these if possible - if you do use them allow the water to run for twenty seconds and do not let your mouth contact with the tap.
- If you have any cuts or wounds be sure to cover them up with a dressing or waterproof plaster.
- Tell the gym's management if you are concerned about their cleaning and cleanliness standards.
Cleaning supplies we recommend for gyms
Cleaning supplies are an important area of purchasing for any gym. People attend gyms to keep fit and expect a high standard of cleanliness in what can be an environment with high potential for cross contamination.
When choosing the correct cleaning product for the job an assessment should be made as to the potential risks. We would always recommend cleaning supplies with proven bactericidal properties. This is especially relevant for areas where there are high volumes of people in quick succession to one another having close contact with surfaces.
The cleaning needs to be happening before the establishment opens and after closing - this will need to be a deep clean of public areas to include;
- Shower areas - floors, walls, fittings
- Changing room floors, benches, fittings, lockers
- Sauna floors
- Gym equipment
- Floor mats
- Toilet floors
- Toilets and sink areas
- Entrance door handles and push plates
A great product within our range of cleaning supplies is the Lime Disinfectant Cleaner and the Violet Cleaner Concentrate both are effective cleaners and excellent disinfectants. Ideal for mopping or may be diluted and used through trigger sprays for surface and equipment wiping.
A gym should have available a bactericidal cleaner in the form of a spray which gym users and staff alike can use throughout the day to ensure equipment and mats are properly cleaned and disinfected before and after each use. This would greatly impact on a bug count should the surfaces be swabbed when correct cleaning procedures are being adhered to.
Gym staff should be trained on infection control and all gym members should be made aware of their responsibility to use the bactericidal spray cleaner with the paper supplied.
We would recommend our Spray & Wipe a ready to use fragranced cleaner which cleans and disinfects in one operation. It is independantly tested by the british analytical board and proven effective against MRSA.
If we can help with any queries regarding our cleaning supplies or infection control then, please do not hesitate to contact us. We shall be pleased to be of assistance.