There are several components to gym etiquette 101, but the first and foremost, or at least it should be, is keeping the facility and its equipment clean.
Considering the constantly revolving door of cliental that has access to the gym, it is vital to keep every single member (and staff member) at optimal health.
Jock itch, fungal infections, warts, lice, athlete’s foot, yeast infections, staph infections — the list is almost endless of the things that you can pick up at the gym.
And let’s not forget COVID!
So for any curious about safety standards at the gym, or just looking for some ideas on how to sanitize equipment at home, let’s ask the question:
What do gyms use to clean their equipment, and how do they do it?
Gym owners and staff are required to clean and sanitize equipment regularly. Most equipment is wiped down many times during the day using a simple antibacterial spray, and further sanitized with an ammonia-based cleaner or a stronger disinfectant at night. Cardio equipment should be unplugged and deep-cleaned on a regular schedule, as well.
Let’s take a closer look!
What products do gyms use to clean their equipment?
When it comes to keeping a gym clean there are usually several options available for use, be it throughout the day or at the end of the night.
Specialized equipment wipes, which are often found inside dispensers on the wall, provide a quick and easy method of cleaning off any bacteria after the use of a piece of equipment or a machine.
As an alternative or addition to the wipes, which can become costly, gyms will often have spray bottles filled with an ammonia-based cleaning solution or an EPA registered antibacterial spray that will help counter any germs, bacteria, or leftover sweat puddles.
If going the route of a spray bottle, it is vital that gyms have a healthy supply of paper towels on hand, which can be used for multiple purposes, including cleaning equipment and also wiping off sweat if a customer forgets their towel.
While wipes and spray bottles are great options for quick use throughout the day, gym staff (or home gym owners) must use a heavy strength anti-bacterial cleaner at least once or twice a day, preferably an ammonia spray or disinfectant aerosol spray, which does not cause any damage to the equipment.
Just as important as it is to keep equipment clean, it is also key for gym staff and cleaning crews to rid floor mats free from any dirt, dust, and bacteria.
Using a high filtration vacuum and a high-quality floor mop helps rid floors of any excess germs and pools of sweat.
Having several hand sanitizing stations located throughout the gym is a simple, yet effective method of instantly killing various bacteria and germs and preventing them from being transferred on pieces of equipment such as free weights and cardio machines.
By placing these bottles or dispensers at the entrance/exit of your gym, by the bathrooms, water fountain, and various stations, customers will appreciate the attention to health and wellness practices.
As a simple wipe down of equipment or your hands just removes the surface germs, sweat, or dirt, a full sanitization of the equipment lowers the risk of spreading infection after the surface has been cleaned.
When doing a deep clean of equipment, gyms treat cardio, free weights, weight machines, and yoga/floor mats differently.
Before cleaning the cardio machines, staff will usually (or should!) the power source, spray a cloth with disinfectant and thoroughly wipe down the machine from top to bottom.
Free weights can also be cleaned with a cloth and spray, with staff making sure to deeply scrub the handles, grooves, and bars that can carry excess chalk, grim, and sweat.
After cleaning a weight machine, gym cleaning staff will generally check to see if the machine needs any lubricant to function properly.
Floor and yoga mats, unlike equipment, can be directly sprayed with cleaner and wiped down.
As you can see, a lot of work goes into keeping equipment at the gym safe, clean, and in working order!
Now it’s time for you to do YOUR part.
Gym Hygiene Tips for Beginners
When it comes to hygiene etiquette and the gym, there are certain unwritten rules that one needs to adhere to in order to keep others healthy.
Don’t go to the gym when you’re sick
Although you may want to try and power through a workout while you are under the weather, realize that you are still likely to spread germs.
Rather than share with others when you are sick, maybe stick to a home workout or some sort of outdoor exercise away from others.
Give others plenty of space
Spatial awareness is key. Kind of like being in the parking lot, if there are plenty of free spaces, don’t park next to a car just because, the same can be said for in the gym.
If other cardio equipment or benches are available, don’t set up shop right next to someone.
Not only do they not want to smell you or have your sweat fly into their area, but chances are you don’t want to be on the receiving end either.
Wash and/or sanitize your hands frequently
Washing your hands before and after your workout is not only important for your health but for others as well.
When you consider everything that you touch from the time you leave your car until the time you finish your workout, chances are you have touched something that has a high number of germs on it.
Sanitizing your hands using the wall-mounted dispensers in your gym is a good idea between exercises or sets.
Avoid touching your face
As mentioned above, the numerous objects that you come in touch with during a trip to the gym are plentiful.
The more that you can avoid bringing your hands near your mouth and nose, the less chance you have of germs and bacteria entering your body.
Cover equipment with a towel during use
Although most gyms will provide you with a towel, though sometimes at a cost, it is important to have two towels that are easily accessible, one for wiping off your sweat and the other for the equipment.
If your gym provides paper towels and wipes, use your extra towel to cover the bench from any head, back, or butt sweat that could be left behind following your workout.
If you are using a towel provided by the gym, make sure that you toss it in the correct bin when done, nobody wants to be somebody’s mother at the gym.
Bring a water bottle
Consider bringing your own water bottle instead of using the water fountain or water dispenser.
Not only are there a lot of hands touching the fountain, but it’s an optimal and extremely yucky place for sweat to pool around, especially on the fountainhead.
You can usually refill your bottle without contacting any surfaces at most gyms.
(Plus, it’s better for the environment vs plastic water bottles!)
Shower before you leave the gym
While some may want to avoid sharing a communal shower, which has its share of germs and bacteria (don’t forget your shower slippers!), you also don’t want to sit in your car all funky and sweaty if at all possible.
Wipe down equipment after you finish
Although you may use a towel to cover up the bench that you are using for your workout, it is courtesy to still wipe off the bench after your finish your set, and good practice to wipe it off even before you start.
Follow COVID protocols
With regards to the current COVID pandemic, each gym may have its own set of rules to follow, depending on the city regulations.
While some places may still require you to wear a mask during your workouts, there are various concerns when it comes to wearing a face covering while exercising.
Not only do masks make it a challenge to breath properly they also trap in sweat, which causes the growth of microorganisms.
If you are required to wear a mask, make sure to take adequate breaks and wash your face immediately after your workout.
For places that do not require masks during exercise, keeping mind of social distance and cleanliness is important.
As great as the gym is for mental and physical health and wellness, it can also be a hotbed of germs.
It’s vital that everybody do their part to keep the spreading of germs, bacteria, and viruses to a minimum at the gym.
Gyms owners and staff need to go through a thorough protocol of regularly cleaning and sanitizing equipment. But it’s also up to members to wipe down sweat, wash hands, and do everything they can to keep each other safe.
For more, check out:
- Do gyms check your credit?
- Do gyms ask for your Social Security Number?
- How do gyms make money?
- How big are gyms on average?
Hope this helps!