BY: MICHAEL SIMMER BS, CSCS, LMT, FST-1, TPI-1
With Fall and “Winter” approaching (I use the term winter loosely living in Arizona), we can expect to see some change of leaf color in certain areas, enjoy cooler temperatures and participate in fun holiday activities. Unfortunately, with Fall and Winter also comes the increased risk of encountering the influenza virus. To keep our immune systems on guard to fight illness, maintaining regular exercise becomes even more important; however, the gym can harbor many germs that you might not be aware of. Despite amazing cleaning crews, gym equipment is touched by many people throughout the day and that can lead to the spreading of germs and potentially result in illness. This article is not intended to scare you off from working out at the gyms in Scottsdale, but instead provide you with tips and tricks to help you steer clear of the flu while also helping your fellow gym members do the same. Not to mention, these are also good gym practices to implement anytime of the year! They just become even more important during the flu season.
- Wipe off equipment after you are done using it.
Think of one person who enjoys laying their head in someone else’s sweat… I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a single person. It is common courtesy to wipe off any equipment after you are done using it. The person using it after you, will not only thank you for it, but will hopefully model after you and do the same. If you notice perhaps someone forgot to clean off a piece of equipment and you are about to use it, be safe and clean it before and after.
- Keep those hands clean
Wash your hands before and after the gym. This way you are keeping the equipment cleaner when using it and rid your hands of excess germs before heading home. Also, feel free to utilize the hand sanitizer that is provided; it should be your best friend!
- Feeling ill? Stay home.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t advise you to skip out on the gym. However, if your immune and energy systems are depleted your workout will not be very efficient. Also, when you come to the gym ill, you run the risk that you may pass on your sickness to other members. You can see how that easily turns into a flu snowball! Play it safe: drink your fluids, rest up and see how you feel the next day.
- Not ill, but perhaps allergies? Be mindful of your manners.
Try to avoid coughing and/or sneezing into your hands as those puppies are what encounter practically everything during your gym visit. Try coughing/sneezing into your shoulder, elbow or shirt to avoid spreading germs onto everything you touch. If you need to blow your nose, make sure you wash your hands afterwards. If the coughing and sneezing are out of control, maybe that’s a sign to wrap up your workout and try again the next day.
- Bring a towel
Lying a towel down before using equipment can minimize your cleaning time and make things easier in a group setting. People can share equipment with you and you can easily place the towel and remove it before their turn to use it. It also makes it helpful for you, to keep sweat out of your eyes without having to use your t-shirt. It’s a win-win!
As I mentioned, this is not to create fear in anyone reading this article. There should be awareness brought to the fact that illness can spread quickly in the gym, but there are preventative measures that can be taken. If you begin practicing these 5 tips, you can stay healthy and active; while ensuring all your fellow gym members do the same.