Gym germs generate concern over hygeine

By Nicole Ruse, Copy Editor

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If you work out at the URC Fitness Center at Eastern, you may be picking up more than your average hand weight while exercising.

Germs and viruses are right at your fingertips. They cannot be seen, but they are there.

More needs to be done by users of the URC Fitness Center to ensure that the machines and exercise equipment get properly cleaned after their intended use.

According to Fitness Magazine, norovirus can survive for a month on the surface of exercise machines, which can cause stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Many foot infections are caught in the showers of locker rooms at the gym mostly if the proper sandals aren’t worn. Microbes such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, is also a common bacteria found in gym showers and on fitness equipment. The hot spots for germs at the gym are free weights, weight machines and exercise balls.

Students who also use exercise mats for yoga poses or simply to stretch before a hard cardio workout could be lying in a slew of microbes that can cause skin infections, athlete’s foot and hepatitis A.

On multiple accounts, I have witnessed people at the gym who are working out really hard, whether it is on an elliptical or a treadmill. They are sweating every last drop onto the machine they’re using, only to finish their workout and casually walk away without even wiping it down.

My semi-germaphobe instincts kick in, and I suddenly want to hunt that person down and tell them to wipe down their machine. The more people who use the equipment, the more germs it likely has on it. If one person doesn’t wipe down their machine, and the person after them barely wipes it down, those germs live on that machine and grow.

In addition, a study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that 63 percent of machines that had been disinfected still had traces of rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, as well as staph, fungi and yeast on gym bike seats.

By simply washing your hands before and after you work out, as well as wiping down your machine thoroughly with an anti-bacterial spray and cloth – which the fitness center provides – you’re stopping nasty germs and viruses from spreading.

Furthermore, it shouldn’t be the job of the URC Fitness instructors or workers to have to clean up the machines after they’re used. The same goes with janitors: They aren’t there to clean up after you; they are there to assist you.

Germs even live on the water bottle you use at the gym. According to Fitness Magazine, when you take a sip of water during your workout, germs move into your bottle and quickly reproduce from the rim. Thousands of bacteria can reside at the bottom. Using the water bottle after just a few days of not washing it can be the equivalent of drinking from a public swimming pool. Thoroughly cleaning your water bottle with soap and water after a gym session is vital.

Doing these simple tasks at the gym will make the fitness center a cleaner and happier place. The more people who clean up after themselves at the gym, the less likely germs will be there. And fewer people, like me, won’t be grossed out.

There’s another gym etiquette topic that needs to be discussed: cellphones. Do I really have to mention this? Yes, because there are signs all over the fitness center for the same reason I’m about to give: Cellphones are a distraction. They are annoying when I am trying to politely ask you to scoot over for the runners on the indoor track, but you cannot hear me because you’re talking to your friend on the phone.

Please use the gym to work out and get healthy, not to socialize extensively. I am totally for going to the gym with friends who are there to push you to work hard, yet texting while walking the indoor track is bothersome.

Turn off your cellphone and put it in a locker downstairs. Your phone calls, voicemails and texts aren’t going anywhere.

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