Common Germs Found at the Gym

All the Places Germs Hide at the Gym and How to Stay Healthy

Sometimes, getting to the gym is already difficult enough. That’s why when you’re in the facilities, the last thing in your mind should be the possible germs you might get. It’s proven by a survey that tested out 1,000 gym-goers that their biggest pet peeves are the sanitary practices of these locations.

For example, more than 50% of these respondents say that people who went to the bathrooms didn’t wash their hands while continuing gym equipment use. 35% of male respondents admitted that they didn’t wipe the weights after use while 25% of females did the same with cardio equipment.

Given with the current situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s better to be aware of some gyms that lurk in the gym. Here are some of the more common microbes you’ll find while handling unclean equipment:

Staph Bacteria

MRSA can thrive on certain gym equipment like machines, mats, and free weights. They can also live in locker rooms, especially on towels and benches. To protect yourself from these, you need to use antibacterial wipes or sprays gyms give.

As an alternative, you can use your towel to protect yourself from the unclean equipment. It’s a sad fact that a lot of people don’t wipe the equipment before and after usage. That’s why you need to take other preventive measures to ensure your safety.

For example, if you have open wounds, make sure to cover them up before working out. This decreases the probability of skin infections. Don’t touch your face after touching any surface in the gym since this puts you at risk for potential pathogens.

As soon as you’re done with your workout, take a shower. Make sure to use the soap since it will remove germs that you came in contact with while exercising. Also, wash your clothes and dry them regularly.

Fungal Infections

Dermatophytes often cause fungal infections like athlete’s foot and jock itch. This group of fungi can also cause ringworm infections. In most cases, you can get them from the locker room, depending on the quality of their environment.

The athlete’s foot comes from fungi that live around you. But they’re especially active if you’re in a damp, wet environment. To prevent this from happening, make sure to change out of your sweaty clothes, washing them and airing them out as soon as you’re home.

Another way to avoid fungal infections is to change your shoes regularly. This gives it some chance to air out and prevent fungal growth. You can also wear moisture-wicking materials to help make sweat evaporates even while you’re working out.

Walking across the gym floor barefooted will also put you at risk. That’s why you need to cover your feet even when you’re in the mats. That way, you won’t need to worry about getting any fungi when you get home.

All the Places Germs Hide at the Gym and How to Stay Healthy


Here are some viruses you should be aware of:

Plantar Warts

In most cases, plantar warts develop on your heels or the balls of your feet due to human papillomavirus (HPV). Again, this is easily preventable if you’re not walking barefoot on surfaces where it thrives. That’s why you should avoid moist, wet floors.

Take a shower and make sure you rinse your body thoroughly with clean water. 

Mat Herpes

Another virus that you should watch out for is Herpes gladiatorum, commonly known as mat herpes. It comes from the herpes simplex virus type 1.

This herpes comes from Roman Empire wrestlers due to the close contact required by the sport. Today, some athletes playing contact sports can contract this disease. To prevent this from happening, make sure not to share equipment and towels while cleaning your own.

Respiratory Viruses

A lot of people take “gym is life” seriously. That’s why these people will try to go to the gym even when they aren’t supposed to, especially when they’re sick. As someone who needs to have a germ-free gym session, you need to be vigilant.

If you see people coughing, sneezing, or showing any symptoms of shedding, avoid the area they exercised on. Do your best not to go there for at least a minute to ensure that the airborne pathogens disperse. Wipe down all the equipment you use, which helps decrease your risk of picking up viruses from the surfaces.

Another thing to consider is to intervene with the sick person. That means you should ask them if they could cover their cough. Ask politely and offer tissues and hand sanitizers if you can.

The good news is that the public water fountains and coffee pots offered at the gym aren’t causes of concern. After all, as long as you’re in a reputable establishment, their food and drink are fit for reasonable hygiene. Regardless, practice common sense and bring your reusable cup when you need to drink some energizing coffee.

When it’s cold and flu season, make sure to get a flu shot and maintain good hygiene. In most cases, you’ll get the flu because you touch a dirty surface or due to the sick gymgoers constantly sneezing and coughing around you. So, before you touch the weights or your face to wipe off your sweat, make sure to keep your hands clean.

All the Places Germs Hide at the Gym and How to Stay Healthy

Final Thoughts

You can contract germs while you’re at the gym. But the benefits of a good workout will always outweigh this risk. That’s why you should continue going and get your body to a better shape.

Take note, most people exaggerate the risks of infectious diseases when going to the gym. After all, it’s something news outlets often report on. The truth is that these incidents aren’t commonplace, except when you’re in a disreputable gym.

Right now, more people die every day due to cardiovascular disorders and other lifestyle-related diseases. Going to the gym will help with that by bolstering your body. Once you get fit, you can worry less about getting diseases.

Do your best to maintain good hand hygiene while covering up wounds and your feet. Wipe down the equipment before and after you use them. Bring your towels and mats to ensure you’re safe from germs.

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Founder, Editor-In-Chief // A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, ICANN, and Raytheon. A mentor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Entrepreneur School, Dr. David Choi. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; and invested in some. // Let's Connect:

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