July 19, 2017 3 min read

Ugh! The amount of bacteria on your gym equipment will make you seriously question ever working out again. Not like we’re looking for an excuse *not* to exercise, but if we were looking for a reason to skip the gym in favor of Netflix and pizza, this would be it.

While we’re all well versed on the fact that the world is a germy place and also that disinfectant wipes should be our best friends, it’s easy to forget just how filthy the objects around us every day can be. For example, your phone. Or you beauty brushes. Or even your trusty purse (*cringe*). So of course, it comes as no surprise that public gyms are playgrounds for bacteria. And according to a study conducted by EmLab & PK on behalf of FitRated (a site that compares and rates different kinds of gym equipment), your average treadmill, exercise bike and free weights are ~teeming~ with germs.

Like, *way* more germs than you’d even dream of—eeek!

For starters, do NOT go near the hand weights without some disinfectant in hand. Promise? According to the study, which collected bacteria samples from 27 pieces of equipment across three different gyms, the free weights carried an average of 1,158,381 CFU (which is a colony forming unit, for all of you non-scientific folks).

gym equipment bacteria

Translation: free weights have 362 times more bacteria than your average toilet seat.


The treadmill and exercise bikes performed only slightly better, with averages of 1,333,432 CFU and 1,333,417 CFU respectively. In plain speak, your treadmill has 74 times more bacteria than your water faucet. And that exercise bike is 39 times dirtier than your typical reusable cafeteria tray.

If this has you feeling less than confident about your recent gym membership, then this information isn’t going to help either. According to the study, more than 70 percent of the bacteria detected is potentially harmful to your health, with a range of nasty side effects that include (but are not limited to) skin infections and antibiotic resistance. 

Okay, so… maybe taking a jog in the park sans gym equipment is the ideal exercise alternative if this study has got your gagging (like us). Or perhaps some yoga on your own personal mat is in order. Just promise that whatever you do, you’ll use some hardy disinfectant on your gym equipment, mat, shoes, etc. when you’re done.

*Originally appeared on Yahoo.com


Do You Own A Fitness Center? Follow These Tips To Keep Your Members Healthy & Happy

  • Revisit your facility's existing cleaning and maintenance plan with all key staff and contractors, and determine if any changes need to be made.

  • Train your staff and make sure they are implementing the current plan(s).

  • Inspect and clean equipment and locker rooms immediately before and after your prime-time traffic periods.

  • Encourage your staff to wash their hands regularly with hot water and soap. Provide protective gloves for staff and employees, especially cleaning staff.

  • Revisit your local health codes and the regulations.

  • Keep spray bottles filled with a disinfecting solution, and make towels and/or disposable disinfecting wipes available to members to wipe down surfaces and equipment. (Note: A mix of 3 tablespoons of bleach to one quart of water in a spray bottle can be used to disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces.)

  • Post signage and remind members to clean equipment after use.

  • Assign staff to periodically inspect/clean equipment and surfaces in locker rooms throughout the day.

If you provide towel and/or laundry service:

  • Use bleach when cleaning club towels.

  • Use the hottest water possible and hottest heat setting on dryers for all laundry.

  • Avoid overfilling washers — overloaded washers are less effective.

  • Avoid allowing used towels to pile up for extended periods of time; research has shown that some types of bacteria can survive and thrive in the laundry.

Educate your members:

  • Remind members that regular exercise improves one's immune system.

  • Encourage members to report cleanliness concerns to senior staff and have a system in place for responding promptly.

  • Encourage members to wash hands regularly with hot water and soap.

  • Interview a local physician and collect information from online resources such as www.cdc.gov, then share common tips for protecting oneself in your member newsletter or a special mailing.

Source: Club Cleanliness: Tips & Tactics To Help Your Members Remain Healthy, International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association





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