Free weights, exercise bikes, and treadmills have two things in common. They help people become more fit and they each harbor over 1 million colony-forming units per square inch. All of those bacteria come from the numerous health club members who use the equipment during their workout routines. Sharing gear, machines, and common areas means germs spread easily in gyms; however, there are measures that owners and managers can take to reduce the risk and keep staff and customers healthy.
High Demand for Hygiene
It is estimated that there are nearly 200,000 health clubs and 145 million people in the world who hold gym memberships. As so many visit these facilities, it is no wonder that germs accumulate so rapidly. A study of workout equipment found that 70% of the bacteria found were potentially harmful to people. Gram-negative rods, 90-95% of which are likely pathogenic, made up 31% of the bacteria found during this study. Another 41% of the microorganisms found were gram-positive cocci, which can cause skin infections and pneumonia.
Where to Start
Knowing the hot spots for germs is necessary for reducing the spread. The following surfaces and objects are the most commonly contaminated:
- Free weights
- Weight machines
- Cardio equipment
- Exercise mats and balls
- Medicine balls
- Locker room benches and showers
- Water fountains
Providing surface sanitizing wipes, and dispensers of surface sanitizer and paper towels throughout the facility will make it easy for patrons to consistently wipe down machines, weights, and other exercise equipment before and after each use. Employees will also be able to wipe down gear and high-touch areas regularly. As there are many different kinds of bacteria and viruses found in fitness centers, broad-spectrum formulas are necessary to eliminate the most germs and protect everyone. Shared surfaces in locker rooms, like benches and shower stalls, need to be looked after too. Customers should wipe down areas where they have sat and left their bags, and gyms should advise that flip-flops are ways worn in the showers.
Healthy Pools and People
Showering is important for members who plan to use the facility’s swimming pool. The cleaner swimmers are, the cleaner the pool will be for everyone using it. As 62% of diarrhea outbreaks from pools are the result of chlorine-resistant Cryptosporidium, users should be advised to shower before entering and after swimming. Providing hair and body shampoo makes this a fast and easy task for everyone, while reducing the chances of sickness and skin irritation developing.
Don’t Forget the Restroom
Members and employees will need to use the bathroom during their time at the gym, which makes automatic flush systems a great way to reduce cross-contamination, keep toilets clean, and prevent odor. Everyone will need to wash their hands after this, and the most hygienic way to do so is with automatic fixtures like soap dispensers, faucets, and air hand dryers. The no-touch feature prevents the spread of germs, which means cleaner hands for everyone within the facility.
The more owners and managers invest in the hygiene of their gyms, the healthier the environments will be for staff and customers. A few upgrades paired with regularly scheduled maintenance could make all the difference in your business.