We’ve written extensively about the germs and diseases that often inhabit commercial interiors, but when it comes to gym and fitness centers, they have the potential to become cesspools of disease, despite the fact that in public consciousness they are synonymous with healthful living. The warm, moist environments found in gyms provide the perfect haven for bacterial growth, all of which underscores the absolute importance of ongoing, professional hygiene control.
Germs And Bacteria – Locker Rooms, Restrooms And Equipment
As a result of the above, the danger of illness and infection lurk in locker rooms, restrooms and equipment.
According to researchers, gyms are virtually hotbeds of bacterial activity, such as Norvirus, which can survive for a month on the surface of exercise machines and causes stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, and MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant microbe, that can lead to dangerous and even fatal skin infections.
Foot infections too are caused every day by fungi that multiply by the thousands in the shower.
Some Relevant Studies and Statistics
The most recent statistics indicate that 58% of all Americans utilize health club facilities every year. One study published in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine discovered the presence of rhinoviruses on 63% of the gym equipment at tested fitness centers, which included treadmills, exercise bikes and free weights).
The University of Irvine conducted a recent study that came to some very unpleasant conclusions. They collected bacteria from a basketball court, players’ hands and the basketballs themselves, only to discover that the bacteria causing staph infections survive and flourish on a basketball for up to three days! Worse, even after sterilization before a game, the bacteria still transferred from the floor to the players.
Poor hygienic conditions in a gym can be very costly in a number of different ways.The International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association (IHRSA) recently released a Guide to Health Club Cleanliness.
It cited the following statistics: 56% of members surveyed admitted that they expected their gym to be free of germs; those gyms that spent 4% of their budget on maintenance made more money and had higher customer retention rates than those who spent only 3%.
Perception is everything, and if a gym was perceived to be unclean, customer satisfaction ratings fell from 83% to 43% and customer retention rates decreased from 90% to 53%.
Nuffield Health, a British health firm recently conducted a significant survey of health clubs that included about 2,000 gym-goers. Results were startling.
Seventy-four percent of participants admitted that they had seen others failing to wipe down sweaty equipment and 49% admitted to having used water bottles, towels and even toiletries that didn’t belong to them.
Another 18% confessed that they were sick while working out at the gym and 16% admitted that they never washed their gym clothes in between workouts.
The Importance of Enviro-Master And Gym Locker Room Hygiene
Within the gym and fitness industry, competition for new clientele is fierce. There are many facilities that offer the same or at least very similar service, which means that standing out is no easy task.
Gym owners must promote their facilities in the most positive way they can in order to set themselves apart from others of their ilk.
One effective avenue involves utilizing the skill and experience of hygiene sanitation technicians to promote and provide the highest standard of cleanliness that money can buy.
Enviro-Master Pittsburgh Is Cost-Effective & Highly Effective
A clean gym is worth its weight in gold. By its very nature, it is an excessively damp environment where sweat creates moist conditions that are ideal havens for germs, bacteria, mold, mildew and viruses.
For a monthly fee that can be recorded as operating costs, gym owners and managers can enjoy clean showers, lockers and bathrooms that will help to maintain a good facility reputation and improve overall customer satisfaction. This fee can also include the repair, upgrade and replacement of equipment.
Maintaining effective restroom hygiene in a gym or fitness center is serious business and requires comprehensive services, which are best left to the skill and experience of the professionals at Enviro-Master.
Even though a janitorial staff is likely to be on the payroll, this company’s work begins where the cleaning crew finished. This is not to say that a paid staff is not performing its job, but rather addressing the reality that routine cleaning alone simply cannot accomplish the gargantuan task of eliminating pathogens from gym restrooms and other trouble spots.
The Three Most Important Gym Surfaces To Keep Sanitized
1) Locker Rooms
The humid temperatures of a standard locker room in any gym provide the perfect milieu for nasty air-borne bacteria, such as strep and MRSA, to flourish.
According to Phillip Tierno Jr., PhD, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Medical School and the author of The Secret Life of Germs: “The danger starts at ground level. From outdoors, sneakers and other shoes track in fecal matter, which harbors organisms that can cause stomach flu and hepatitis A.”
Studies have also detected traces of vaginal yeast on locker room benches, which means sitting naked on one is a no-no.
Walking around barefoot on the locker room floor or in the shower is not a good idea. Wearing and bringing one’s own flip flops, which are disinfected at home in warm, soapy water every time they have contact with the gym is the best way to avoid athlete’s foot and other nasty skin conditions.
The gym shower stall is literally encrusted with fungi and pathogens that cause infections like athlete’s foot, ringworm and warts.
Gym goers would fare better to wait until they get home to jump into the shower. If deciding to shower at the gym, it is best to always use anti-microbial soap. Shaving there should always be avoided because bugs can find ingress through tiny nicks. Also feet should always be blow-dried to insure they are moisture free.
This category is broad and includes: weights; exercise and yoga mats; weight machines; exercise balls; gym bags; towels; water bottles; cardio machines; pools and showers.
So many people use these amenities and handle, shower or swim in them that the diverse group of pathogens are staggering to consider. In fact, it was recently reported that some gym equipment harbors more germs than a toilet seat!
While free-weights and machine grips do get dirty, they are not porous, such as yoga mats and resistance tubes, which are far more likely to harbor many bacterial formations.
To insure that equipment surfaces are well sanitized, professional sanitation services, such as those offered by the experts at Enviro-Master should be employed.
A study conducted at the University of California Irvine published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, were found on 63 percent of all the gym equipment they tested.
The study also indicated that 73 percent of weight-related gear was contaminated compared to 51 percent of aerobic equipment. The study went on to discover that even cleaning twice a day had little if any effect on these facts.
According to Dr. Pritish Tosh, M.D., infectious diseases physician at the Mayo Clinic: “Bacteria thrive in moist environments, and these squishy things are most likely to absorb users’ sweat and stay moist longer than a flat plastic or metal surface. Rather than trying to clean these things, bring your own. A yoga mat and resistance cords are great investments anyway, because you can use them to exercise at home on lazier days.”
3) Exercise Mats
The way to avoid problems associated with bacteria and mats is to bring your own to the gym and don’t share it with anyone. After each use, clean the mat with a bleach-based wipe or a 60 percent alcohol disinfectant spray. Gym mats attract many microbes that can cause skin infections, athlete’s foot, colds, flu, and hepatitis A.
A Few Other Areas Of Gym Hygiene Concern
Disease-causing microbes can latch onto a gym bag every time it is placed on a bench, in a locker or on the floor. According to Charles Gerba PhD, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona, the most likely pathogens to hitch a ride on a gym bag are: staph, salmonella, E. coli, and pseudomonas, which can cause eye infections.
According to Elaine Larson, PhD and associate dean of research at Columbia University School of Nursing: “Choose vinyl or plastic gym bags because germs and bacteria are less likely to adhere to these materials. Keep dirty clothes and sneakers in a separate compartment or stash them in a plastic bag…If you use a canvas or cloth tote, toss it in the washing machine once a week. Use hot water and a bleach or peroxide-based detergent and then put the bag in the dryer for 45 minutes.”
Grabbing a “clean” towel from a pile at the gym is a ‘no-no’ and then an extra ‘no’. Fibers that could be teeming with E,coli or MRSA lie beyond eye level and what you can’t see, can hurt you.
Philip Tierno also points out that “most gyms use the same hamper to transport dirty towels and clean ones.” He further advises gym goers to bring their own towels to the gym and with a permanent marker, mark an X on one side.
That side should always be in contact with gym machines and the other for wiping off sweat. We offer supplementary paper product programs with strategic placement of towel dispensers, hand sanitizers, soap dispenser and air care systems, which significantly enhances your member’s experience.
Wide-mouthed bottles with screw caps are the best kind to use for workouts at the gym. Avoid those with built-in straws or pull-up spouts. The reason for this is because germs move inside from the rim, and they reproduce quickly. After just a few days of not washing out the bottle, hundreds of thousands of pathogens can thrive at the bottom.
Most experts agree that treadmills, elliptical machines, and spinning bikes are more likely to get wiped down after each use than free weights. The uncomfortable truth is that this does not mean they are clean. Staph, fungi, and yeast pathogens are often found on gym bike seats. One proactive measure entails wiping down machines and seats thoroughly with disinfectant both before and after use.
Gym goers may never feel the same way about that refreshing dip in the gym pool after learning that the Centers For Disease Control asserts that 62% of pool-related diarrhea outbreaks are the result of the pathogen known as cryptosporidium, which is spread by contaminated fecal matter.
In addition, according to Elizabeth Scott, PhD, a co-director of the Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community in Boston, bacteria such as pseudomonas, can cause nasty ear and eye infections.
A host of gram-positive bacteria are at home in humid, moisture-ridden gym restrooms, saunas and steam rooms, just lying in wait for the chance to infect a human host.
Toilet seats, sinks, counter tops, faucet handles and almost any other bathroom surface that is touched by a person infected with MRSA for example, can transmit this nasty infection to anyone who uses the bathroom.
It is essential, and in some cases a matter of life or death, that these surfaces undergo the process of professional sanitation as executed by the bathroom hygiene specialists at Enviro-Master.
The Enviro-Master Story
Founded in 1983, the mother company’s mission is and always has been: Building a healthier world, one restroom at a time. They are an international leader in the provision of hygiene services for public restrooms.
Their franchised business permits them to service clients situated all over the nation. They strive to go that extra mile far beyond the point where a company’s janitorial staff cannot reach.
Their strategies and solutions can be applied to every industry in need and always include a comprehensive hygiene agenda. We’re proud to represent their services throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Gyms, Enviro-Master and The Complete Facility Care Program
Enviro-Master Pittsburgh provides businesses throughout Greater Pittsburgh, Western PA, Cleveland, Eastern Ohio and the West Virginia panhandle a strategic array of hygiene services, including our Sani-Scrub program, our Sani-Services program, one of the most economical supplementary paper products program as well as highly effective air freshener systems via its partnership with internationally renowned ambient scent marketing expert, Air-Scent International.
This comprehensive collective of restroom hygiene services can also be added to any commercial facility as a part of a program called Complete Facility Care, which is offered by Enviro-Master Pittsburgh’s sister company, Pestco Professional Services.
It features the ultimate in pest control and pest management strategies, washroom hygiene services provided Enviro-Master and environmental odor and air freshening solutions supplied by Air-Scent. This vast array of professional services is available under the cost-effective blanket of one highly respected company that has been in continuous operation since 1948.
This special offer ensures that every gym and fitness owner and manager under its thoughtful and professional care can rest easy about bathroom hygiene and attend to other pressing details of daily facility operations.
Satisfaction is guaranteed and clients receive more than their money’s worth in ultimate bathroom hygiene services and the most effective product applications on the bathroom hygiene market today.
Final thought about gyms: The way to get in shape is to go to the gym every single day, change your clothes and take a shower. If you can do that every single day for a month, pretty soon you’ll start doing something while you’re there. ~ Seth Godin
A Few Fun And Interesting Facts About Gyms
Gym Habits Are Usually Influenced By Bank Balances
According to Nuffield Health, people who earn large incomes are more likely to go to gyms than those with lower incomes.
Gym Goers Eat More Chocolate
Market Research World claims that people who go to the gym are thought to be 18% more likely to indulge in chocolate bars.
People Use The Gym To Pick Up Dates
Even though most people hardly look their best when they are going to exercise, a new study conducted by Kettler found that of the 2,000 study participants, a whopping 50% admitted that they only go the gym to check out the opposite sex or meet with friends.
Romance At The Gym
A study conducted by Nuffield Health found that of their more than 2,000 participants, 10.5% of members actually live with someone they met at the gym.
Genetics May Make You Hate The Gym
Researchers at Iowa State University have ascertained that the ability to withstand the pain and exertion of exercise could be up to 50% genetically influenced. They discovered that people born with low respiratory thresholds experience mood drops when exercising, and they were more likely to stop working out sooner than those born with higher respiratory thresholds.
It Seems That Everyone Has A Gym Membership
Of course, that’s just an illusion or is it? According to statistics, around four and half million adults in the United Kingdom have a gym membership, while in America it is estimated that 45 million adults either have a gym membership or are members of a health club.
Post-Christmas Gym Memberships
Over indulging in holiday feasts and treats usually causes an outbreak of health kicks and crash diets at the start of the New Year. According to the Fitness Industry Association, some 12% of all gym members sign up in January and after about 5 months, have either officially quit or just stopped attending.
Many Gym Members Do Not Use The Gym At All
Health club membership in the United States gleans an annual average of about $21 billion. Despite this, it is believed that 80 % of those Americans who pay for a gym membership do not use the gym.