How to avoid germs at the gym? Exercise caution and cleanliness

Keeping workout equipment clean is the best way to keep from bringing a bug home from your workout. (WTHR photo)

FISHERS, Ind. (WTHR) - Losing weight and getting more exercise are always at the top of New Year's resolutions.

Going to the gym seems like a good idea, right? Except it's the height of cold and flu season and gyms can be a breeding ground for germs.

Asked about that, Tianna Warr smiled and said, "especially in a gym. There's a lot of body fluids people don't think about."

And a lot more people at health clubs after January 1. Warr and her fiance, Byron Beard, were working out at the Fishers YMCA Thursday afternoon.

"Every time we get done with something, she makes sure we wipe everything down and we still get sick," Beard laughed.

So, how do you reduce your chances of catching something? We went to StudioFitnez in Fishers and talked to owner Vanessa Gregor who is a self-described cleaning fanatic.

Not surprisingly, she began with, "first and foremost, wash your hands before and after" working out.

And it's best to assume everything is germ-laden, be it treadmills, weight machines, dumbbells or gym bags and water fountains.

Stepping on a treadmill with a towel and bottle of disinfectant she said, "spray anywhere your hands and fingers touch the console or machine...I often do the side (railings) because we often hang on the handle bars...and those get the grimiest."

She also sanitizes benches and yoga mats before and after use and uses a can of Lysol to spray the hand dumbbells, which she said is "a great way for gym owners and managers to keep dumbbells clean and disinfected."

Saunas, showers and locker rooms can also be breeding grounds for germs. That's why it's a good idea to wear flip-flops and avoid going barefoot and to wear a towel while sitting in the sauna.

When getting out of the shower, Gregor said, "there's nothing wrong with taking one towel and placing it on the ground and grabbing another one to dry off."

Even the water fountain can harbor germs. She said it's best to bring your own water bottle and if you have to use the water fountain, let it run for a few seconds.

The Fishers YMCA, like many fitness centers, provides wipes and sanitizers, so use them.

But as Gregor said, don't let fear of getting sick keep you from the gym. "In order to keep your immune system good, you need to work out," just exercise caution while doing so.

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