Avoiding hidden germs at the gym
We all know that gyms aren’t the most sterile places. Even when a gym invests a lot of time and effort into cleaning, it can be hard to keep up with the sheer volume of sweaty people rolling in and leaving their mark. You may even have a couple of post-training habits that could be described as ‘hygiene mistakes’.
There’s no need to become obsessive germophobes. You’re going to get dirty. But if you find yourself experiencing an unexplained rash, an onset of pimples or catching more colds than usual, there are a few things you could do to clean up your training.
Always bring a clean towel
This is one of the easiest ways to avoid hygiene issues. I previously wrote about the importance of using a clean towel to wipe sweat off your face. If you want to avoid breakouts on your face, this is key. It’s also a good idea to place your towel on the mats before doing core work or stretching. This is good etiquette to keep things clean for the next person about to use the space. Plus, it creates a barrier between your skin and any fluids or bacteria on the surface of the mat.
Cover any cuts or broken skin with a bandage
Basically, other people don’t want to pick up your DNA and you don’t want germs getting in. I had a cut on the bottom of my big toe the first time I trained in Thailand. Every day before training I had to wrap my entire toe in strapping tape to keep the band-aid in place, but it was worth it to avoid infection.
Keep sweaty clothing separate
If you keep throwing sweaty clothing straight into your gym bag, but never wash your gym bag, it can accumulate a lot of bacteria. Instead, you could put your sweaty clothes into a plastic bag or smaller washable bag before throwing into your gym bag.
Air out your gear
Putting on gloves that are still wet inside from yesterday’s training is never that fun. Plus, wet conditions make it easy for bacteria to multiply. Although it’s tempting to keep boxing gloves and shin pads in your car boot, it’s a good idea to leave them somewhere open-air, like a balcony or porch, so they can air out overnight.
Wash your drink bottle
Even if they have just had water in them, drink bottles can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If you think about the amount of sweat and other fluids that ends up on them while you train, it makes sense. It’s best to wash your bottle after every session with hot soapy water. Stainless steel or glass water bottles are easiest to clean thoroughly.