ShFIT Talk #17 - Gym Etiquette and Hygiene
🤔 Did you know that Staph bacteria (Staphylococcus infections) and MRSA can live on gym equipment, such as machines, free weights, and mats, as well as on towels, benches, and in locker rooms.
🤔 Did you know that handlebars on elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary bicycles and weight machines are among the dirtiest places in gyms.
We all have an idea about gym etiquette and hygiene but since the gyms are slowly reopening after months of being closed thanks to Covid19 now is as good a time as any to chat about it.
Especially since Covid19 doesn’t have a vaccination yet and it doesn’t look like it is going anywhere anytime soon.
Let's start with some of the basic rules that we should all follow when walking into a gym. Regardless of if you are a regular there every day with your crew, work there, or going in for the first time!
RE-RACK YOUR WEIGHTS! You see the signs up everywhere yet so often people finish a set and just get up and walk away. Leaving the next person to spend valuable time wondering around the gym trying to find the other damn 35 lb dumbbell like a fool. You picked up the weights, you proceeded to lift the weights repeatedly, it can’t be that difficult to walk your happy behind back over and re-rack them when you are done. You expect to see the weights on the rack when you walk up to it, well so do others. Let's all work together and put things away when we are done.
WIPE DOWN YOUR EQUIPMENT AFTER USING IT! Nothing is as gross as walking up to a bench all psyched to do your next few sets only to look down and see the last person's body outline in sweat glistening on the bench. Who wants someone else sweating all over their body….I mean, unless you are in jiu-jitsu...we just sweat all over each other...sometimes in each other's mouths….Scott...I see you. Ok, sorry got a little distracted there. But seriously, clean up after yourself, we are not your mother, you are a grown adult. Just do it!
ASK BEFORE YOU USE! Don’t just assume that someone isn’t using a piece of equipment because they are not on it at that exact moment. Maybe they got up to grab some water, maybe they went to get a towel to wipe it down, maybe they are just super-setting it with push-ups or something next to it. Don’t be that dick who just walks up and starts using the squat rack or Lat Pull down machine without asking. It doesn't hurt anyone to just say. “Are you using that?” Even if they are, sometimes they will say “Its my last set” or “yah, but you can rotate in if you want”
PERSONAL SPACE! We are all excited to get back to the gym, but even before Covid and the 6 feet social distancing standard, no one wants to be crowded at the gym. Take a step back, give people around you some space so they can workout in peace. Especially if you are waiting on a piece of equipment that you want to hit up next, it doesn't mean you need to stand 6 inches from the leg press. Go do some lunges or something while the person finishes up. It’s ok, there are other exercises to do while you wait. It’s not the end of the world, you don’t need to become a helicopter mum while people around you are trying to workout.
DON’T HOG THE EQUIPMENT! Yes you pay a gym membership, but so do the other 350 people in the gym. So no, you can’t just go take the 20’s, 40’s, & 60’s over next to the Olympic Bar and then drag over the Plyo Box and set up your own mini gym in the center of the gym. Other people may want to use that stuff too. And this may come as a shock to you but most gyms only have 1 or 2 full sets of dumbbells. So if you are using 6 of the dumbbells that's just a dick move. Especially if you are doing it during prime time, you know -> 5 pm to 9 pm.
VIDEO’s & SELFIES! We have all seen them, the bathroom post workout selfies. The squat rack new PR videos. People work hard and they are proud of what they accomplished as they should be! And hell yah, they should share it, it is encouraging and inspiring to other people. But maybe the person in the background who isn’t setting a new PR and is going to the gym for the first time doesn’t want to be blasted all over Instagram. Be aware of who and what is in the background of your videos and post workout selfies. Especially the bathroom ones, last thing any of us want to see is some things swinging!
AVOID OVER CHATTING! Yes we go to the gym at the same time most days, and we see the same gym rats. We get to know each other, acknowledge each other with the head nod and the random “hey”, but we all come to the gym for the same thing. TO WORK OUT! So don’t just walk up to that dude you see lifting heavy every week and start having an in depth conversation with him about his meal prep situation in the middle of his set. People wear headphones for a reason. And most of the time, if they are not wearing headphones, it is NOT because they want to talk to you, it is because they forgot them at home or they died. Yes, you can hit up that super awesome power lifter maybe when you see him walking to the locker room at the end of his workout and say, “Hey, love what you do brav, could you give me some tips one day” most people are cool as hell and will be like, “oh thank brav, yah, here is my insta, DM me sometime” and if they aren't cool about it...did you really want to talk to them anyway??
Now let's talk a bit about hygiene. Gyms are dirty, we all know it and it doesn’t help that hundreds of people are sweating all over the turf area, showering in the locker rooms. Some people have their gym bag that hasn’t been aired out in months. Fungal skin infections like athlete’s foot, ringworm, skin wars, and yeast infections are all something you can easily get in the gyms if you are not careful! And now we have non symptomatic Covid19 people to worry about as well! So how can we keep our hygiene on point to help reduce the risk!
WASH YOUR HANDS! It has been said before and it will be said again, WASH YOUR HANDS with SOAP. not just water. And not just after you use the bathroom. But when you get to the gym and before you leave. The CDC recommends at least 20 seconds of lathering up before rinsing and using a clean towel or just air drying it. Those Electric bathroom air blowers are full of gross bacteria, Harvard did a study and they exposed a petri dish for 30 seconds under the hand dryers and it grew up to 254 colonies of bacteria...COLONIES! They most hygienic way to dry your hands is via paper towels, but that is not always an option. If you can’t wash your hands for some crazy reason….at least sanitize them! Most gyms have hand sanitizer located conveniently around the gym. Take advantage of it.
DISINFECT! We all hope that the person that used the equipment before use did in fact take the 10 seconds to wipe down the equipment after they used it, but we can’t be 100% sure. So before you use it, just take 10 seconds to wipe down the mat or bench or whatever you are going to use. Then after you finish….wipe it down for the next person!
SHOWER! Crazy that we have to say this, but after you workout, don’t just hang out in your sweaty, smelly, wet, dirty workout clothes! Get them off your body and GET IN THE SHOWER! Wash all the gym bacteria off you plus the warm water will help your muscles recover and your blood circulation. AND Don’t forget your hair! Especially ladies, with long hair. Your head also sweats and bacteria can grow on your head! If you are worried about the shampoo drying out your hair from daily use, try just washing your hair with a conditioner and if you really want to be sure you washed it all off, Head & Shoulders in a GREAT body wash. Head & Shoulders had zinc pyrithione in it that can help fight acne and KILL fungus and bacteria! Which is why it kills the dandruff….just saying. If you are showering at the gym before you go to work or something, make sure you bring shower shoes with you! Protect your feet! You do not want to walk out of there with athlete's foot. Gross! A pair of cheap sandals are all you need.