Your Gym Might Have Way More Germs Than You Thought

Our friends at Shape Magazine explain the unfortunate truth about the dirtiness of the average gym (and what to do about it).


Ever wanted to know just how gross your gym's equipment is exactly? Yeah, neither have we. But thanks to equipment reviews site FitRated, we've got the full germ lowdown. They swabbed treadmills, excercise bikes, and free weights (27 in total) at three different national gym chains to find out how many germs you encounter while working out, and the results are pretty grim.

It turns out the average treadmill, exercise bike, or free weight is teeming with bacteria — more than 1 million per square inch apiece. To put this in perspective, FitRated found that free weights have 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat and the treadmill has 74 times more bacteria than a typical public bathroom faucet. (Wondering where else germs may be lurking in your life? Check out 7 Things You're Not Washing — but Should Be.)

Not to mention, they found that 70 percent of the bacteria found are potentially harmful to humans. The bacteria samples from the treadmill, exercise bike, and free weights all showed gram-positive cocci, a common cause of skin infections and other illnesses, as well as gram-negative rods, which can prompt many types of infections and sometimes resist antibiotics. The exercise bikes and free weight samples also turned up Bacillus, a potential cause of conditions including ear, eye, and respiratory infections. (Workout equipment isn't the only source of pollution at the gym. You may be breathing in seriously dirty air.)

FitRated explains that while of course many public places harbor various types of bacteria, gyms in particular can be germ hotspots."Every time you pick up a weight or grab an exercise bike handle, you could be putting yourself at risk for an illness or infection." Ugh, thanks for the reminder.

So what's a gym-loving girl to do? Surprise, surprise: be sure to disinfect machines both before and after you use them and avoid touching your face. FitRated also suggests you never walk around barefoot (duh!), and wash your hands and change out of your clothes immediately after finishing your workout. (That's one of three things you need to do immediately after a workout.) Still freaked out? While we don't condone living life in a bubble, you could always start doing at-home workouts...

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