Bit late now isn’t it? We hear your cries, but there’s a good reason to know why you should never use your personal towel to wipe down gym equipment.
- It exposes you to harmful germs left by other users
- It facilitates the sharing of bacteria, viruses, mould and fungi
If that doesn’t sound like your ideal sweat session at the gym then pay attention because the latest report from the ABC reveals the dangers of supposedly being clean and courteous at your local gym.
According to Bridget Gardner, the director of a Melbourne firm providing advisory services for cleaning and facility managers, “this is where bacteria and viruses are being spread from the surfaces,” she told the publication.
Cameron Jones, who is a microbiologist and expert in mould and infection control also agrees.
“A lot of gyms are open 24 hours a day and are used 12 hours a day at least, and there’s a huge volume of people who go through,” he said.
This leads to the residual existence of everything from bacteria to yeast to fungi to viruses – all populating your favourite bench press, floor mat or bar bell. But the news gets worse with the report identifying that floor-mounted resistance machines like bicep curlers and chest presses being a breeding ground for germs.
“With the high-touch machines that have handles, the greater the force on the hand or the feet, the greater the transfer of germs to that item,” said Dr. Jones says, who highlights past research from the U.S.
The dangers though stem from the fact that these germs which infect your towel can then be taken home with you. Throw your towel in a gym bag with your other possessions? Well now they’ve been in contact. Use that dirty towel twice without washing it before putting it on your face and you could be facing sickness.
“You’re already sweating and have elevated temperature. If the material on your towel is dirty, obviously if you pull that across the surface of your skin, then if you have any sort of surface [blemish], like a pimple, that can get infected.”
So what’s the solution? Both Garner and Jones agree that everyone should be using those disposable towels provided to you in the gym as opposed to your own towel. To rid your hands of germs, Jones also suggests using hand sanitiser after every one of your sessions.
Whilst these measures may seem excessive, one has to realise that no one actually follows the ‘no towel, no workout’ policy at most gyms, so it’s better to be safe than sick.
If you are the towel type, Gardner recommends washing it daily if you attend a public gyms like Fitness First, Crunch, Anytime Fitness and other similar ones.
She also warns that if the towel stinks, it’s in danger.
“As soon as it starts to grow anything [such as bacteria], it omits a smell,” she added.
In other words, keep it separate from your gym bag which holds all your other worldly possessions…unless you want infected sunglasses, wallets and a phone.