Sniff. Sneeze. Splutter. Cough. If that’s the soundtrack you’re training to at your local gym, it means that flu season has arrived.
We all hate getting sick. It means a doctor’s visit, medicine and time off from training. And the gym is prime location to pick up a bug that causes those horrible colds and flus.
The main culprit in this regard are sick or infected gym members who don’t wash their hands. Rather than spread bugs via the air, communal areas like the gym or office spread germs on surfaces that most people touch. Think door handles, railings and, yes, those 7.5 kilo dumbbells you’re about to curl with.
The warm and humid gym environment is also the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and fungi. With this in mind, it pays to go a germ offensive in the gym. Here are 5 tips to get through this winter flu season in good health:
1. Kill germs before the get you
The easiest way to avoid picking up unwanted germs is to wipe down equipment with a sanitising wipe before use. Wipe down barbells, dumbbells and handles, as well as benches. Don’t use your towel, though. Carry disinfectant wipes with you, or use those provided by the gym.
2. Wash, wash & wash some more
Avoid contact with your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes, at least until you’ve had a chance to wash your hands, as most colds and flus are passed through hand to face contact. Washing your hands before and after your training session, and again when you get home is also important. A little hand sanitiser in your pocket or gym towel is also ideal for use between exercises. It may like you’re hypochondriac, but it’s the best way to reduce your risk of infection.
3. Don’t touch
Keep tissues with you to use when touching communal surfaces like door handles or the button on the water fountain. And, for goodness sake, don’t put your mouth over the spout. Even when you fill up your water bottle keep a safe distance between the tap and the bottle. Fountains were designed to spray the water a certain way for a reason – to reduce incidental contact.
4. Wash your gear
Whether it’s flu season or not, you must wash your weightlifting gloves, towel and training gear after every session. Always a strong detergent and hot water to kill germs and quash odor-causing bacteria.
5. Use your own
Taking along your own mat, stretch bands, foam rollers or resistance bands can help to limit contact with potentially infected items in the gym.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.