Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guest Post: Five Germies Places at the Gym

Guest Post By Peter J. Sheldon, Vice President of Operations for Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System®

Five “germiest” places found in gyms
The truth is, germs and bacteria thrive anywhere there’s sweat or skin-to-surface contact, which is virtually every area in a gym. A recent study conducted by Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System®, a commercial cleaning franchisor focused on protocols that reduce cross-contamination and support infection prevention, identified five specific surfaces in gyms that present the greatest health risk for germ transmission. These high-touch surfaces are frequently used by multiple people every day, making the potential for germ buildup greater than other areas.
  • Interior entrance door handles and push plates
  • Shower floors
  • Free weight benches and bars
  • Dumbbells
  • Mats and all cardio and weight training machine touch points

The comprehensive study measured surface hygiene levels using ATP, or Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, readings. ATP is used to measure surface levels of biological contamination. For more information, this complete study can be accessed on line at:

What you can do to stay healthy in the gym
The responsibility of maintaining the cleanest facilities possible falls on gym owners and managers, and part of their responsibility is educating gym patrons on how to stay healthy while working out. There’s a lot gym-goers can do to protect themselves from contracting germs at the gym. Here are some tips to follow to ensure you get the healthiest possible work-out experience:
  • Always wear flip-flops in the shower and when walking around the locker room to avoid contracting a fungal skin infection.
  • Use antifungal powder in your gym shoes to stop bacteria and fungus from developing.
  • Sweaty socks are a breeding ground for fungi—change socks often.
  • Don’t store damp towels or clothing in your gym bag.
  • Bring your own soap to the gym.
  • Don’t share towels.
  • Wash gym shoes in a hot water cycle occasionally.
  • Bring your own water bottle to the gym—drinking fountains are heavily contaminated with germs.
  • Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth whenever possible.
  • Always wipe equipment and machines before use, including mats and cardio machines. Bring your own wipes if the gym doesn’t supply them.
  • To avoid getting others sick, don’t exercise when you’re under the weather.
  • After working out, wash hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Hygienic cleaning protocols help eliminate illness-causing germs
Every gym has their own cleaning protocols for keeping their facilities clean, but traditional cleaning methods such as wiping down machines with a cloth rag may be leaving a considerable amount of germs behind. Cleaning cloths and traditional mopping can also spread the dead germs, which may turn into a food source for new bacteria. The bottom line: just because it looks clean that doesn’t mean it is clean. So, what can gym owners do to ensure the cleanest, healthiest facilities are provided to their customers?

Hygienic, scientifically-developed methods and technologies can dig through the dirt to reduce the buildup of germs and harmful pathogens that are commonly left behind by traditional cleaning methods. Hygienic cleaning deploys hospital-grade virucide/germicide disinfectants to assure the cleanest possible standards are met, together with microfiber technology, which is 99 percent more effective than other materials at retaining soil and matter. Color-coded microfiber tools and strategies also help to eliminate cross-contamination of germs by designating the specific area of a facility in which each color cloth is used. Other microfiber technologies, such as lightweight flat mops and no-dip mopping procedures, help trap and contain soil and germs with super-absorbent fabric, while reducing water consumption. To combat bacteria-infested locker room floors, showers and toilets, wet cleaning technology and state-of-the-art spray and vacuum techniques provide cleaning results so effective that these surfaces can meet food contact standards.

As the new year approaches and more and more people plan to head to the gym to begin living a healthier lifestyle, it takes a joint effort by both fitness center managers and patrons to reduce the health risks that can be inherent in these environments. By using hygienic cleaning strategies and also promoting healthy hand hygiene habits among customers, gym managers can significantly reduce risks associated with the spread of dangerous germs.

Peter J. Sheldon Sr., CBSE, brings over 20 years of experience in the Building Services Contracting industry to his position as Vice President of Operations and Development of Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System®. Sheldon works closely with the Coverall sales and operations teams to spearhead initiatives that further the Company’s strategic objectives and help the Company develop the most efficient and innovative cleaning processes available. Sheldon is among the elite group of building service professionals to qualify for the Certified Building Service Executive designation.

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