Could Staph Infection Be Lurking in Your Gym?

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

If you are a neat freak, a germophobe, or frequent gym-goer, that statement probably resonates well with you. My mother is one of the biggest germophobes that I know and this was, of course, instilled in me. I also happen to frequent the gym so you can imagine how important cleanliness is to me, especially when it comes to gym equipment. Imagine how many hands have touched those dumbells, how many sweaty backs have lied on those mats, how many butts have sat on those bikes. Now imagine a world in which none of this equipment got cleaned. What would that be like?

You don’t really have to imagine because what can result from unaddressed bacteria on gym equipment is actually pretty common. There are nearly three million cases of Staph infection each year in the United States alone. Staph, or staphylococcus bacteria, can live inside of the nose or on the skin without causing harm to its host.

It is when the bacteria cause an infection that it becomes a more serious matter, like causing toxic shock syndrome, although in most cases symptoms can be minor and easily cleared. Staph is a tough bacterium that can withstand many conditions, including extreme temperatures and high salt levels. Because of its ability to withstand these conditions, surfaces at gyms are perfect places for the bacteria to thrive.

If gym surfaces aren’t properly sanitized between each use, members and staff alike are all at risk of picking up staph infection. Gyms with proper maintenance practices will wipe down equipment several times throughout the day, wash towels daily (if they provide towels to members), and encourage all employees to wash their hands regularly.

The best measures gym-goers can take to prevent Staph infection are washing their hands; covering any