Gym Germs - How Dirty Is Your Workout?

We are investigating the dirty truth about your workout and gyms!

Doctors' producer Leslie Marcus tested 3 types of gyms, an affordable gym, a mid-range gym, and a high-end gym. She swabbed equipment and different areas of the gym both before and after using the cleaning products provided by the establishments. She took the swabs to ABC Laboratories to be tested. After testing the swabs, microbiologist Jack from ABC Laboratories said, "All 3 are pretty bad."

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The lab found these results:

Cardio equipment at the mid-range gym before being wiped was found to have bacteria found in feces, and after being cleaned the bacteria was still present. A yoga mat at the affordable gym tested positive for bacteria. Jack explains that when the mat is rolled up it can "incubate" bacteria and cause it to grow. Swabs from the high-end gym tested positive for multiple types of bacteria, including a Pseudomonas type of bacteria. Jack recommends when wiping down the equipment to use friction and let it dry in order to more effectively clean it.

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Leslie also swabbed and tested her workout gloves and found that not a lot of bacteria grew on them, as bacteria tends to flourish more on skin and metals. According to Leslie, the dirtiest area she tested was a water fountain which tested positive for E. coli from feces.

The Doctors recommend if you have a cut, abrasion or cracked skin to avoid contact with gym equipment as this could lead to an infection like possible methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

They also urge you to be mindful of what your skin is touching and wear shower shoes, use a towel when sitting on benches, do not go barefoot on communal mats. The Doctors also say to be careful about touching your eyes, nose or mouth after a workout, as this is an easy way to transmit the flu and common cold germs. Leslie also suggests using a towel with different colors on each side, so that you can keep track of which side has touched the equipment.

Despite the germs at the gym, ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says, "If you can make it to the gym regularly, the health benefits outweigh the risks of any kind of infection."