Gym Germs: Keeping Your Fitness Facility Clean, Healthy & Safe

If you are a fitness center owner or facility manager, then you probably already know that gym germs are the downside to having a fitness facility frequently visited by members and guests. Multiple people on treadmills, lifting weights, and using equipment daily can leave your facility teeming with germs, bacteria, fungi, and viruses that can make people sick.

If asked where you are most likely to encounter infectious microorganisms such as staphylococcus (staph), responsible for a range of potentially fatal infections, or salmonella which infects the intestinal tract, you’d probably think of hospitals, public bathrooms, or office kitchens, right? You might be surprised to learn just how many germs are in gyms and fitness centers. 

In a study done on four fitness facilities in Memphis, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, staph bacteria were found on the surface of every piece of exercise equipment tested, including weight machines, free weights, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and treadmills. All in all, 25 different types of bacteria were found in the four gyms tested. In this study as well as others, staph stands out as the bacteria with the most potent prevalence-danger combination.

Another study of 16 gyms in Northeast Ohio focused on one strain of staph bacteria – S. aureus, and its variant – methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), which is estimated to result in 11,000 deaths per year in the U.S. Of 288 samples taken in these gyms, 38% contained S. aureus. Medicine balls (62.5%), CrossFit boxes (62.5 percent), weight plates (56.3%), and treadmill handles (50%) were the most common surfaces to carry the staph bacteria. Surprisingly, of areas tested, toilet handles had the lowest incidence of staph at 18.8%.

Gym equipment with the most germs  

There are some pieces of exercise equipment that contain a higher concentration of pathogens and microorganisms than others. Fitness equipment that should be frequently cleaned and disinfected include:

  • Weight benches
  • Exercise bikes
  • Leg press machines
  • Free weights 
  • Yoga/exercise mats

FitRated.com, a fitness equipment review site, acquired bacteria samples from 27 pieces of equipment from three large gym chains. Free weights had an average of more than 1.1 million colony-forming units per square inch in comparison to a home toilet seat that has on average about 172 CFU per square inch, according to the National Sanitation Foundation. Treadmills and stationary bikes had about 7,752 times more bacteria than a home toilet seat.  

Fitness facility restrooms

A host of gram-positive bacteria are at home in humid, moisture-ridden fitness facility restrooms, saunas, and steam rooms. Toilet seats, sinks, countertops, faucet handles, and other bathroom surfaces touched by a person infected with MRSA for example, can transmit this nasty infection to anyone who uses the bathroom. It is essential that gym restrooms receive regular cleaning and disinfecting, preferably by a professional cleaning and janitorial service provider.  

Fitness Facility Cleaning and Janitorial Services!

Call Cleanstart today for more information! 253-921-2593

How germs spread 

Objects and surfaces get contaminated in a number of ways such as talking, coughing, sneezing, and touching. In gyms, bacteria are mostly spread through skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids such as sweat, blood, and saliva. People with existing infections and open sores or wounds such as cuts transmit germs as well. Contaminated objects that members bring with them to the gym can also spread germs such as keys, cell phones, watches, water bottles, gym bags, and other personal items.

Most common gym germs 

Here are the most common pathogens (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that live in gyms and fitness centers:

Fungal infections

Fungi need three things to grow: darkness, warmth, and moisture, making both your workout shoes and a typical gym locker room perfect environments for fungal growth. Appropriately, tinea pedis, a.k.a. athlete’s foot, is the most common fungal infection picked up in gyms. This gym germ is known to live in swimming pools, locker rooms, on exercise mats, and any place where people walk barefoot.

Ringworm is another fungal infection that first appears as a large, scaly ring-shaped circle on the arms, legs, or buttocks. Caused by tinea corporis, it thrives in moist, wet environments, like those found in gyms. Ringworm spreads very easily and can live on surfaces for as long as 12-20 months if not killed with the proper disinfectant agent.

Staph (Staphylococcus Aureus) bacteria infections

Staphylococcus Aureus is one of the most dangerous strains of Staph bacteria. More than 3 million people get a staph infection each year and over 20,000 people a year die from bloodstream staph infections. The bacteria spread by way of skin-to-skin contact and can reside on gym surfaces such as exercise bikes, free weights, yoga and exercise mats, and other surfaces that touch the skin. 

MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)  

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus – or staph – because it’s resistant to some commonly used antibiotics. The symptoms of MRSA depend on where you’re infected. Roughly 90,000 people suffer from this infection each year. MRSA is known to spread easily in athletic facilities, most specifically in locker rooms and on shared equipment.

Common Cold (Rhinovirus) 

The common cold is caused by a strain of virus known as rhinovirus and is one of the most common viral infections. Rhinovirus spreads by way of airborne respiratory droplets, skin-to-skin contact, saliva, and touching a contaminated surface. A study conducted at the University of California Irvine published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that 63% of all the gym equipment they tested was contaminated with rhinovirus. The cold virus can live on hard surfaces for up to seven days and the influenza virus can live for up to 24 hours.

Killing gym germs

Light cleaning and tidying up are not enough to kill illness-causing microorganisms in a gym environment. Strictly enforced cleaning protocols that include regular cleaning and disinfection are necessary to kill illness-causing germs and keep all surfaces and equipment hygienic and safe:

  • Employees should disinfect equipment and frequently touched surfaces on a routine basis throughout the day 
  • Gym members and guests should be encouraged to wash their hands and wipe clean equipment after use. Even with frequent hand washing, people put themselves at risk if they touch contaminated surfaces and have the habit of touching their faces. 
  • Regular cleaning visits from a reputable commercial cleaning and janitorial service provider should be part of your overall plan to ensure your facility is providing the highest level of hygiene and safety for your members, guests, and staff. 

Gym owners and facility managers know that fitness equipment is expensive to replace. Harsh or corrosive chemicals like ammonia, bleach, or alcohol, which are commonly used to kill germs on surfaces, can destroy equipment surfaces by causing rust, discoloration, and cracking. An experienced, professional cleaning service will know what cleaning agents and EPA-registered disinfectants effectively kill germs that are also safe for use on equipment.

Why your fitness facility needs Cleanstart

At Cleanstart, our highly-trained cleaning staff is able to provide rapid response to fitness facilities looking to achieve an enhanced level of hygiene and safety. Now more than ever, facilities must recognize and address the unique challenges that come with the current COVID-19 situation. By taking extra precautions today, you can reduce the chance of infection and spread of COVID-19 as well as norovirus, rhinovirus, H1N1, SARS, Staph, MRSA, influenza, and other infectious diseases in your facility.

Keeping a regular schedule of cleaning and disinfecting will help to ensure that your gym or fitness center is always clean, hygienic, and safe. Our deep facility cleaning will consist of a combination of hand wiping and/or use of an electrostatic sprayer to apply an EPA-registered disinfectant/solution for use against most viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) and is safe for surfaces including furniture and equipment. Based on CDC guidelines, extra attention will be given to high-touch surfaces such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, handles, elevator buttons, security card readers, faucets, sinks, handrails, etc. frequently touched by multiple people.  

Our fitness facility cleaning and disinfecting services 

We provide the following high-quality services:

  • General cleaning (offices, lobbies, special activity rooms, child care rooms, pool areas, locker rooms, workout rooms, racquetball courts)
  • Special attention to glass services
  • Disinfecting of workout equipment  
  • Absorption of moist areas around workout rooms or pools
  • Maintenance for resilient and non-resilient flooring
  • Stripping, waxing, and buffing floors
  • Shampooing carpets  
  • Interior and exterior window cleaning
  • Cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms
  • Provisioning of all general lavatory supplies
  • Disinfecting showers and shower surfaces  
  • Special odor treatment for locker rooms
  • Waste removal services
  • Parking lot sweeping and power washing
  • Detailed elevator cleaning

Cleanstart has been in the commercial cleaning and janitorial business for over 28 years and on the front lines combating the spread of COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak in early 2020 (See Time Magazine video featuring Cleanstart on the front lines). We provide fast, efficient, and effective cleaning and disinfection services and are able to customize a cleaning plan tailored to your needs and schedule. Daily, weekly and monthly cleanings are available as well as one-time emergency cleaning and disinfection visits. 

Our Customer service guarantee 

We provide a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. If for whatever reason our 5-star quality cleaning standard is not met, we will make it right by correcting the issue within one business day. Our combination of proven processes, high standards, and uncompromising customer service take gym and fitness center cleaning and disinfection services to the next level.  

Cleanstart is proud to offer: 

✓ Over 28 years of experience in the cleaning and janitorial industry
✓ Thoroughly trained and vetted cleaning professionals
✓ Commitment to the highest quality clean
✓ Local, licensed, insured, & bonded service 
✓ 24/7 cleaning options & support
✓ Customized cleaning solutions
✓ One-time and recurring professional cleaning visits
✓ 100% satisfaction guarantee
✓ OSHA, HIPAA, EPA, CDC, AORN compliant
✓  A+ BBB-rating

For more information about our quality services, please give the experts at Cleanstart a call today at (253) 921-2593 or request your free online cleaning estimate now!  We service the following locales in the Greater Puget Sound region: 

Auburn, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bonney Lake, Bremerton, Factoria, Fife, Gig Harbor, Kent, Lakewood, Olympia, Puyallup, Renton, Seattle, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, King County, Kitsap County, Pierce County, and Thurston County.

5013 Pacific Hwy E unit 16 Fife, WA 98424 • Phone: 253.921.2593 • Email: Caleb @ thecleanstart.com