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The Gym and Germs: What You Need to Know


With spring semester in full swing, going to the gym can be a great outlet for stress. Whether fueled by a need for a quick study break or a part of a daily routine, the amenities the University of Florida student gyms offer are hard to beat. Students can get their workout in at either the Student Recreation and Fitness Center or Southwest Recreation Center. While these two locations offer a variety of specific classes, such as total body and cycling, students also have the option of using various equipment on their own.

Jordyn Kalman, a 20 year-old journalism sophomore, said, “I try to go to the gym three- to five-times a week. I do a mix of classes and my own routines. I’ll usually try to do one cycling class a week, and I do power yoga on Tuesday nights. If I’m going to the gym, I go to Southwest because it’s closer to where I live, and because it has more equipment and open space compared to Student Rec.”

At first glance, the gym may seem like an excellent way to stay healthy. However, these facilities include an unwanted guest: germs. Specifically, the surfaces of gym equipment may be covered in various types of bacteria. According to research from 2014, staph bacteria could be found on every surface tested in the gym, and researchers found bacteria of 25 different types.

Morgan Taylor, a 19 year-old marketing freshman, said, “I usually go to the gym about four- to six-times a week. I really like to switch it up as much as I can, but I probably prefer to take group fitness classes. At the on-campus gym, I prefer to do my own workouts. At OrangeTheory, which is what I do most often, we wipe down equipment very frequently. After touching or using any piece of equipment, we wipe it down. Especially because we are constantly moving around the room and sharing equipment, we are always, as a class, cleaning our equipment after we touch it.”

According to “Healthline,” up to “35 percent of men admitted to never wiping down weight machines after using them, while over 25 percent of women admitted to never wiping down cardio equipment.” Furthermore, in the afternoons, 38.4 percent of gym-users do not wipe down their equipment.

Kalman said, “Honestly, I’ll try to wipe it [the equipment] down after I’m done, but sometimes I forget to. Lately, I’ve been much more conscious of it with the spread of coronavirus. I don’t really feel like I notice people wiping down stuff unless they were on a treadmill or another cardio machine, and when using a mat. I almost never see people wipe down the equipment in the weight room.”

To prevent the spread of germs, for starters, make sure not to touch your face after going to the gym, especially your eyes and mouth. Also, make sure you are cleaning your gym equipment both before and after using it. Carrying hand sanitizer is another good thing to carry when going to the gym.

Kalman said, “I have personally never gotten sick from going to the gym or thought it was a reason I got sick. After going to the gym, I usually wash my hands right after I’m done working out and avoid touching my face until I take a shower because I’m aware of how germy everything is.”

Remember that practicing healthy gym habits not only affects you, but also those around you. Although you may not feel like the gym hurts your health, other people may not have the same ability to fight off sickness like you can.



Juliana is a second-year journalism major at the University of Florida. She loves reading, traveling and seeking new adventures. You can often find her in line for coffee or listening to music on Spotify. For a better look into her life, follow her @juliana.ferrie on Instagram.
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