Gyms are hot spots for GERMS! So, here’s what you need to know about fighting germs while you also fight the flab. These tips come from our friend, microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno, who wrote the book The Secret Life of Germs. He tells us exactly where to look:

  • The locker room. Dr. Tierno describes sweaty locker rooms as, quote “the perfect Petri dish” for dangerous bugs like staph, strep and MRSA. So, to protect your feet, always wear flip-flops in the locker room. And never sit on the bench naked. In fact, Dr. Tierno recommends bringing your own towel with an “X” marked on one side. Then, use the unmarked side to sit on and wipe sweat off yourself and use the other side to cover benches, or gym machines.

  • Free weights. Because so many people handle them, Dr. Tierno says free weights, kettle bells and weight machines are magnets for viruses that can make us sick. In fact, viruses have an easier time sticking to hard surfaces, and can linger there for 12 hours! The fix? Wipe down all equipment before and after you use it with a disinfectant wipe.

  • The pool. A recent CDC study found that 62% of gym pools contain dangerous bugs that can cause ear and eye infections, spread diarrhea outbreaks, or worse! That’s why Dr. Tierno recommends only using pools that are cleaned daily. If you’re not sure, gyms are required to post signs saying when the pool was last tested and cleaned. Or, just take a good whiff of the water - because the stronger the chlorine scent, the dirtier the pool!

  • The gym shower. Wet shower stalls are perfect breeding grounds for fungi and other organisms that can cause infections - like athlete’s foot, or ringworm. The fix? Dr. Tierno recommends skipping the gym shower, and waiting until you get home. Also, never shave near a gym shower, because bugs can ride droplets of steam, and enter your body through tiny cuts from your razor.