Do you wipe your filthy, diseased sweat off the machines at the gym?

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    Aug 02, 2007 6:17 PM GMT
    Eye Strain = too much computer usage.
  • trebor965

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    Aug 02, 2007 7:03 PM GMT
    you can beat me if i am wrong, but didn't a famous football player die tragically from a bacteria he picked up at the gym from people not cleaning the seats, and supports. i hazily remember something like this happening.
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    Aug 02, 2007 7:11 PM GMT
    Oh jeez. You guys do not want the whole lecture on this. (I usually give about a three hour lecture with three hours of lab on this topic, to pre-med and nursing students.)

    Just some random tidbits.

    - Sweat does not have antimicrobial properties. They love it. It's an excellent way to transmit potentially pathogenic microbes. However, most microbes transmitted this way would probably require an abrasion or irritated skin zone, or contact with mucous membranes, to infect another individual. (Actually, that's a whole different lecture.)

    - It is possible to keep surfaces sanitized - it's done in food plants and hospitals every day. One key factor is to get rid of anything that's porous. (No unsealed wood, fabric, unsealed concrete, etc.)

    - For wiping down, use either a one-use disposable item (paper towel) or a commercially-laundered cloth, used once.

    - Consumer laundering doesn't do a good job of removing microbes in the US, not since the EPA took phosphates out of our detergents.

    - For disinfecting lab surfaces, I usually use 10% lysol. There used to be lots of different antimicrobials on the market, but due to costs of licensing, they're getting to be all the same. Check the label.

    - Alcohol doesn't really do much as a surface disinfectant. Fungi grow pretty well in alcohol-based "disinfectants."

    - 10% bleach can be effective (also helps to remove residue from lysol!) but it's inactivated by organic matter. So it's not great on really dirty surfaces. Also, many microbes can actually be resistant to higher strengths of bleach, since it causes a reaction with their outer layer to form a protective shell.

    - These suddenly-popular foamy soaps found in commercial dispensers everywhere don't seem to do much. My students bring in things to test, and none of these foams has done a thing to microbes, yet.

    - Oh and BTW, wearing flip-flops in the shower will not keep athletes-foot fungus off your feet. At the scale of a microbe, forces of gravity are very weak, compared with surface tension. Cells will move right up and over flip-flops through water films. The way to prevent fungal infections is to keep your feet dry most of the time.
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    Aug 02, 2007 8:01 PM GMT
    Just to hit this at another angle, don't disinfectants have loads of chemicals in them you wouldn't want to drink? All of this "spritzing" is putting all of these chemicals into the air (which is terribly dense) which when reacting to the heat/temp of the room could be causing the infection(?). I wipe off equipment after I use it (cause your boy sweats a lot) but do this more for the fellow germ-phobic gym goers than anything as it's ignorant to this your towel is doing anything other than further smearing/spreading the germs on the equipment.

    Maybe I'm off but I think people should sweat and a gym shouldn't have the same level of sanitation as a doctor's office. (And on a related note, wouldn't it be better if gyms were quite cold and people fully clothed if we're concerned about the spread of bacteria?)
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    Aug 02, 2007 8:03 PM GMT
    Whenever there are Americans in my gym I purposely cough all over the free weights. That'll learn the soft buggers.
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    Aug 02, 2007 8:21 PM GMT
    This is part of the reason I had a dozen cats (in another thread) about recently having difficulty finding a well ventilated gym (NYC gyms very often suck in this dept).

    Germs are particularly prone to multiply in warm, humid environments, particularly where the air is stale. MOST of the gyms I've tried in Manhattan in the last month were close to 80 degrees during peak usage (and had no frigging oxygen). I almost immediately caught a cold after relocating -- the first I've had in more than a year.

    The best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid germs... So I'm not sure if heat is a factor in the gym you use, but it's worth thinking about.

    Personally, I always wipe down everything. But I also try to work out in a gym that's sufficiently well ventilated the the members aren't CONSTANTLY dripping sweat over everything. A person should have to work out very hard in order to get soaking wet. You shouldnt be sweating just standing there talking to a gym employee.

    Incidentally, if anyone cares, the Equinox gym in Brooklyn Heights is the cleanest gym I've ever seen. When I happened to toured the facility, one of the 20-something full time members of the cleaning staff was *unscrewing* the grilles on the spinning room fans to dust them. And that wasn't just a fluke.
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    Aug 02, 2007 8:48 PM GMT
    I spray/wait and wipe pre/post bench use/machine use. I sweat and love the smell of sweat.
    ...however
    I do have an issue with people that in addition to their sweat I am smelling their sweat-laden eau de cologne, axe, booze on equipment etc etc etc.

    any value to a cloth/towel barrier?

    I rack my wgts in numerical order, i.e 20/25/30/35-nothing like a big rack of weights.

    handwashing #1 in my books before during and after: I dont want to be responsible for anyone else's ocd.
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    Aug 02, 2007 9:39 PM GMT
    Umm... actually, catching a cold has nothing to do with humidity or perspiration. Colds are caused by viruses that cannot reproduce outside of a human host. You catch them by inhaling respiratory droplets (which might be more prevalent in a poorly ventilated room) from other people. Transmission from touching something that someone has coughed on, then touching your mucous membranes, is possible, but less likely.

    You cannot get an infection from inhaling disinfectant chemicals. In high enough concentrations, some of them can cause emphysema like symptoms, but this is unlikely to happen except from constant exposure in an industrial setting.

    I've noticed that some people tend to sweat like crazy from even mild exercise, while others stay fairly dry under the same conditions. I wonder why that is? I knew one guy who generally got a couple of extra points at raquetball because of the gross-out factor.
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    Aug 02, 2007 9:47 PM GMT
    I sweat profusely. I have no idea why. But I thank God for that Armour heatwear (or whatever). I almost look human at the end of a workout.

    My eye seems to be better. I intended to go to the gym today but being contagious was a great excuse to eat two almond croissants and hang out with a stranger instead. Maybe my eye won't be too well tomorrow, either.
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    Aug 02, 2007 10:03 PM GMT
    "catching a cold has nothing to do with humidity or perspiration"

    Normally I would agree, but overheating to the brink of passing out isn't exactly healthy.

    And viruses may not like being outside the body, but bacteria, molds, etc., can tolerate it just fine.
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    Aug 02, 2007 10:08 PM GMT
    this is beginning to remind me of Todd Haynes film, "Safe."
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    Aug 02, 2007 10:56 PM GMT
    A few weeks ago I heard something about germs and infections speading from using equipment at the gym...it was on a news show. I always wipe down the equipment before and after use...and I make sure I shower with soap (not just rinse)at the gym . I rack my weights too. I give the evil eye when others don't...but so many are pigs at my gym they leave towels laying all over the locker room...I guess they are too lazy to throw them in the bin. Most likely it is something we have to live with. Just make sure we are courteous and maybe others will follow.
    And if not..... just yell at em from across the room hey!!!! you Filthy F&@$% Pig!!!wipe your nasty ass sweat and germs...off the F&%#@ng machines!!!!!!
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    Aug 02, 2007 11:47 PM GMT
    I just use telekinesis to move the weights and machines for me. No muss no fuss.
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    Aug 03, 2007 12:34 AM GMT
    yeah, but can you get your dick hard without touching it?
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    Aug 03, 2007 12:47 AM GMT
    What about the condition of the locker room floors? Both Bally 's and 24 Hour Fitness in the Hollywood area are FILTHY on the locker room floors, bathroom stalls, latrines, sink counter tops. It is disgusting, and when you complain, they blame it on the volume of people who workout there, or try to upsell you a VIP locker in a different locker room. Never once is there an admission that additional janitorial staff might help keep up with the mess. I'm not a germ phobe, but even I cringe when I see a wet tile floor with muddy footprints, and shredded toilet paper and god knows what next to the toilets. I close my eyes and hope for the best when using these facilities. Complaining about something like this always backfires on me.
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    Aug 03, 2007 12:48 AM GMT
    get it hard? I can ejaculate via concentration alone.
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    Aug 03, 2007 1:17 AM GMT
    Cool, so you don't have to get it hard first. Nice rationalization.
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    Aug 03, 2007 1:24 AM GMT
    And McGay, might I ask where do you display this talent? I'm sure any number of the local joints would be happy to have you as part of the 2am show -- escorted of course by admiring drag queens.
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    Aug 03, 2007 4:26 AM GMT
    McGay brings a whole new meaning to "The Best 'Float' in the Pride Parade" ;)
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    Aug 03, 2007 4:45 AM GMT
    Hahaha. I love this thread.

    Yes, I wipe my sweat off the machines I use.

    And I wash my hands after I get done lifting weights.
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    Aug 03, 2007 5:02 AM GMT
    I perspire. I don't sweat unless I'm in a steam sauna. That's probably condensation. I have a buddy that teases me any time we're out in the heat. He runs sweat like a faucet while I might get a bit damp on the forehead.

    I still wipe off my equipment and rack my weights. The gym provides throw-away sanatizing wipes. The whole gym is very clean. The towels provided are washed there at the gym in commercial washing machines.


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    Aug 03, 2007 5:20 AM GMT
    OW: A suggestion that may help. Guys generally will bring their own towel, which they set on the bench (admittedly to clean up the sweat for those that don't bring said towels). However, after you've picked up whatever was on the bench, I see guys using their towels to then wipe their face. So, you're basically doing a not-so-direct transfer.

    After working out, the first thing I do is wash my hands, and the second is a shower. I don't touch my face or mouth until I know I'm clean.

    Either that, or you REALLY need to stop letting your boyfriend shoot in your eye. Seriously. This is the last time I'll tell you it's not good for your sight :)
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    Aug 03, 2007 5:29 AM GMT
    enigmatic, are you suggesting it's a gonorrheal infection?
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    Aug 03, 2007 8:42 AM GMT
    You guys are such girls. Honestly. How did America ever become great!
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    Aug 03, 2007 10:57 AM GMT
    Red, we became great because we ditched tea for coffee and stopped eating grey meat.