Some gyms put out spray bottles and paper towels everywhere making it hard to avoid wiping down the equipment. Some gyms don't put out ANYTHING. There are many reasons why you should wipe down your equipment...
1. It's flu season, do I really need to say more? I got on a bike at the gym on Monday and found a handful of cough drop wrappers in the cup holder. Gross much? The fact that they were in the cup holder made me wonder if the last person to use the bike had wiped it down after...
2. Swapping sweat is like swapping many other bodily fluids we'd rather not think about swapping with strangers. You might not think your sweat is gross but I'm sure someone else does.
3. Stomach viruses can linger on things you touch for hours. This means that if you have any virus lurking in you (and you might not even know it) can end up on that "start" button on the treadmill. The one you didn't think you needed to wipe down because, hey, you're clean, right?
4. Here's the real kicker. STAPH! You've all heard the urban legends of people getting MRSA from unclean gym equipment. While MRSA seriously sucks, it's not the only type of staph lurking at your local gym.
In case you didn't figure it out by now...I had an unfortunate run in with staph in the hotel gym over the weekend. I went on this awesome trip to Texas last weekend. I work on a small part of a much bigger program and last weekend I had the opportunity to see the whole product put together. It was pretty freaking amazing because I work on some really cool stuff. While I was there my dad and I went to the gym at the hotel every morning. On the last dad my dad noted that the gym was pretty nasty. There was nothing around to sanitize the equipment after using it.
I've had this habit of rubbing my elbows when I get nervous/bored/whatever and I'm sure there were many times over the weekend that I did this. I got home from work Monday night and noticed that I had a small itchy bump on my elbow. I didn't really think much of it...I get them sometimes but they go away. I woke up Tuesday morning to the feeling that someone was stabbing me in the elbow. Thinking it was just a zit or something I went to work. As the day progressed the elbow hurt more and more and my excitement for being at work was steadily decreasing...I had been trying to get in 12+ hour days all week because I had a lot to get done but I thew in the towel after 9 hours and went home, ate everything in sight, and then proceeded to hug the toilet for the next few hours. I looked at my elbow before going to bed and it had started to look like I was growing a nipple on my arm...it was a little disturbing.
What does that look like to you??
By Wednesday morning half of my arm was red and angry looking and it felt like someone was trying to saw my arm off, I couldn't eat or drink, and I had the worst headache everrrrr. Off to the doctor I went (I don't want even want to think about that bill, thanks super stellar health insurance!!! that's sarcasm folks). Has anyone figured out what was on my arm? If you guessed Staph you'd be right! Since I am allergic to at least 50% of everything on the planet I was allergic to the top 2 choices for antibiotics used to treat Staph. I picked up my meds and dutifully ate a meal when I took the first dose (since they said to take it with food) and some pain killers. The headache went away for a few hours until everything decided to come back up. Take Wednesday and repeat for Thursday (because I'm allergic to the meds!) and you have a summary of my week so far! I called the doctor about the violent reactions to the meds and all I got in return was an automated phone call to tell me I have an appointment for Monday. Super useful! I did find that if I eat a ton of greasy food I can at least keep the food down and only be super nauseous for a few hours...not so useful for the diet game at work, especially since I haven't been to the gym since Monday.
The upside is that I got so bored at home that I tackled some light cleaning around my house. I tried the bathroom this morning but passed out so I tackled the mountain of laundry in the guestroom today and the pile of mail in the kitchen...it's a start!
Moral of the story. I will always wipe down my gym equipment before AND after use!! You can't trust anyone at the gym!