It’s cold and flu season and everyone is at high alert and paying particular attention to cleanliness. Advice on anti-bacterial ointments/sprays and preventative homeopathic concoctions seem to be at a fever pitch high. But, how much attention are we paying to the potential spread of germs when we borrow studio equipment, yoga mats and props?
Local studios and gyms are places where we exercise and sweat and detox. While this is great for the individual the shedding of sweat means the release of toxins and germs. If equipment is not cleaned regularly and properly this can lead to the unwanted spread of germs to the next person on the mat or piece of gym equipment.
In gym and studio environments the potential for infection if a cut or scrape comes in contact with a build-up of live bacteria, such as staphylococci and streptococci, which live on everyone’s skin, and spread infection, cold or flu is real. Foot fungi can survive on equipment for days. So how do you do your part to stay healthy and prevent the potential spread of germs?
Stay home if you are not feeling well: Many studios and gyms are places of healing as well as exercise and fitness development. For those with compromised immune systems unclean environments can truly set their health in a tailspin. Play it safe. Skip a day at the gym and rest. You’ll recover much more quickly from any ailment this way.
Protect yourself, with help: If you are really concerned or have a low immunity to illness and germs, take steps to protect yourself. Let your instructors and studio managers/owners know of your condition(s) and ask them for help in maintaining a clean environment. Bring, when possible, your own yoga mat and props and clean them as instructed by your healthcare professional.
Clean your equipment: Most studios will offer some sort of cleaning supplies for member/participant use. Use them. In fact, it can’t harm you to use the cleaning supply (provided it is natural in derivative) before you start your practice and then after you are done using the equipment or mat.
Cover up: If you have cuts, scrapes, skin rashes or infections please treat them as recommended by a doctor and cover them while working out.
Wear clean clothes: There is always the temptation to skip a load of laundry and double up on a lightly used work out shirt, shorts or socks (and even the occasional post-workout towel). Please don’t. Just don’t. Bacteria can build up and not only compromise your health, but that of those who come in contact with you.
Shower up: As soon as you have the chance, shower after your workout. As mentioned before, workouts mean sweat and detox and those things once released will live on the skin for varying amounts of time until they are washed off. Quick clean ups can prevent illness and rash and their spread.
Wash hands before leaving: In addition to cleaning your equipment, mats and props after use, wash your hands. Washing with a mild soap and warm water will wash away any stray germs and help keep you and those within reach healthy.
Stock up: Look at your gym bag contents. Make sure there is a washable bag to stow shoes and post-workout clothes. Keep some anti-bacterial sanitizer handy. Consider also keeping Thieves oil and a wash cloth at the ready for use on borrowed equipment, just in case cleaning supplies provided by the studio are not natural and you suspect equipment has not been freshly cleaned.
Be informed: If you are not sure of the cleaning routine and schedule for your studio/gym, ask. Most instructors will ask for equipment, mats and props to be cleaned after use. Many studios have daily cleaning routines and deeper weekly cleaning schedules as well.
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