T Nation

Viruses, Etc. From Public Gym Equipment



A while back I read an article about some people contracting Hepatitis from gym equipment.

Has anyone else read anything along these lines? Has anyone changed their gym behavior because of this (wearing gloves, etc.)?

I know that it's rare to contract anything from an inanimate object, but
I'm just wondering if there is any cause for concern here.



Its not rare to contract stuff from inanimate objects, besides aerial droplets, you can get stuff from door handles and similarly gym equipment.

This does not encompass Hep but have a read of this...



I wouldn't take this issue too seriously. What do you do when opening doors, in the subway, in a professional environment if you have to shake hands, shopping, in public lavatories, etc.? Gloves? Try as you may, you can't avoid it. You can only avoid thinking of it too much...


I do notice that my hands get real dirty from the barbells and dumbbells after working out.

I just make sure to wash my hands before making my PWO drink.


I contracted staph infection this summer from my school's gym - apparently they don't bother to clean it but once a year. I spent a month on antibiotics.

Before then, I'd had several skin rashes occasionally. I find that taking a shower ASAP keeps them from showing up now.


I have a family member who got a pretty serious staff infection from a yoga mat.

Moral of the story: Don't take yoga class!


When I used to work out at my gym I didn't use gloves or anything while lifting heavy weight and got bruises on my hands. Also, while deadlifting, I would get bruises on my legs (tibialis anterior zone).

It could be dangerous if someone else left their sweat or blood recently and your open wounds had contact with that. Even without someone leaving fluids, it isn't safe to have your heavy weight caused wounds to have contact with the gym equipment.
its a Risk.


I got staph from a phone set at work. Now I disinfect every object I can think of on a regular basis, bleach is my friend.


I should probably clarify a bit with the inanimate object comment... I was referring to more serious stuff like HIV, hepatitis, etc.

It's funny because back in college (~5 years ago) I never wore gloves and I'd tear up my hands quite a bit. I always used chalk for my grip and didn't worry about much else. I'd just wash my hands after a workout and that would be that.

However, now I'm not really comfortable hitting the gym without full-fingered gloves and I wanted to see if I'm the only sick bastard thinking about this stuff. :slight_smile:


If someone were bleeding from an open wound and you cut yourself and rubbed the open cut in their blood while it was dripping from their body, then yes, it is possible. Otherwise, unless you are sharing needles with someone, the chances of you just casually getting HIV from a dumbbell are simply non-existant. Wash your hands before you leave (or eat) and get on with your life.


I think you can protect yourself from germs in the gym by following the basic rules of gym etiquette:

Put a towel on the bench.
If you sweat, wipe it up.

Two birds killed with one stone.

(Although, I agree with the guy who bitched about his school gym. My high school recently got a weight room bequeethed to it by a gym that went out of business. Great, except: A) the plates, bars, etc. are filthy; and B) high school students are filthy. I've been spraying everything in sight with disinfectant before I touch it.)


A good measure would be to not let your hands come into contact with your face when your at the gym. Also, when your using a towel, don't apply it near the nostrils, lips etc, wipe these areas with your shoulder instead. These measures will greatly cut down on the contraction and/or spread of bacteria if not eliminate it altogether


Lysol or some other brand wet wipes are your friend.

I go to the gym late so I know people have been sweating on the equipment all day especially the eliptical. I have the place all to myself so I wipe everything I use down with a Lysol wipe. When I am done with the eliptical I clean it well with a wipe as I feel it is only right after sweating all over it. But I don't just assume the gym staff has cleaned the equipment before I got to it.


I pretty much do the following

  • wear gloves
  • dont touch face with hands during gym
  • wash hands after workout

Dont have to worry about things


While learning how to do cleans I scuffed up my shins pretty well too. Long story short, I got swollen lymph nodes in the lower abdominal region which occur when an infection enters through the lower body. (I wasn't messing with anyone during this time so I didn't get any sexual infection!ahhaha) I wonder if it was from the barbell? Anyway, I spray the bar down these days before and after I lift.


I have a hard time believing that scruffed knees led to that infection unless you were immunocompromised. There was no infection around your shins? Were you sick previous to this?

Either way, it seems like some are deathly afraid to even lift. It is a community area. Treat it that way and get on with your lives. Wash your hands when you get done. Quit playing with your faces with your hands. I admit that people coughing into the air truly pisses me off, but our bodies are generally not that fragile. We are exposed to minor pathogens all day long. If some of you could see the crap that we actually sleep in daily, most would change their bed sheets every single day.


This is stuff I think about alot especially with all the gross people out there... There have been a few good tips here, here's another. Wash your hands before you pee. Think about it the bars are full of germs... Why would you put you hand on your weiner after touching all that shit. I'm actually surprised more people don't do this.

          best regard,
                      tin can


I got a nasty case of ring-worm on my hammies a few years back from the bench. Now I never wear shorts to the gym! Trust me, girls do not like ring worm.


We had a 300+ lb female member of our gym who used to wipe down every piece of equipment w/ CLorox Bleach Wipes before and after she used it. I thought this was a wee bit extreme.

I wash my hands before I lift. Before and after using the restroom at the gym. I also wash my hands before I leave the gym.


How do you guys do deadlifts without ripping your bubble? I ripped mine once and all of that unfiltered air got in. It was icky.