In my workout circles, in the ‘before times’ prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the wiping down of equipment after you had used it was always something of a debate.
Some of my less conscientious peers felt a little, shall we say, wilfully ignorant about why this would be necessary back in 2019.
It is safe to say that as we all start to return to our Gyms and Fitness Clubs in 2021, the nature of this debate will be drastically different. The Covid-19 Pandemic has taught us all the importance of wiping down and maintaining a hygienic Gym environment.
As such, as part of our series of articles on returning to our Gyms and Fitness Clubs, we will be looking at how to settle into this new normality we find ourselves in.
It is now significantly more important that we look after both our Resistance Machines and our Cardio Equipment. No longer should you tolerate any friend, peer or fellow member who decides to not wipe down his equipment to jump straight into the next exercise. That thinking is a luxury we cannot afford as a business and a culture and an era that has now passed.
So keep reading if you want to explore our recommendations on how, where and why to clean up specific pieces of Gym equipment as well as an initial overview on the rules that apply to most or all machines.
General cleaning of Resistance Machines and Cardio Equipment
For each piece of Cardio Equipment and every different Resistance Machine at your Gym or Fitness Club, a slightly different approach will be needed.However, with that being said here are some of the more universal tips, mindsets and safe bets when it comes to making sure the equipment that has just been used will be safe and hygienic for the next person.
Come Prepared, or Be Prepared:
Nearly every Gym or Fitness Club I have been in post-Lockdown has had an effective system in place for making sure that their members can clean up equipment. Usually this has taken the form of a spray bottle and a piece of cloth in a mass repository somewhere in the Gym or Fitness Club.
However it is important to do your research beforehand, different Gyms and Fitness Clubs may have different solutions depending on the facilities and resources that they have to hand.
It is most likely that a Gym or Fitness Club will give you the tools you need to maintain this equipment and keep it hygienic but it is important not to assume you know what you will find. Every Club is different.
Don’t Assume A Machine is Clean:
We have largely talked about cleaning a Resistance Machine or Cardio Equipment after your workout, and this is the most important and intuitive time to do so. But with that being said, you should not assume post Covid-19 that you can just walk up to a piece of equipment and use it.
By carefully cleaning the exercise equipment before you start using it, you are ensuring that your exercise space is clean and ready for you and that it is much safer for anyone who comes along after.
Cleaning your hands:
Another classic that I’m sure you have gotten used to over Lockdown (or I hope so at least!). Make sure you are washing your hands with a strong sanitizer, as often as possible while you are in a Gym or Fitness Club environment. This naturally includes when you arrive, at any point you feel it is necessary during and then again when you go to leave.
Washing your hands when you enter and leave a Gym or Fitness Club is especially important as these will be the times when you do not have your cleaning products to hand, and when you will be coming into contact with high-risk surfaces such as door handles.
Please, don’t use your own workout towel:
We all appreciate the thought, but using your own workout towel to clean down equipment is frankly more hassle than it is worth. It might feel intuitive to use the large piece of cloth that you always carry around with you, but trust us, keep to using the cleaning products and towels provided by the gyms. This will help to stop germs being unnecessarily delivered to the Gym and any given surface is sure to smell much nicer for it.
Ensuring your Belongings are Clean while on the Gym or Fitness Club floor.
For the same reason it is important to not go wiping your workout towel over all and sundry, it is also vital that you ensure your Phone, Waterbottle and any other equipment that you take out onto the workout area is fully clean.
While the act of resting your phone on a Treadmill might not seem significant, this is a point of contact that will be ripe for the spreading of germs from the outside onto the equipment.
Weapon of Choice
Much like the FatBoy Slim song, Gyms and Fitness Clubs will be selecting their weapon of choice in our continued struggle to safely and hygienically reopen our doors.
Currently, the two most popular methods we have seen across the most Gyms and Fitness Clubs are either wet antibacterial towels or dry paper towels and a spray bottle of treated water.
Both of these can be used in nearly the same way, the only difference will be disposal and the fact you’ll need to spray the dry paper towels before applying them to the machines.
Both methods are effective and should be used ideally before and after every use.
In terms of which method of Covid-19 cleaning and prevention to pick for your Gym or Fitness Club, it is important to consider space, storage, relative expense and the workout equipment within your business.
Safety when cleaning electronic Gym equipment.
While this is less pertinent for Resistance Machines as these tend to lack electronic components. It is very important when it comes to traditional cardio machines such as the Treadmill or electronic Cross-Trainer.
It is just as vital to wipe down these machines, but be careful not to use a spray bottle directly on them, or to get the screen area or buttons over-wet. This could negatively affect performance on potentially harmful machines.
As a Gym or Fitness Club Owner or Manager, it is important you let your members know that your electronic cardio equipment is not indestructible and that they must be cleaned with care for their safety and the benefit of everyone.
Focus on cleaning the main touch points of equipment:
Continuing on from the last point, as a Gym or Fitness Club Owner or Manager, it is important that your members know where to clean. While it may seem intuitive enough, putting up signs that detail vitals areas will help reduce any sloppiness. If possible, these should be included near the workout equipment in question, but I appreciate that this will not always be possible.
Be sure to include a compromise list, including the (gentle) cleaning of any buttons, as well as handles, adjustment levers and mounting handles.
As well as the vital areas on any given piece of workout equipment (as listed above), you should also be normalising the process of giving the entire machine a brief wipedown. While there are certain areas that are high-risk due to the large amount of physical contact. A member who has just used a machine will have been breathing on and potentially brushing up against many different areas of any given machine.
As such, we can never be too careful when instilling good practice and conduct when it comes to wiping down a machine.
As I talked about during the introductory paragraphs, the reason this wasn’t a universe practice at Gyms prior to 2020 and 2021 was merely because it took extra time. Unfortunately that hasn’t changed, but the necessity of ensuring we are being as hygienic as possible has.
As such, you need to be making sure that you as a gym goer or you as a Gym or Fitness Club owner are taking the time to make sure everything is clean. Make sure that the liquid has had time to do its work.
Cleaning a piece of workout equipment isn’t a race, it is a task to be seen through to completion
Disengage Safely from the Exercise Equipment Once Cleaned:
This may seem simplistic but it is important that once the equipment has been wiped down, you do not attempt to touch it again.
If after cleaning up the treadmill or chest-press resistance machine you’ve been using, the eye of the tiger is back in you and you are ready for another three sets of ten, or another ten minute run then you’d best be prepared to clean it all over again when you are done!
As with many aspects of our lives, leaving Lockdown will require more planning in our daily routine than it did pre Covid-19.
Providing Bins for wipes and paper towels in your Gym or Fitness Club
All of this was for very little if every Gym and Fitness Club became littered in germ-ridden rags and paper towels.
Placing Bins in strategic locations around your workout areas will help ensure that your members have their frustrations minimised and make them more likely to continue to ensure their workout area is clean, tidy and safe.
Now that we’ve covered all of the fundamentals of keeping Fitness Equipment clean and hygienic. It is time to close on a specific case study. We will be focusing on the specifics of cleaning all important cardio mainstays, the Cross-Trainer and the Treadmill, followed by the Chest-Press and the Rear Delt Fly Machine.
A Cross to Bear: Cleaning a Cross-Trainer as the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown Lifts
As we covered in our general cleaning tips and doctrines. It is important to understand that it isn’t only the handles you’ll be gripping and the foot-wells you’ll be stepping into that need to be cleaned after using a Cross-Trainer.
You may have a preference and only use either the fixed handles or the vertical moving handles on a Cross-Trainer, but it is still vital that you clean both sets, as well as the front panel, including the display screen. This is because even if you don’t come into direct contact, you’ll have been breathing to a greater or lesser extent (depending on your pump).
Finally, be sure to also wipe any and all buttons, even the ones you did not press.
Tread Carefully: Cleaning a Treadmill as the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown Lifts
Much like the Cross-Trainer. The Treadmill has several intuitive points of contact. The central tread belt being the most obvious, followed by the side rail handles and the front static handles.
All of these should be your priorities when cleaning, as well as any buttons, display screens and the entirety of the panel fixture in front of you. This will have taken the lion share of your breath and as such it is vital that you wipe it down before moving on
A Pressing Issue: Cleaning a Chest Press as the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown Lifts
The Chest Press has several parts that you’ll need to contend with when cleaning it down before and after your workout.
First, both sets of handles on the chest-press will be your first port of call. After that, the seat and backrest will be next on the agenda.
The pin that sets the weights will be next, in addition to any of the weight areas. It is also important to store the area that stores your phone and water bottle. If your Chest Press Machine has this feature.
Flying High: Cleaning a Rear Delt Fly Machine as the Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown Lifts
For the Rear Delt Fly Machine, it is more important than on the Chest-Press to clean the backrest/front rest (depending on the workout). This is because it will be subject to much more physical contact and will be directly in the path of the nose breathing trajectory.
As such, you need to pay special attention to the entire seat area while cleaning a Rear Delt Fly machine, before moving onto the handles, phone/water bottle area and the weight-pin.
While it is a dramatic change for some of us compared to working out in 2019, if we all want to continue to use our Gyms and Fitness Clubs in a responsible manner. We have to do our part and ensure that the equipment is safe for both us, and the people who will use it afterwards.
A Gym or Fitness Club is a collective and we all have an obligation to protect ourselves and each other.
We hope you’ve gained some insight from this article and enjoyed the read.
Stay Safe out there.