The "normal flora," or good bacteria, are beneficial. They help with digestion, create vitamins and protect you by crowding out the bad bacteria. We need them. Their objective is to keep you disease-free. Eating a low-sugar, healthy diet is insurance that the good guys keep control of the battlefield.
The smartest thing a gym-goer can do is to become a hand washer. Wash your hands on arrival, soaping up for 20 seconds or so, about as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday," and again before you leave. Hand sanitizers are helpful, but they can destroy the oil on the surface of your skin. The oil from your sweat and sebaceous glands contain fatty acids which inhibit the growth of bacteria. So it's best not to rely on them completely. Soap and water and a round of Happy Birthday should come first.
Like the class I teach here at the Community Center in La Cañada, I teach a mind-and-body workout at Breakthru Fitness in Pasadena. I love the long row of beautiful sinks and soap dispensers in the locker room. Hand sanitizers, sanitizing-wipe dispensers and clean towels are always within reach. Owner Michelle Dozois says, "It's an around-the-clock job; the cleaning crew works nonstop."
This should be the case in every gym. If you're curious about your gym, ask the manager about the cleaning schedule — it will let them know you are concerned. It's a good idea to bring your own mat and two small towels instead of one large one. Use one for wiping the sweat from your face and body, and place the other between you and any seat you sit on, and for wiping down equipment.
Wear sandals while showering and dry your feet thoroughly before leaving the gym. Wash your gym shoes on the hot cycle occasionally and remember that your water bottle needs more than rinsing. Put it in the dishwasher to sterilize it.
If you are sick, stay at home. Your body will need less cardio and more stretching and gentle floor exercise; and it's certainly not worth the risk of exposing others.
Enjoy your workout. With a little bit of care, you'll come away with a healthier, better you.
I'll see you in two weeks.
Love & health,