I go to the gym. I’m not exactly a ‘gym rat’ but I go pretty often and I hope I spend more time actually doing something physically constructive than I do watching others or looking in the mirror.
I spend a lot of time running, so that really doesn’t lend itself to standing around (duh!), looking in the mirror, or watching others (unless I’m passing them, which is my goal. Getting passed – sucks the life right out of ya – a separate blog). But on the days I’m not running, I’m probably using a few dumbbells, doing non weight exercises, a mirror glance (to ensure proper technique, of course), and using an occassional workout machine. And if you’re using a machine, please remember to, ‘wipe down the machine after use.’
I’m all about cleanliness and proper hygiene but can we please show a little restraint? Is it reasonable to expend half a bottle of the chemical solution on a machine you sat on for 60 seconds and gripped two handles? I’m pretty sure you could do surgery on a few of these machines the way some of these folks get to cleaning.
So I’m watching this 50 something lady getting ready to get on the elliptical (for the record, I don’t use ellipticals. Nothin personal, but to me it’s a ‘chick machine’. Don’t ask me why, I’m kinda of a chauvinist, but it looks way too smooth gliding to be a guy thing. There has to be some clanging of metal for me to use it. It’s like driving a Volkswagon Bug – it’s a chick car; same thing here, elliptical – it’s a chick machine.)
Back to the nice lady about to mount the elliptical. She starts by spraying the handles with about five squirts per side. Of course the spray is going everywhere and there’s a fine mist of chemical solution hovering above the machine, as she starts to wipe every square inch of the handles with a chemical soaked rag. OK – I get it, you gotta put your hands there and it’s nice to be sure it’s clean. Then she starts on the electronic controls – I’m sure they won’t work very long with the amount of liquid she’s expended. There’s got to be a, ‘do not submerge in water’ sign on there somewhere. She’s wiping off the display with the timer, distance, difficulty level (I’m not real clear what’s on the display panel since I don’t ‘ellipt’ – see above), Anyway, from what I can tell, there’s not much to touch on the display panel, but apparently she plans on making lunch there. OK – good enough, let’s get ‘ellipting’ – Nope. Not clean enough yet. Now she’s wiping down the back side of the control panel. The part no one sees or touches. The rag is soaked with solution, the bottle is half empty, and there’s a fine mist around the machine resembling a rain forest on a sweltering jungle afternoon (except it’s not hot and there’s no plants or trees, but I think you know what I’m getting at).
So, she finally gets to exercising – but when she’s done, yep, you got it. The sterilization begins anew.
Is there something wrong with her hands? Do her sweat glands excrete some toxic chemical that could be harmful or fatal to the touch? I mean, we don’t lick the machines, do we? Does anybody’s sweat require that much cleansing? I mean it’s salt and water, right? I don’t think I want to use a machine after someone who believes their sweat is that contaminated.
Me, I squirt a little solution on the rag, wipe the seat and handles and move on. That’s it. I don’t wipe down the machine before I use it either. I figure the last guy/gal followed the rules. Besides the rule is ‘wipe down the machine AFTER use’.
I’m gonna tell you a really gross story about a football coach from high school – OK, I didn’t actually witness this, my brother told me. I didn’t play football in high school and didn’t spend much time in the weight room. I weighed ‘a buck o’ five’ and didn’t really have the killer instinct. Now my brother, he was a beast, a middle linebacker – (that’s a blog all by itself.)
Anyway, he told me there was a football coach/teacher that did incline sit-ups in the weight room, in nothing but a jock strap and a tee-shirt! I’m not sure you want to let your mind ‘go there,’ and that’s kinda gross, but it gets worse. My brother also said that when Mr. M was done, he left a salt stained butt print on the incline sit-up bench. Alright, I’m gaggin a bit just thinking about it. I’m guessing not too many football players were interested in incline sit-ups after that! No wonder the football team had flabby abs.
Slight topic change – Commentary: Now what the ‘hek’ is some 30 – 40 somethin dude, doing parading around in a jock strap and t-shirt!? What possible thrill was he getting out of that!? Did he think the students were impressed!? Maybe he just didn’t want anybody using the incline bench. Maybe I don’t really want to ask any more questions about Mr. M, because frankly, I’m not getting a favorable impression. But I digress…
What does Mr. M have to do with excessive cleaning… Nothing. Just wanted to find a context to relate that story. However, I think we can agree there has been a ‘cleanliness-in-the-gym’ revolution over the last few years.
Staph infections are a bit scary, but I still think some folks are WAY over reacting. I’m also wondering how Elliptical Lady might react to a Mr. M’s salty, cheek stain. I’m thinkin rubber gloves and full chemical suit! Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to follow Mr. M on the incline bench after that salty display, but I’m not planning to have dinner on the bench either.
So next time you’re in the gym, follow the rules and don’t be afraid to follow me on a machine – I assure you, I’m a pretty clean guy and I ‘wipe down the machine after use’. Just be thankful I keep my shorts on when I’m on the incline bench.
Speaking of ‘keeping your shorts on’ can we talk about locker room etiquette? That, indeed, is another blog!