How NOT to Get Sick at the Gym

You go to the gym to feel healthier, both mentally and physically. But sometimes, a trip to the gym can end in some unhealthy germs and sickness. As much as I hate to admit it, it is possible to catch a bug while trying to get a workout in.

Fitness centers are filled with sweat, saliva, and a bunch of humans in close proximity to each other, which basically make them a breeding ground for bacteria. However, by keeping a few tips in mind, you can refrain from getting ill when you’re supposed to be getting fit at the gym.

Here’s what three experts had to say about how to avoid getting sick at the gym.

how to avoid getting sick at the gym

Wipe down equipment

This is a must. Sweat can accumulate on benches and machines, so use the gym’s disinfectant wipes (or bring your own) to clean off any equipment or free weights before you use them, Jill Brown, a certified health and fitness coach and the owner of Jill Brown Fitness, suggested.

Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer and a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, agreed. “Wipe it down. Heck, do it twice if you need to. Better safe than sorry,” he said.

Oh, and wipe down the equipment again when you’re done, too. Why not help the next gym patron out?

Avoid sick people … and if you’re sick, avoid the gym

Brown suggested staying away from crowded group fitness classes, particularly if you notice somebody coughing or sneezing.

“If you must, make sure it’s in a ventilated room, but NOT a room with fans blowing,” she said. “That increases your likelihood of breathing in someone else’s germs.”

She also recommended not sharing the steam room with anybody who has a bad cough or looks ill.

And Kathryn Alexander, a personal trainer, pointed out the obvious: Be courteous to your fellow workout enthusiasts and don’t go to the gym if you’re feeling sick.

Stay smart when using the bathroom

Alexander and Backe suggested washing your hands as often as necessary. It’s advisable to do so after you train and before changing clothes.

Additionally, Backe endorsed showering when moving from one area of the gym to another. When you do jump in the shower, be sure to wear flip flops.

Keep your skin safe

Covering your skin can be one of the easiest (yet least trendy) ways to steer clear of gym bacteria. “You don’t have to go full on layers, but that super cute little sports bra isn’t a barrier between your skin and the bench that 500 other people sweat on!” Alexander said.

Refraining from touching your face and picking at your skin or nails can also play a role in keeping germs away. Alexander and Burke both said it’s important to keep any open sores or wounds wrapped up and covered, as well.


The gym can be a great place to get in a regular workout and keep your body feeling strong. To evade weakness and sickness, try the pointers listed above.

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About Erin Dietsche

Erin ran track from an early age, but it wasn’t until her parents “forced” her to join her high school cross country team that she fell in love with running. Since then, she’s become an avid runner and learned how to balance her running with her interest in eating chocolate. In recent years, Erin has embraced other forms of fitness like lifting weights. When she’s not working out, she enjoys anything theatre-related, writing plays, reading, listening to rap music, and playing the piano.