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Cleaning Gym Equipment: Gym Owner’s Guide

Think about what happens when someone uses a piece of gym equipment. On a treadmill, for example, the user will set up the speed, angle and routine wanted, then hit the power button. As the workout starts getting intense, sweat starts to fly. As the machine comes to a halt, the user may be dripping sweat everywhere.

In an ideal universe, an employee would clean gym equipment in between client uses. However, that doesn't always happen in the real world. Most gyms have a limited number of employees, and they’re often busy dealing with client needs elsewhere, often making it difficult to achieve this important goal.

The best solution to this predicament is a clearly defined gym cleaning policy for both employees and clients. In order for this policy to be most effective however, it’s a fantastic idea for the gym to provide the tools and instructions on how to clean gym equipment effectively. That way, both clients and employees can work together to maintain a clean space for all to enjoy.

Let's Look at Some Facts

Put the control panel of a fitness center treadmill under a microscope. Know what you would find? Bacteria. Lots of it. Over 1,333,000 bacteria in a single square inch. That's a lot of germs in a small space.

FitRated conducted a study to determine how many bacteria typically make their home on various pieces of gym equipment. They visited three separate facilities and tested 27 different pieces of equipment. Here is a brief rundown of what they found:

  • The exercise bikes, as well as treadmills, had over 1.3 million bacteria per square inch.
  • The free weights had over 1.1 million bacteria per square inch.
  • Over 70 percent of the bacteria found were potentially harmful to humans.

To put it into perspective, the amount of bacteria found on a treadmill is 362 times the amount you would find on a toilet seat. Yikes! Show your clients you care about their health by implementing smarter strategies to keep the gym clean.

It Starts With Gym Employees

An effective gym cleaning policy starts with the routines and responsibilities of the gym’s employees. The more you can streamline the cleaning process with gym employees, the better your results will be.

It’s a good idea to create a schedule of when each piece of equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. This will ensure that every surface gets attention. Another way to maximize cleanliness is by creating a cleaning checklist for employees to fill out as they go.

Educating your employees on how to clean gym equipment and with what solution is also an important part of this process. Doing so cuts down on confusion and empowers employees to efficiently complete this task. For example, let your employees know that sanitizing wipes work well to quickly clean gym equipment surfaces throughout the day.

After closing, a specially formulated gym cleaning spray can be used as a more thorough solution for sanitizing equipment. Employees can apply the spray and leave it on overnight, giving the spray time to do its job without interfering with or delaying customer use of the equipment.

It’s also smart to inform employees on how to clean each different piece of gym equipment effectively. To clean gym mats, for example, it is best to apply sanitizing solution and let sit for up to 30 minutes. The soft, porous surface of most mats can harbor a lot of bacteria. Keeping your employees up to date about best practices is a great way to keep your gym tidy.

It's Also a Client's Responsibility

Fitness center employees aren't always available to clean gym equipment as soon as someone steps off. After all, it's not really a cost-effective use of their time to constantly do so. That's one reason clients have a responsibility to clean up after themselves when they get done using the equipment.

Basic cleaning-of-gym-equipment etiquette says a person should wipe his or her sweat off the machine before walking away. That way, the person who follows isn't dealing with a treadmill or free weight drenched in someone else's bodily fluid.

Fitness center owners and managers can help ensure that clients complete this practice by including it as a part of their client policy. A facility can easily include wiping down equipment after use in the client contract as well as in the rules given to the client when he or she signs up. Doing so emphasizes the importance of cleaning etiquette. Plus, it gives the facility a practical way to address any noncompliance issues.

Besides policy, the gym can promote cleanliness by making cleaning as easy for clients as possible. This starts with a "Wipe Down Gym Equipment After Use" sign to act as a gentle reminder. Place these signs in highly visible locations throughout the facility so that all members can easily see it.

It's not good customer policy to make clients ask or require clients to bring their own cleansers and sanitizing solutions. From a legal perspective, you don't know what they are using or whether it is safe for your other clients. As such, it’s best to provide gym equipment cleaner and wipes for client use.

Distribute the cleaner and wipe stations throughout the fitness center within a short distance of most of the equipment. That way, the client isn't running across the entire facility just to grab a sanitizing wipe. Clients won't do that for long before getting frustrated and stopping. Additionally, make sure that employees restock supplies throughout the day to see the best results.

It's also important to advise clients on how to clean equipment quickly and effectively. For example, let the client know how to clean an exercise mat by rubbing it down with a sanitizing wipe and waiting for a couple of minutes. Employees can talk about and demonstrate the cleaning options while giving new clients orientation tours.

Especially during cold and flu season, it’s vital to encourage personal sanitation among clients. Hand sanitizer solutions, wet wipes and paper towels will help each client keep themselves and their personal equipment clean. Don't forget to provide waste disposal containers nearby.

Don't let bacteria become a problem in your fitness center. Develop a policy that helps keep the equipment clean and safe for client use. Your clients will love working out in a facility that makes cleanliness a priority.