Hot tubs are a popular way to unwind or soothe sore muscles at a gym. As a result of frequent use, hot tubs can become one of the germiest places in the workout facility.
As people use the hot tub, water can become contaminated. Most facilities have posted signs cautioning against use if an individual is ill, has a rash, or has open cuts or sores, but these warnings are often ignored. If contaminated water is accidentally swallowed, it can cause infections in eyes, ears, and nasal passages. Fecal, fungal, and staphylococcus microbes are often found in hot tub water samples, and can cause serious skin infections. Skin infections are the number one reported side effect of using hot tubs according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Because hot tubs may simply smell of chlorine or appear to be heavily chlorinated, many people believe that hot tubs are germ free. While chlorine does kill most germs, it does not kill all germs. Chlorine treatment also does not sterilize the water in the tub. High water temperatures can speed up the evaporation of chlorine and other sanitizing chemicals, making it important that chemical levels be consistently monitored and maintained in order to ensure a high level of safety.
Gyms and other facilities with hot tubs should have a maintenance and sanitation program in place, or utilize a reputable, professional company to maintain and sanitize the hot tub and its equipment. This maintenance and sanitation program should include draining the tub completely in order to thoroughly sanitize the tub (including interior pipes). The maintenance program should also include the removal of any debris from drains and filters. Finally, a well-managed chemical treatment system should be established and followed at all times in order to minimize the growth of germs and minimize risk.
Fitness centers and gyms can be contaminated with germs, especially during cold and flu season. Cold and flu viruses can live on surfaces like free weights, mats, and treadmill handles for minutes to several hours. Other microbes, such as staphylococcus and MRSA can linger much longer.
In many fitness centers, sanitation is frequently left up to the customer. Patrons are expected to wipe down machines post workout. Gyms typically provide sanitizing spray and paper towels for this purpose, and although many people do take a moment to spray down the machine or mat they’ve been sweating on, they may not do correctly or thoroughly.
Because customers don’t always do the best job, it is critical that facility management establish a regular cleaning schedule. Machines, free weights, and other common areas should be wiped down several times a day with paper towels and cleaning solution, or, ideally with pre-soaked antibacterial wipes designed to kill a wide range of germs. Locker rooms and showers also need a thorough sanitizing regimen, and towels need to be washed with hot water and bleach and dried thoroughly.
Some gyms and fitness centers employ a professional janitorial service company to ensure the facility is being cleaned thoroughly, as well as to ensure safety and prevent illness. However, cleaning and sanitation usually falls on facility employees, who may not be properly trained in sanitation and germ prevention. This means that machines, mats, and common areas are likely not being cleaned properly.
Whether you are utilizing employees to clean your facility, or employing a professional janitorial services company, it is important to make sure they are properly trained/licensed, and are maintaining a routine cleaning schedule. Also, be sure they’re covering all areas of the facility – including reception, saunas, and locker rooms.