A reader writes: “I belong to a health club that seems to use antiquated cleaning equipment and I have never seen them disinfect any of the machines. How can I protect myself?”

The short answer is that it is your job to protect yourself from possible contagions in whatever environment you find yourself. In today’s world you need to be concern about contagion in areas such as day care centers, doctor’s waiting rooms, hospital emergency rooms and yes, health clubs. I have a friend who spent over a year dealing with a staph infection that he acquired. We traced it back to attending a health club and his possibly touching a contaminated surface with his hand or a towel, then touching his forehead. He may have had a small scratch or it may be that the pathogen was able to get under the surface on its own. He admitted to using the same towel over and over and did not consider who may have touched the exercise equipment before he did.

I have observed people working out who had running noses/eyes, coughing into their hands and using other really bad hygiene. One individual recently kept rubbing his nose with his open hand and then gripping the bars of a machine. He went in a circuit between four machines that had rubber handles which do not seem to have been sanitized since they do not “look” dirty. Meanwhile, the cleaning staff diligently vacuumed with a unit guaranteed to spread dust. They seemed more intent on making sure the front door glass looked good and spent little time concerned with touch points.

I did learn that at night they staff “touches up” areas but claims they do not have the budget to disinfect all touch points every day. They did point out that disinfecting wipes are provided for everyone’s use which again places responsibility on the user to protect themselves.

As flu season cycles through along with all the other bugs out there, I encourage you to wipe down everything before and after use or consider using gloves.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net