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At The Gym: MRSA And Ringworm And Boils, Oh My!

Aug 5, 2010

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Reported by

Sarah Handel

As a reasonably frequent gym-goer, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on gym etiquette. Don't board the treadmill right next to someone if there's a less-cozy option. Try not to grunt too loudly. Keep your odors to yourself.

And as a moderate germophobe, I also am a pretty keen observer of others' interactions with the machines, weights, mats and other equipment. Yes, I'm the one who wipes the leg press down when I'm done, even if there's no visible sweat.  Yes, I'm also the one who glares at you when you don't. The copious disinfectant wipe-dispensers were one of the top selling points to earn my membership. Use them.

Thus far, I've resisted wiping machines down before I use them, lest I look like a real scared-of-the-world, Purell-evangelizing weirdo (unless I use it right after someone I saw skip cleaning it). But I'm reconsidering, thanks to Jane E. Brody at the New York Times. Guess what's lurking in the gym? MRSA, athlete's foot, jock itch, boils, impetigo, herpes simplex and ringworm, among other atrocities. Of course, I knew about athlete's foot, and my gym even took steps to inform members about MRSA. But, ew!

I'm ready to look like a nutjob. I've got a wedding coming up, and while I'd like defined biceps and triceps on the big day, ringworm and boils are definitely not the look I'm going for.

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