Hey Fitties! Happy Monday! I’m up and at ’em, to-do list made and brain functioning.

I’m back. At last!

Allegedly, it’s fall. I wouldn’t know for sure, because it’s been about 80 degrees here with 200% humidity (and rain! whoopee!). So it feels a lot like summer still (or the inside of a dim sum dumpling basket). And I’m not a fan. I don’t like sweating unless I’m shakin’ that ass.

So with this supposed cool weather, some of you will be taking your workouts inside the gym. Or maybe you already workout in the gym and you realize that a bunch of sniffling, coughing, sneezing people are going to be sweating their germs all over the place.

I tell you the truth: There have been a few times when I have been so woefully sick (as in “please just shoot me, it will hurt less”). One was when I regularly took public transportation. And the other was when I used gym equipment. (Edited to add: OH! How could I forget the great Fiddlehead Apocalypse of 2011??)

I’m happy to say as a group exercise instructor I’m seldom sick, even though I shake it almost daily with dozens of sweating women and share stereo equipment and headsets with other instructors. In my experience, you’re less likely to get sick in group ex because you’re less likely to touch stuff that other people are touching and then wipe your sweating face.

Unless you’re smacking other women on the butt.

So here are some tips for avoiding getting sick in the gym:

1. Wipe down your gym equipment before and after you use it.

Yes, people are supposed to give their gym equipment a courtesy wipe after they’re done. Yes, employees are supposed to regularly come by and wipe stuff down. 

I once belonged to a gym (it’s not one I teach at) and I liked to use a particular treadmill. For over a week, I used this treadmill with a discarded paper towel in the cup holder. Somehow, in the regular cleanings, the assiduous employees managed not to see it. I shudder to think how often they wiped the equipment down. I never saw them do it.

But I did see people wipe down their equipment with a paper towel but without using the spray. What’s in that spray anyway? I doubt it’s a chemical — I’m sure the gym lawyers do not allow members to go around carrying bottles of toxic (but germ-killing!) chemicals.

Sometimes I’ve even seen people wipe their sweaty faces on a paper towel, wad it up and THEN wipe the gym equipment down.

O. M. Grossness. (BTW, RUDE!)

So give anything you’re going to be touching (handles, buttons or bench) a pre-wipe. If you want to be really anal about it, bring your own alcohol-based spray so you know you’re killing germs.

2.  Bring your own yoga mat.

I really am sometimes dazzled by humanity’s faith. Not in God, oh no. But in the cleanliness of gym yoga mats. Oh yah, they’re supposedly sterilized (have you ever tried washing a yoga mat? They take about 3 days to dry out. And ever notice how the probably non-toxic spray never gets into all the nooks and crannies of the mat?)

Mats are like $6 at Target. Or go fancy and get one of the expensive (but worth it!) Jade ones (and send a pink one to your favorite cupcake-addicted fitness blogger!)

Another option is to use a skidless yoga towel on top of a mat and wash it between each use. If you use the towel, you could probably use the gym’s mat).

You can also bring your own organic disinfecting spray.

3.  Take good care of yourself.

Make sure your immune system is in tip-top shape by eating a healthy diet (sugar depresses your immune system, so lay off the cupcakes people, GEEZ! This is a FITNESS blog! 😉 ), resting adequately, avoiding over-training and hydrating yourself.

Hot liquids like tea, coffee and soup supposedly kill the viruses that like to incubate in your throat. Ick.

4.  Wash your hands regularly.

When you touch handles, locker doors, showers, scales, sinks and God knows what else in the gym, wash your hands with soap and hot water while singing Happy Birthday to yourself — twice. Often, gyms will have anti-bacterial stations in strategic locations, but I find I get sick even if I constantly delouse myself with anti-bac. No substitute for soap and water.

Working out can actually boost your immune system (not to mention we’ve got some food-tastic holidays coming up, so make sure you have a fitness plan in place for the winter!) so don’t skip the gym just because you’re afraid of the plague. Be smart and you’ll have a healthy experience at the gym!

Any one have other tips for avoiding gym germs?