Ahhh…adventures of going to the gym (WARNING. LONG AND RANTY)
When I lived in my apartment, there was small fitness center in my development. Although I appreciated its proximity…I disliked how few machines there were (necessitating time limits and causing fights), how long it took for out of order machines to get fixed…and there was one other thing I really, really disliked. When I moved to mr. strivingcynic’s, I had to join a gym. The machines were (mostly plentiful) and without time limits, broken machines quickly fixed. And that other thing….not an issue.
Until this week.
You see, I went in on Saturday to find that the gym had been repainted. The paper towel dispenser was no longer on the wall, but I thought that was because of the painting. I saw people going over to the desk asking about cleaners and being directed to the spray bottle and a towel. I thought that was odd…but okay.
To backtrack, my gym has several cleaning systems. First, there are paper towels and spray cleaner. By the weights section there are wipes. Occasionally, the guy who works the front desk goes and cleans the treadmills (don’t know about the other machines). But, on Monday I came in and in place of the paper towel dispenser was a sign saying “The gym is going green so you’ll be seeing less paper products.” And indeed. No towel dispenser…no handiwipes. Yay. How wonderful. Green. We all like green, right? So I went to the attendant and said “Hi. It’s great you’re going green [I resisted using air quotes]. But how are we supposed to clean the machines?” He informed me that the workers would be cleaning them. “Every time someone uses it?” I asked. He said “Yes.” “What about the weights?” I said. He looked puzzled and then said, “You should bring a towel.” At that point, I knew what had happened and decided not to argue.
What happened? Well, the same thing that happened at the apartment gym…the owners decided that they didn’t want to pay for paper towels and disinfectant cleaner and decided that people should bring things in to clean off the machines themselves. And you know what happened? Guess what? No one did. People would sweat, cough, sneeze, whatever on the machines and then blithely go to the next one. Except little ol’ germaphobic me who brought handiwipes and paper towels to clean the machines before and after use.
I guess you could say I’m not buying into the gym “going green.” They have music and tv’s playing all over the place, and I noticed they haven’t stopped selling individual bottles of water in plastic! My suspicions were further confirmed when I went in Tuesday morning and saw they’d added a sign saying “Please bring a towel to help keep the machines clean.” Here’s a lesson for the gym owners…towels will keep equipment *dry*. They will, not however, make them *clean*. That’s why there are disinfecting cleaners for gym equipment.
So why am I so livid?….a couple of things. First, I think the connection between using gym equipment that hasn’t been cleaned properly and transmission of staph and other skin infections is pretty well known (go ahead. Google “gym equipment” and “staph infections”). I know I’m a germaphobe, but we’re talking about lots of people getting up close and personal with the machines (sitting on them in shorts…). Second, as I indicated, I think that the owners are using environmentalism as an excuse when in truth, they just don’t want to pay for the paper towels and spray. I can also tell you that in the few times I’ve been there since the change, no one is running to clean off the machines after use. There must be at least 50 cardio machines…
I also resent the fact that by “going green” essentially the work has been shifted over to the people who use the gym. If I bring a towel each time I go, then I will want to wash that towel when I’m done. I go about 4 times a week….so that’s got to add up to several loads of laundry a year. Multiply by the hundreds of people going to the gym…and…not terribly green.
I will probably heave a sigh and start using packets of handiwipes and bringing in my own paper towels. I will endure the angry stares and whispers of how “ungreen” I am by the gym employees and others. I can only hope, my ungreen ways will at least prevent me from having a close encounter with a germ I’d rather not meet.
What are your thoughts about the “green gym?” If you go to a gym for exercise, does the gym give you something to clean with and if not, what do you do?