Gyms are lovely places. They let you get in shape, smash boundaries down and achieve things you never thought possible.
But they are also smelly, germ ridden cesspits where we see the worst of humanity, laid bare in one stuffy, fresh air lacking cave of concrete.
Gym owners, we apologise, but this is why your gaff is disgusting.
Unless you like the smell of damp dog mixed with day old sweat and that manufactured rubber smell you get from the equipment, then you have to agree that gyms tend to smell.
Sweat is the obvious catalyst for this smell, but not all sweat is the same. You have two types of sweat gland, the eccrine glands excrete just water and salt, in order to cool you down. The other, smelly gland, can be found in places like your armpit, and is called the apocrine gland. Instead of carefully excreting the sweat, the apocrine gland just explodes into the hair root on your body. What makes this markedly worse, is that the sweat contains fat, protein and sugar, as well as water and salt. All this creates a veritable feast for bacteria, which eats the sweat based macros, and thus the smell begins.
Then let us look at the conditions of a gym. They tend to be warm, they are often humid, and anyone with a D at GCSE Science knows that this is what bacteria like. So the bacteria you have excreted from the stinky sweat, is now growing and become even smellier.
Gym owners will say they clean the gym, and they do a fantastic job in many places. But as we all know, cleaning products tend to smell of hospitals, and we all love the smell of them don’t we? Also, if the gym in question is lacking fresh air, even when cleaned, the bacteria that then replaces the “killed” nastiness from cleaning products, is also inherently nasty, and more likely to smell, or be a catalyst for future whiffs.
If the gym is cleaned, and has lots of fresh air, then there will in fact be more bacteria than an air conditioned gym, but, this will be good bacteria and less likely to pong.
Oh and on the bacteria front…
Germs love gyms
All that sweat, and other bodily fluids of varying types, combined with the aforementioned conditions, means that bacteria will grow.
The weights for example, not only have sweat to contend with, but also the bacteria that you already carry on your hands. Not properly washing your hands after going to the toilet in particular, can really push up the bacteria levels as well; so we’re really in perfect storm territory.
In fact, FitRated recently did a study that showed that your free weights have around 362 times more germs on them, than your toilet seat does. The gym mat, cardio machines and the changing room are all fairly nasty too.
Now you may say, perhaps rightly, that “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. But in the gym there is a strong chance you can come bacteria that has stuff to do with the flu, impetigo and ringworm.
So wash your hands, wipe down the equipment, wear flip flops in the changing rooms, don’t let your bare bottom touch the benches in the changing rooms, and perhaps think about taking immune system boosting vitamins or supplements.
It’s not as beautiful as the internet makes out
I love the internet and the world wide web. Together, they have in effect given me this job. But they are also full of crap.
Most protein shake suppliers, and wholesalers (sorry, we are just as to blame) will have you believe that going to the gym is always sexy and that it’s always dark and brooding. On the opposite side, in today’s days of acceptance of all body types, we are encouraged to see the beauty of everything.
Frankly, in most cases, it’s largely rubbish.
Seeing someone sweat from their eyes, as they splutter their way to 10km on the treadmill, or watching someone grunt, gurn and turn red as they lift weights, is not beautiful. It doesn’t matter whether they are fat, thin, ripped, white, black or a descendant of some humanoid version of Mila Kunis; it isn’t “beautiful”.
It is life in action, which is inspiring, real and raw – but the web has sold us all a lie.
Now you may disagree with all that, but a locker room in the gym is also full of opportunities to see parts of the body that should be covered by clothing. Seeing a naked, sweaty, smelly old man with his bits out is more than enough to put you off your protein bar, even if you are a naked, sweaty, smelly old man yourself.
You see the worst of human behaviour
Gym fails themselves represent human idiocy, and the filming of them, and subsequent laughing at them, represents the nastiness of humans, and our schadenfreudian tendencies.
But, there is far worse than that, we have all heard of terrible stories at the gym, and here is one of the worst…
Through all the sweat, smells, germs, horrible imagery and…defecation, there are great stories of triumph! It’s well worth putting up with all the rankness, as the reward of an awesome workout, or seeing someone else just do something, is way better than staying at home.
Just please, wash your hands.