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A germaphobe's guide to the gym: 5 icky things to avoid

 
Have you ever really thought about what's hanging out on your favorite exercise machine? Yeah, we're not really talking about those annoying kids who hog the ellipticals. We're stuck on something smaller, grosser and potentially viral: germs. But no fear, gym lovers! Here are the ewwy, occasionally gooey, hot spots to avoid:
 
Yoga mats
From bare feet to sweaty backs, there are all sorts of things you don't want to come into contact with via your yoga mat. Always wipe 'em down before and after you work out--there should be anti-bacterial wipes plentifully available at your gym, and if they are MIA, pack a bunch in your bag.
 
Free weights
In addition to not knowing where other people's hands have been, we really hate the metallic smell free weights leave on our hands. Grab a cheap pair of lifting gloves to avoid the problem entirely (and help improve your grip), or scrub up with an antibacterial gel afterward.
 
Your water bottle
Consider this: What were you touching before you opened up your water bottle? Not so appetizing, eh? Instead of bringing along a bottle you have to manually open to quench your thirst, try a bottle with a top you can open and close with your mouth.
 
The shower
Hopefully, this doesn't need saying, but hey, if it does, now is the time: Never, ever step foot inside gym, locker room or dorm showers without a cheap pair of flip-flops. Athlete's foot is not fun.
 
Your face
You know how it goes: You reach down to adjust the incline on your treadmill, then wipe your face, then steady yourself on the handrail, then scratch your nose--on and on, 'til you are just one big sweatball...and ya know what? All that sweat might not be entirely yours. (Yeah, gross.) Do yourself a favor and wipe down the handrails and touch screens on the machines you use, and stock up on sweat bands and cheap towels to bring along to the gym.

BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 3/28/2013 10:43:00 AM

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