How to keep your gym clean?

How to keep your gym clean?

People join gyms to be healthier and maintain a good body shape but they might actually end up with some infections considering that gyms are a hot spot for germs. Ensuring a safe and clean environment for your members is important for their safety and for you.


Multiple disease causing germs are present in gyms like influenza, staphylococcus, streptococcus, and E. coli. Studies reported that 63% of gym equipment harbour rhinovirus, the virus responsible for colds. Skin diseases including athlete’s foot and human papillomavirus, are also thriving in fitness centres. Gym facilities have also been pointed out to spread MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), a life threatening bacterial infection, resistant to normal antibiotic therapy. MRSA infects people through cuts, abrasions or skin contact. Germs easily spread and people tend to touch their face several times per hours, allowing germs to enter their body through the nose and mouth, making them sick.

Dirty equipment and locker rooms, lack of cleaning products to wipe down equipment are among the principal cleaning issues experienced by customers. No one wants to exercise in a dirty gym or end up being sick each time they go to the gym. In order to ensure a disease free environment and avoid critical outbreak, which may greatly hurt one’s reputation, implementing an efficient cleaning policy is primordial. Not only will your members benefit from it, but your facility will gain a better reputation, sending a positive image of a safe and caring gym.

Evaluate your own gym centre.

Look at your gym from a new perspective, as if you were a potential customer discovering your facility for the first time. Would you be comfortable walking barefoot or using the equipment? Does your place communicate a clean feeling?

Staying in a certain environment for a long time can alter your vision, so, look for honest critics from your friends, reviews from internet, or directly ask your customers about the cleanliness. You will quickly realise which improvements are needed.

Implement a cleaning policy

Create a checklist, with different items to clean on specific days. Involve your personnel and make sure that they follow your recommendations. Some areas are more prone to germs than others and require more attention and cleaning. Be especially meticulous with these hot spot for germs areas:

–          Free weight

Free weights are one of the most used equipment in the gym and are ironically usually forgotten during the cleaning process though they should be cleaned after each use. Their hard surfaces are ideal for hosting germs that can lead to colds and other infections.

–          Locker room

Most of the germs in the locker room flourish on the floor. Shoes entering the locker room harbour faecal matter, picked up from the outside, which can give stomach flu and hepatitis A. The locker room is also the perfect place for germs like staphylococcus, streptococcus, and MRSA as well as fungi. A cut in your skin and a direct contact with germs is enough to let the germs enter your body and infect you. 

Ask your members to wear flip flops or other sandals in the locker room to avoid contact with the floor and wash it thoroughly before and after peak hours.

–          Exercise mats

Exercise mats are rarely cleaned. In the worst case, mats are reused for each class, becoming a den for germs.

Provide enough mats for two or three classes so that it can dry between training sessions and, clean it with an alcohol spray disinfectant containing at least 60 percent of alcohol to guarantee an efficient cleaning.

–          Cardio machines

Cardio machines like treadmills, bikes, and elliptical, are more likely to get wiped down after use than free weight. Yet, most of the machines have traces of rhinovirus, fungi, and yeast, especially on bike seats.

–          Showers

People shower to get rid of bacteria and be clean, but at the end, because of the high presence of fungi and other germs in this area, it can cause them more harm than good, infecting them with athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.

Plan the frequency and the method cleaning. Material cleaned regularly will be less dirty between cleanings, and have fewer microbes to remove each time. Germs and bacteria can survive days on surfaces so spray and wipe the equipment with alcohol sanitizing solutions throughout the day. When the centre is empty, operate a meticulous cleaning of the equipment with bactericide detergent. Spray the solution on surfaces and wipe with a clean towel. Wiping is an important procedure and ensures a complete removal of germs. Change towel when cleaning a different surface to avoid cross contamination by transferring germs from one surface to another. Thoroughly clean the floor, shower and other rooms with specific and adapted cleaning products.

Involve your members

You can’t always clean your equipment after each use, especially during peak hours. The best way to keep a squeaky clean gym is to make your members participate in the cleaning process. Provide cleaning supplies, sanitizing solutions and disposable paper towels within easy reach of equipment, throughout the gym, and near the exits to wipe off the equipment after each use and to sanitize hands.  You can also give each member individual travel pack sanitizer spray so they don’t need to check for supplies. Engage your trainers and staff to sanitize their hands when dealing with customers. They are the link between the members and the gym, and can encourage people to sanitize their hands and keep the equipment clean.

In many facilities, members take advantage of hand sanitizers and take part to the cleaning. Post signs to encourage members to wipe the equipment after use.

Making everyone regularly sanitizing their hands can make a difference and drastically improve the overall cleanliness, creating a safer environment that will benefit everyone.


Fitness Magazine. 2012. Germs at the Gym. [ONLINE] Available at:


DailyMail. 2016. How going to the gym can be BAD for your health: Free weights found to have 362 TIMES more bacteria than a toilet seat. [ONLINE] Available at:


Men’s Health. 2016. How going to the gym can be BAD for your health: Free weights found to have 362 TIMES more bacteria than a toilet seat. [ONLINE] Available at:

Gym Insight. 2012. Keep Your Business Clean. [ONLINE] Available at:

Sportsmith. 2015. 9 tips you can use now to keep your club clean. [ONLINE] Available at:

Protect yourself: Wash your hands

Protect yourself: Wash your hands

You have probably been advised that regularly washing your hands is essential. People wash their hands when they are visibly dirty, but tend to forget that they can harbour invisible particles even when they seem clean. Disturbingly, only 60% of women and 38% of men clean their hands with soap and water after using the restroom.

So why is hand washing a requirement? Can it prevent you from being sick?

Frequent hand-washing is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting sick and spread illnesses. Your hands pick up many germs during your everyday life operations, through a hand shake, when working or cooking. You can easily transfer them to other people who, in turn, can spread them to others, and so on. Germs on your hands will multiply on your skin if not washed away. People touch their face several times per hours without realising it, and with dirty hands, harmful bacteria can enter your body through the nose, mouth, and eyes to make you sick. By washing hands, you reduce the spread of germs and protect yourself.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, “washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrhoeal disease-associated deaths by up to 50% and reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%”.

Is soap necessary to wash your hands? Does soap kill germs?

Using soap is the best way to ensure safe hands. Compared to soap, water only removes a negligible portion of germs on your hands

The product acts as an emulsifying agent. It suspends oil, dirt particles and germs from your skin. By rubbing your hands, you complete the action of the agent and allow the particle to be easily removed. It is the same as when you clean your teeth. When using toothpaste, you have to brush your teeth to clear away bacteria and traces of food, otherwise it won’t be effective. The longer you rub your hands, the more germs will be washed away when rinsing under water.

Plain soap only removes germs. [Antibacterial soap], on the other hand, contains antibacterial agents to ensure germs free hands, necessary in certain setting like in healthcare utilities.

How to wash your hands?

“95% of people don’t wash their hands properly”.

Most of the people don’t wash their hands long enough; it should be done for at least 20 seconds. The World Health Organization recommends the following steps to ensure safe hands:

Wet your hands with clean, running water. The temperature doesn’t influence the effectiveness of hand washing. Turn off the tap, and apply soap.

–          Rub your hands with soap and don’t forget areas like the nails, the back of the hands and between the fingers.

–          Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, you can sing ‘happy birthday’ twice while rubbing to make sure that you do it long enough.

–          Rinse your hands under clean water.

–          Use a clean towel or a hand dryer to dry your hands. Dry hands are harder for germs to multiply on.


When to wash your hands?

When we think about when to wash hands, the first thing that pops up in the mind is after using the toilet. But it should also be done in those situations:

–          Before, during and after handling food, cooking and before eating. Many foodborne illnesses could be avoided with a good hand washing.

–          Before and after caring  for a sick one;

–          Before and after treating a cut or wound. Bacteria enter the body through cuts and wounds.

–          After using the toilet;

–          After changing diapers;

–          After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. A single sneeze can spread more than 100 000 germs around. Cover your mouth when sneezing and wash your hands after.

–          After touching an animal,or its waste or feeding the latter. Animals carry germs transferrable to humans.

–          After touching garbage.

What to do if soap and water aren’t available?

Hand Sanitizers are a good alternative when soap and water aren’t available. Choose a sanitizer containing at least 60% of alcohol. They kill most of the germs and are effective if your hands aren’t visibly dirty.


Isd423. 2015. BREAK THE CHAIN. [ONLINE] Available at:

CDC. 2010. Hygiene Fast Facts. [ONLINE] Available at:

About Education. 2015. How Soap Cleans. [ONLINE] Available at:

World Health Organization. 2009. Hand Hygiene: Why, How & When?. [ONLINE] Available at:

Should you put hand sanitizers in your office?

Should you put hand sanitizers in your office?

When someone is sick in the office, you don’t have to wait long until everyone starts getting symptoms of illness. Only one person or surface infected is enough to make everyone sick. A group of researchers applied samples of a virus, bacteriophage MS-2 which is similar to Norovirus, the most common cause of gastrointestinal illness, to several surfaces such as doorknobs and table tops at the beginning of the day. In two to four hours, 40 to 60% of workers and visitors picked up the virus and spread it to many other surfaces.  The hand is a quick tool to spread germs and the close proximity of people makes it easy for germs to jump from a surface to another.


In order to avoid this situation, good hand hygiene is recommended. Employers looking to limit the spread of illnesses in the office should invest in hand sanitizer dispensers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers reduce the number of cases of the common cold and fever in an office and decrease the number of sick days employees take due to these illnesses.

A recent study made by the University of Southampton in Southampton, England showed that increasing hand washing and hand hygiene in general can lower the rates of respiratory, gastrointestinal infections, and influenza illnesses. 20 000 people were involved in the study. Part of the group  were provided education about hand hygiene and the spread of germs and virus which led to 15 to 25 per cent reduction in infections compared to the other group.  It is the first time that a serious study has been made, showing real effects of hand hygiene. People don’t always carry one with them so providing hand sanitizers will improve hand hygiene and can ward off illnesses.

During a regular workday, using hand sanitizer three to five times is enough to already reduce the spread of germs. Place hand sanitizers containing at least 60% of alcohol where it can easily be spotted, such as in high traffic areas and in the restroom.


Washington Post. 2014. A single doorknob can contaminate up to 60 percent of people in a building in 4 hours. [ONLINE] Available at:

NCBI. 2008. Effect of Hand Hygiene on Infectious Disease Risk in the Community Setting: A Meta-Analysis. [ONLINE] Available at:

Norovirus: symptoms and prevention

Norovirus: symptoms and prevention

Norovirus is the most common type of gastroenteritis, causing stomach or intestinal inflammation and many outbreaks of Norovirus occur all year long from contaminated food. Each year, in the United States, norovirus affects around 20 million cases of acute gastroenteritis according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus is contagious and outbreaks are more likely to happen in crowded and closed places where the virus can quickly spread between people. Most of them occur in the food industry like restaurants because of infected food workers whom touch raw fruits and vegetables with bare hands before serving them. Norovirus is sometimes called gastric flu even if it is not related to influenza.

Anyone can be infected with norovirus and get sick. People are the most contagious when sick, and during the first few days after the recovery. There is no specific cure for norovirus. It’s usually mild and shouldn’t last more than a couple of days.


The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed engendering the following symptoms:


– diarrhoea

– throwing up

– nausea

– stomach pain

– fever

– headache and body aches

If you experience more serious symptoms or if they don’t disappear after a few days, you should consult your doctor.

How does norovirus spread?

Like most viruses, norovirus spread through direct contact with an infected person, stools, contaminated food or water. Touching contaminated surfaces and then your face can infect you. Norovirus can be present in your vomit and stool even before symptoms of infection appear and can stay in your stool for 2 weeks or more after recovery.

To reduce the risk of infection

Practice good hand hygiene

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating, preparing, or handling food. Use an [alcohol-based hand sanitizer] if soap and water aren’t available or in addition to hand washing.

Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood

Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish before eating them.

If you are sick, avoid preparing food and caring for people who are sick

The virus is highly contagious and spread easily through food. You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick for at least 3 days after symptoms stop.

Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is prepared.


Clean and disinfect surfaces

Touching a contaminated surfaces and then touching your face is enough to infect you. Often wipe down surfaces with an alcohol based solution to avoid cross contamination.

Wash laundry thoroughly

Thoroughly wash your clothes and linens if they are contaminated with vomit or stool.


CDC. 2013. U.S. Trends and Outbreaks. [ONLINE] Available at:

Mayo Clinic. 2014. Norovirus Infection. [ONLINE] Available at:

CDC. 2013. Norovirus Overview. [ONLINE] Available at:

How to protect yourself against the haze?

How to protect yourself against the haze?

The haze in Singapore has been back for several weeks. It is not an exceptional event, for almost every dry season, outbreaks have occurred. Thick grey smog coming from Indonesia floats over the island causing people to stay indoors, closure of schools and unhealthy levels of pollution. Singapore’s air quality even reached hazardous levels and there is no indication on how long people will have to cope with this situation.

Cause of the haze

The current haze comes from forest burning triggered by illegal fires in peatland, and forest in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island and the Indonesian part of Borneo. These fires are created to quickly clear lands for palm oil, paper and pulp plantations

What is in the haze?  How to check air quality?

The haze is predominantly composed of two types of particles:

–          – PM10 are particulate matters of 10 microns in size. They are large enough to be trapped by the nasal passages when you breathe.

–          – PM2.5 are fine particulate matters that are no larger than 2.5 microns, a thirtieth the diameter of a human hair. They can get trapped deep in the lungs and go into the bloodstream.

Short term exposure to high levels of haze particles can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat in healthy individuals, while a long-term exposure to these particles on a regular basis can create heart and lung complications such as lung cancer or heart disease.

The PSI, Pollutant Standards Index gives information about air quality. Look for the three-hour PSI or 1-hour PM2.5 concentration levels published by the National Environment Agency (NEA). PSI is determined by the concentration levels PM10, PM2.5, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide. During a normal day, without haze, the maximum concentration of PM2.5 is usually between 20 and 35 micrograms per cubic meters. The air is considered unhealthy when the concentration of PM2.5 hits 100, and hazardous when it exceeds 300.

How to protect yourself?

Stay indoors and close your windows and doors when the PSI is high

When the outdoor air quality reaches serious levels, stay indoors as much as possible and keep the windows and doors closed.

Cut down on physical activities

Exercising make you breathe deeply, allowing pollutants deep into your lungs. Reduce outdoor activities to limit your exposure to the haze especially when the PSI reaches 100 or more.

Stay hydrated

The haze causes drying conditions. Stay hydrated and drink more water than usual to flush out toxins absorbed by your body.

Use air purifiers at home.

Air purifiers and air ionizers can help to reduce the indoor particle level. Be sure to regularly change the filter to get rid of pollutants from the air efficiently.

Wear a mask.

Covering your nose with your hands is not enough to protect you. Wear a mask when the air pollutants levels are high. N95 masks seal to the face of the wearer and provide good protection against the haze as they keep fine particulate matter out. You can reuse your mask but don’t share it. Change it when it gets soiled or distorted in shape.


Teach people around you how to wear their mask. Not wearing your mask correctly can compromise its efficiency. 

step to wear mask

Surgical masks and paper masks are not effective in filtering fine particles. They can reduce the discomfort caused by the haze and prevent the larger irritant particles in the air from being breathed in but do not provide adequate protection.

Avoid smoking.

Smoking can make your lungs more sensitive to the effects of air pollutants.

Eat a balanced diet

Eat lots of vegetables and fresh fruits to get enough nutrients to help your body deal with the haze.

Eat food containing Vitamin A such as liver, carrots, sweet potatoes or spinach. Vitamin A protects your eyes and shields your lungs from air pollution. The chemicals in the haze destroy the Vitamin A contained in the lung tissues, weakening your defence against carcinogens.

Take Vitamins E and Vitamins C complements to strengthen your immune system. The two vitamins taken in combination will also keep your lung tissue healthy by building up levels of a protective protein to prevent enzymes released during inflammation from destroying the lung’s elastic properties.


National Environment Agency. 2016. HAZE SITUATION UPDATE. [ONLINE] Available at:

National Environment Agency. 2016. About Haze. [ONLINE] Available at:

Ministry of Health. 2015. MOH Haze Microsite. [ONLINE] Available at:

MRSA, Symptoms and Prevention

MRSA, Symptoms and Prevention

MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a type of bacteria resistant to several widely used antibiotics such as penicillin and methicillin. It is considered as a superbug and can be difficult to treat.

How did MRSA become resistant?

Originally, Staphylococcus infections were sensitive to penicillin. MRSA first appeared in the 1960s. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics and vaccines caused some strains of staphylococcus to become resistant to penicillin and methicillin. Several reasons can make bacteria resistant:

–          Patients press doctor for medication to help them overcome their cold and other minor illnesses. Thus, doctors prescribe antibiotics to patients when it isn’t completely necessary, for example for viral infections like the common cold when the drugs only work on bacterial infections.

–          People tend to stop treatments when symptoms are fading. Germs aren’t all eliminated and the remaining one becomes stronger and resistant.

–          Some people also flushed the remainder of antibiotics in the toilet. The drugs reach water supply where germs are able to evolve and refine their ability to outsmart these medications.

How can you get MRSA?

You can carry the bacteria on your skin or in your nose without having any symptoms of the illness. MRSA is spread by contact. Touching the skin of another person who has MRSA or touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face can infect you. MRSA can also make you sick by entering your body through an open cut or wound.


The symptoms of MRSA depend on where you are infected. In most cases, it causes mild infections on the skin. The infected area on the skin can become red, swollen, and painful and can even have pus. You can then get fever.  MRSA can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the lungs, the bloodstream or the urinary tract.

Who is at risk?

Everyone can get MRSA but staying in hospital can put your more at risk. People who have a surgical wound or intravenous, or the one who are hospitalized for a prolonged period of time are more likely to be infected. People with a weakened immune system due to a medical condition or who take antibiotics are also at risk.

How to prevent getting MRSA?

To prevent the spread of MRSA, keep your hands clean by washing them thoroughly with soap and water during at least 15 seconds and thoroughly dry them. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water and soap aren’t available. In hospital, hands or gloves may become contaminated with MRSA when healthcare workers touch a patient and then spread the superbug from one patient to another. Healthcare providers should wash their hands before and after touching a patient and change gloves between patients.

Cover your cuts and scrapes with a bandage and keep them clean and dry. Avoid touching other people’s wounds or bandages.

Avoid sharing personal items such as clothes, towels and razors. Other items that should not be shared include brushes and makeup.

Use a tissue to cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing and throw it after. You can also sneeze or cough in your inner elbow to avoid spray of saliva and secretions and contaminating your hands.

Disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, computer keyboards to avoid cross contamination.

What can you do to prevent the development of MRSA?

The misuse and overuse of antibiotics created superbugs like MRSA. Use antibiotics safely and in the right condition.

Antibiotics should only be used against bacterial infections. they aren’t effective for viral infections such as a cold or flu. Don’t take antibiotics without a prescription as they might not be the appropriate choice for your condition or may not have any effect.

Follow your doctor’s instructions when you are prescribed an antibiotic and don’t stop the treatment earlier than expected.


CDC. 2013. General Information About MRSA in the Community. [ONLINE] Available at:

MayoClinic. 2015. MRSA infection. [ONLINE] Available at:

WebMd. 2015. Understanding MRSA Infection — the Basics. [ONLINE] Available at:

NHS. 2015. Symptoms of an MRSA infection . [ONLINE] Available at:

How to protect your baby against germs? [infographic]

How to protect your baby against germs? [infographic]

Children catch between six to ten colds per year. When you have an infant, keeping him away from illnesses is hard. Children under 3 months are especially vulnerable, parents should be very careful to protect their babies during this period. Germs are everywhere and you can’t completely avoid them. As a parent, it’s easy to get stressed out and worried. Even though your baby will be sick at some point, you can follow some tips to reduce the risks.

Zika Virus, Symptoms, Prevention

Zika Virus, Symptoms, Prevention

Zika virus is now becoming a matter of concern as more and more people are getting infected all around the world.

The virus is spread to people by mosquitoes from the Aedes species. These mosquitoes also transfer diseases like dengue and chikungunya. Mosquitoes can give the virus by biting someone already infected and then biting other people.

The word Zika comes from the Zika forest in Uganda, where the virus was first discovered by scientists in 1947. Before 2015, Zika virus outbreaks only occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the virus reached Brazil and is now spreading to many other countries.

For the moment, the virus has not really spread in Asia. There have only been a few cases reported in Thailand and Taiwan. But, as people travel a lot, it is easy for a virus to spread around. For the moment, no cases have been found in Singapore but the virus will probably reach the island in no time. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is following the situation closely and is taking precaution measures to avoid any huge outbreaks.


The symptoms of the Zika virus are similar to chikungunya and dengue. The symptoms are:

–          fever

–          rash

–          joint pain

–          conjunctivitis.

Not every person infected will develop symptoms, about 1 in 5 people will actually become ill. The illness lasts from a few days to a week and is usually mild but if a woman is infected during pregnancy, it can cause a neurological disorder, microcephaly, to the unborn baby. The infant’s head will then be significantly smaller than the one of other infants and his brain won’t develop as much as the one of the others.


There is no vaccine available against the Zika virus.

To avoid getting infected, protect yourself against mosquitoes by using insect repellent. Cover your body, arms and legs with clothing and sleep under mosquito nets.

Aedes mosquitoes usually lay eggs in and near standing water in buckets, bowls, flower pots. You can reduce their breeding by ensuring that there is not stagnant water in and outside your house.


WHO. 2016. Zika virus. [ONLINE] Available at:

CDC. 2016. About Zika Virus Disease. [ONLINE] Available at:

MOH. 2016. Zika Virus. [ONLINE] Available at:

How to stop the spread of germs in school?

How to stop the spread of germs in school?

 Like many public places, germs are thriving in schools. The close interaction between kids makes it easy for germs to spread among them. Once one kid is sick, you don’t have to wait long until many other fall sick too, leading to absenteeism from the students and teachers. Kids, especially the smaller one may not be aware of germs and may not know the right hygiene practices. The school has then a role to play and can reduce the spread of germs to ensure a safe environment for everyone and reduce absenteeism.

Phone Facts

Phone Facts

Our phones are an essential accessory in our life. We use and carry them all day long, bring them everywhere even in the most intimate places. According to a street survey conducted by a local University, it was found that 9 out of 10 people use their smartphone in the restroom.

Phones are a hotspot for germs and can harbour 25 000 germs per square inch. Regularly cleaning them can reduce the risk of getting sick.

Below are recommended cleaning tips for your phone:

–          Frequently remove fingerprints and grease from the screen with a microfiber cloth.

–          Once a week, turn off your mobile phone and put some alcohol-free disinfectant on a soft cloth to wipe your phone and its case clean.  Dry it off immediately with a soft cloth.

–          Avoid taking your phone to the restroom and regularly wash your hands with soap and water. Cleaner hands mean a cleaner phone.


Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials. 2009. Are we aware how contaminated our mobile phones with nosocomial pathogens? [ONLINE] Available at:

Hindustan Times. 2013. Germs are often a phone call away. [ONLINE] Available at:

Asia One. 2016. 90% Singaporeans use their smartphones in the toilet, but only 10% clean them. [ONLINE] Available at: