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How Gross is Your Gym's Shower Area?
Fungus expert tells all. And if you're a personal trainer, do you realize how many germs you can get from your clients?
"The most common fungus noted is Trichopyhton Rubrum," says Dr. John Mozena, Fellow, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgery, Portland, Oregon--Town Center Foot Clinic. "Fungus is found in any warm sweaty environment such as a sweaty shoe or locker room floors. The fungus usually infects the skin first and then crawls around into the nail, usually with some sort of trauma. Once inside the nail it can infect the tissue and deform the nail permanently if not addressed. 2-3 percent of the population has nail fungus, with 70 percent of the population having it cultured from their feet. I suggest wearing shower shoes or slippers, drying their feet and toes thoroughly. They should also change their shoes daily (to let them dry out) and socks twice a day and use foot powder inside the sock. Also, wipe their shoes out with a 10 percent bleach solution every three months."
The possibility of infection aside, people need to practice good manners when using the locker room. It's unsightly to see someone's grubby tongs or sandals lying smack on top of the locker counter space or on a bench, no owner in sight. Make sure the toilet flushes completely. If you're a "spatterer," then wipe the toilet seat before exiting the stall. Don't leave gobs of hair in the sink. Don't leave used water bottles lying around. And cut your toenails at home!
Personal trainers: especially vulnerable to flu?
Fitness professionals are often in very close contact with their clients. This can put the trainer at increased risk for contracting the influenza virus. The best guard against the flu is a vaccine shot, but vaccination is not always 100 percent effective. Trainers can minimize catching the flu by avoiding close contact as much as possible with their clients, and to avoid it altogether if the client reports feeling ill, even if the illness was a few days prior. Don't do routines that require you to place your hands on the client.
Personal trainers also do a lot of handshaking when meeting prospective new clients. The trainer should wash hands immediately after dealing with people in which there was physical contact. Until then, the trainer should not touch eyes, nose, mouth or ears, even if just to scratch. These openings are portals through which the flu virus-living on the trainer's hands and fingers after being picked up from touching a client or greeting people-can enter the body.
Lastly, trainers need to be on the alert if anyone they associate with, including other trainers, is coughing or sneezing, which can release droplets containing the flu virus into the air-another source of contamination for nearby people. These droplets can be microscopic and settle right on the unsuspecting trainer's fingertips or palms. And all the trainer has to do is lean his or her jaw into a palm to catch the flu.