Discover Antimicrobial Athletic and Gym Equipment

By Jackie Kavege, Senior Manager, Global Built-in Marketing

Love going to the gym? Better bring the antibacterial wipes!

Examining Germs Gym

For most people, the gym is a chore that must be endured, not an activity that is loved. Regular exercise provides so many life enhancements and health benefits (increased energy, weight control, better sleep), it has become a "must do" in our daily list of activities. Whether you prefer to workout in your home gym, have a gym membership or just bike around your neighborhood, daily exercise is recognized as a key component of people's lives. Consumers are constantly in search of new gadgets, equipment and machines that offer the latest technology to enhance their workout and athletic activities. Gyms are tasked with everything from upgrading the locker rooms to creating engaging activities for members in order to grow market share and create differentiation. As segmentation in the marketplace continues to grow, manufacturers of athletic equipment must continue to innovate.

One area ripe for innovation (no pun intended) is bacterial control on these products and equipment. There has been significant research conducted on the proliferation of bacteria in gym environments, and anyone who has ever smelled the inside of a helmet or boxing gloves will recognize the pungent odor caused by bacteria. The moist conditions often created by frequent use of the equipment and inconsistent cleaning provide the perfect environment for the growth of damaging and potentially harmful bacteria.

In a swab study conducted by FitRated.com, free weights alone were found to have 362 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat, with over 70% of the bacteria found to be potentially harmful to humans.

While owners of health clubs and fitness facilities are making strides in this area, focusing more on cleaning and sanitizing equipment throughout the day with additional team members dedicated to to the task, it is nearly impossible to keep up with the sheer volume of users in the gym environment. To some extent, gyms rely on the goodwill and common courtesy of exercisers to help keep the equipment clean. However, we know that "cleaning" means different things to different types of people - and therein lies the problem. In addition, athletic equipment, like helmets, protective pads and yoga mats can rarely be cleaned effectively.

What happens when people exercise in a dirty gym?

If a gym is not focusing on the cleanliness issue on a regular basis, there can be consequences. Gyms that are not taking proper precautions to sanitize equipment to kill bacteria can expose users to a variety of bacteria strains that can cause everything from skin infections to athlete's foot. Although rare, it is more than worth the consideration of additional staff to wipe down machines between uses, budgeting for cleaning services, and enforcing a stringent cleaning protocol. It really only takes one instance of an issue being reported at your facility to create real commercial impact for owners.

In addition, the proliferation of bacteria on equipment and even gym floors affects the investment in the facility. Many odors common in the gym environment are the result of bacteria growth left unchecked throughout the facility. Bacteria build-up also contributes to staining and product degradation in many of the materials used for athletic activities in gym environments. Considering that the equipment is one of the largest investments made in the gym, keeping it clean should be a top priority to improve longevity and durability. Otherwise, equipment can become stained and surfaces will actually begin to break down as a result of bacteria growth. This degradation leads to premature and frequent replacement, which is costly for facility owners and inconvenient for users of athletic and gym equipment.

Creating cleaner athletic and gym equipment with Microban® Technology

On an unprotected surface, stain and odor causing bacteria can double in number every 20 minutes. Left unchecked, that bacteria continues to grow on surfaces and ultimately breaks those surfaces down, forcing premature replacement of the products and equipment. Frequent cleaning is an absolute necessity for athletic and gym equipment, but it is an incomplete solution. Even as surfaces are properly sanitized, they are only clean until the next introduction of bacteria - which can happen each time the equipment is used.

The more complete option is to implement antimicrobial product protection into the manufacturing process for these products. The presence of the antimicrobial technologies inhibits the growth of bacteria continuously, and used in conjunction with cleaning practices, helps maintain a lower bioburden than would be found on an untreated product.

Microban® offers a portfolio of more than 25 antimicrobial solutions and odor control technologies that can be customized for the materials used in athletic and gym equipment. Foams, fabrics and coatings all benefit from the added protection of Microban® technology, and end users of these products benefit from enhanced cleanliness and freshness of the materials.

If you are interested in learning more about antimicrobial gym equipment or athletic equipment, contact us today!