The past few years have brought no shortage of incredible boutique gyms to the masses. Pilates, bar, boxing, interval classes, yoga, hot yoga, megaformer, zumba, spinning, crossfit… the list goes on and on. Layer these upon the already plentiful mega-gyms, in-office gyms and recreational centers littered across our towns, and nobody really has an excuse not to get a workout in anymore.
But something is awry.
We go to the gym, we workout, we eat well – but then we are unknowingly bombarded with chemicals through the equipment we use and the air we breath. Even those of us who do know can’t do much about it unless we chose to forgo our favorite workouts.
From the yoga mats, to the chlorine filled pools, to the barrage of cleaning supplies and toiletries covering the vanities…we can hardly finish a class before we are hit with chemicals that are worse for our heart than the big macs we so adamantly stay away from. These chemicals are linked to things such as asthma, cancer, heart irregularities, allergies and more. Some gyms even pipe in their own “air fresheners” via a system like this exposing us to indoor air quality that rivals that of the the worst cities in the world.
We can’t really blame the gyms because just like our doctors who have no formal nutritional training yet who everyone turns to for food advice… most gym owners have no idea that air quality has as much to do with health as a good workout.
Rewind to a recent conversation I had with a friend to talk about the new gym he is opening in town. After reviewing the materials and learning about the concept, I told him he had me at “steam cleaning.” He laughed. I was serious.
The good news is while it is counterintuitive to change what so many of us have
been doing our whole lives, it really is pretty easy to be green. There are already examples of gyms like this and this and this (locally!!) doing amazing things to promote a cleaner, healthier environment.
Here are some simple ways our gyms can do BETTER with minimal effort and cost:
First off, the products in the bathroom are a waste of money and none of us need to use them. Let’s bring those $24 a pop class prices down a notch and agree that cleanliness, safe soap, water and toilet paper are the only things we expect out of our gym bathrooms. Bring your own toiletries if you’re showering at the gym.
The times when I have cleaned up after my workout I felt like I was back in younger days hotboxing (not me personally, but you know – friends of friends) …yet this wasn’t quite as fun. From the spray deodorants, to the hair sprays, perfumes and such, the smells overwhelm. And, unlike being poolside when someone sprays their aerosol sunscreen and you can move out of harms way – you’re pretty much trapped when you’re inside a gym bathroom.
If the cleaning supplies you see have words like “warning”and “hazardous” on them, that’s your cue that it’s time to swap them out for less toxic options which are effective, economical and won’t cause human health problems. Need suggestions? Hit me up. If your management won’t budge, in the very least, ask that they reserve deep cleaning for after hours as most schools and offices do.
Those wipes we use to “clean” our equipment after use aren’t doing anything for us either. The kill claims on them are only valid when they are used for a certain amount of time and I can assure you a quick sweep does nothing to help. There is a reason that the fine print on wipe packaging frequently recommends that you wash hands immediately after use.
Hand sanitizer is so 2015. Some of the ingredients commonly used are not even legal anymore. You just worked out for an hour… you can walk the extra 10 steps to the bathroom and wash with soap and water. Plus, if you just used a wipe you are supposed to go to the sink and wash anyhow.
If you’re using a yoga mat opt for a sustainable one made of natural rubber, organic cotton or hemp. Skip the PVC. Try one like this or this. Nowadays they are easy to find even at stores like Target.
If you’re swimming in saltwater, consider yourself lucky. If you swim in a chlorine-filled pool be sure the levels are checked often and shower after your swim.
Finally, next time you buy workout clothes, check out how they are made. That’s a conversation for a different day and another post…
Share this info. with your favorite workout spot. It’s likely they have no idea and may even welcome a cleaner environment themselves, after all –they are the ones who spend the most time inside their space.