First of all, I think the term germophobe conjures up images of something negative or strange. But who does like germs? If I wear the germophobe label because I go the extra mile—pun intended—for wellness, I suppose I’ll wear it proudly!

Here’s some of the anti-germophobe things I’ve encountered at the gym. Sanitizer dispensers filled with a liquid with a deep-blue hue and a familiar scent. I went to the front desk and asked, “Is this Windex?”

Indeed it was.

Another irritant: sweat lines running down the sides of a cardio machine. A little gag-worthy in my opinion. And another? People hacking with a slight turn of the head.

We must work out, so how do we avoid getting sick?

  • Bring your own sanitizer
    Seeing something in the sanitizer dispensers gives us the warm fuzzy feeling that we are being proactive by cleaning equipment before we use it. In reality, we may just be ensuring a streak-free shine on the chrome railing of the stair climber. Bring your own sanitizer like Lysol or Clorox wipes. To keep from carrying around the big cylinder most wipes come in, grab a Ziploc and seal several wipes inside and carry that around instead. Ignore strange looks. They’re just taking notes so they can do it next time.
  • Wash hands after coming into the gym.
    You just touched the door handle. Yes. It’s that serious. I also recommend washing again just before you leave and using a napkin to push open the door if you can’t use your foot or hip.
  • Switch machines
    Don’t worry about appearing rude; switch machines if the person next to you is hacking, sneezing, or otherwise distributing germs. You can do it with couth if you must. A quick shoulder roll and a “whew” makes it seem like you’ve done all you can on that machine and simply must go. It may seem strange, though, when you start up that same cardio a row over. That’s why I just stop abruptly and walk away.
  • Avoid close talkers
    Don’t worry about appearing rude if someone suspicious (watery eyes, nasally voice, excessively clearing throat etc.) is talking in your face. Ask them if they are sick and respond in the appropriate manner. Would you prefer an awkward moment or a week shaking from chills and fever? As a note, it’s preferable if you just don’t allow anyone to talk in your face.


On the other side, it’s important to put out the same energy and common courtesy we’d like from our fellow gym users. Here’s a quick example: bring enough wipes to give equipment a once-over after you’re done as well. Many a face has brightened on people standing by waiting for my machine, particularly in the indoor cycling room, when they see me wipe down. The smile and “hey, thanks!” are always genuine.

What are some of your stay-well practices at the gym? Let me know in the comments section! A germophobe is always looking for new tips.

Tanisha Rule

Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.