Posts Tagged ‘Gyms’

Expectations on Sanitation

March 4, 2010

The shortage of space caused by the crowd occupying the Mount Carmel gym on any given afternoon is a clear indication that students at Quinnipiac are committed to fitness. In addition to staying in shape, however, Mount Carmel fitness center staff members want students to embrace a different habit.

 The facility’s staff makes sure to minimize the risk of gym users contracting and/or spreading of the virus MRSA, but part of the responsibility falls on students, says Assistant Athletic Director for Fitness and Wellness Tammy Reilly.

 A potentially dangerous form of a staph infection known to spread in hospitals, MRSA has become cause for concern at gyms and fitness centers due to its tendency to breed in congested facilities. Staph is a bacteria that exists on skin, but it is not always harmful. Twenty-five to thirty percent of the population carries the bacteria without the risk of infection, according to a Journal News article.

MRSA bacteria, which is resistant to certain antibiotics, is found on 1 percent of the population.

Staff members disinfect the benches and machines using a spray called SaniGuard, but it is necessary for students to clean and wipe down the equipment they use throughout the course of the day to prevent germs from spreading, says Reilly.

“Obviously we don’t go out and slap people on the hand, and tell them to wipe off the equipment, but we enforce that in the orientation video, and the signs we put around,” says Reilly.

An American Medical Medical Association study   revealed that MRSA, at 19,000 fatalities annually, kills more people per year than the Aids virus.

Reilly says that students, typically, are conscious about equipment cleanliness, but an hour spent in the facility on a busy afternoon suggests otherwise. Someone observing the scene is unlikely to spot anyone using the paper towels or hand sanitizers stationed throughout the facility, and gym users themselves have admitted that they rarely see those guidelines followed.

“You don’t see people wiping down the equipment because some people don’t sweat that much, and they don’t really feel like they have to wipe it down,” says Justin Ottino, an occupational therapy major who frequents the gym.

“I think they’re better on the cardio equipment, than the weight equipment,” says Reilly. “I think it’s because they see themselves sweat on it, and that’s not picking on Quinnipiac, from all the gyms I’ve been at, that’s what I see.”

So far, says Reilly, Quinnipiac has not experienced any widespread MRSA outbreaks.

“I’m thinking it’s isolated cases, and it’s gonna happen wherever you are,” she says.

The Journal News reported that fitness centers do not play a large role in the spread of MRSA, mainly due to the fact that the virus tends to be spread by “skin to skin” contact, although sanitation precautions at gyms, nevertheless, should be taken.

Reilly says she has not seen the topic surface in the various health club conventions she attends.

“I don’t think it’s an issue in our industry yet,” she says.