— say it ain't so

15 seriously gross things you do at the gym that you don't even realize


If you go to the gym regularly, we’re going to give you major props because sticking to a fitness routine is not easy. But unfortunately, that’s where the praise ends, because we have some bad news. You’re probably making some gross hygiene mistakes at the gym without even realizing it — and you’ll definitely want to hear us out on this one.

The gym is a great place to get healthy, don’t get us wrong, but you’ll want to avoid these all-too-common gross things people do at the gym, from the workout habits that wreck your skin to the post-workout steps you’re not taking to actually stay healthy. Listen up, gym rats. You’ll need this before your next workout session.

Here are the 15 grossest things you do at the gym without even realizing.

1You don’t completely take off your makeup pre-workout

Maybe you’re coming straight from work or running errands and you figure it’s fine to dive right in to your workout without wiping off your smoky eye. Or maybe you’re trying to impress your gym crush by lookin’ flawless while you flex. But please, keep your workouts totally bare-faced.

Even if you’re not Kardashian-level contoured, light makeup still clogs your skin, particularly badly when you’re sweating and your body is trying to remove those toxins via your skin. Wearing makeup at the gym only increases the chances for nasty breakouts, and who wants that?

2You wear your hair down

Another seemingly harmless habit with some potentially gross side effects is wearing your hair down at the gym. Even if you’re trying to protect your blowout and still get your sweat on, you’re better off loosely tying your hair back to keep it away from your face. Why, you may ask? Any products in your hair — gels, mousses, or sprays — can seep onto your hairline when you sweat and clog your pores, causing breakouts. So save those flirty hair whips for the club, ladies.

3You constantly touch your face while you’re working out

In case we haven’t driven home the point yet, the skin on your face is super susceptible to picking up all kinds of nasties at the gym. So if you’re sweating and quickly rub your forehead off with your hand or your arm, definitely stop that and use a clean towel. Gym machines are breeding grounds for bacteria, which you’re then introducing to your face when you touch it. Which brings us to our next point…

4You don’t wipe down weights and machines before and after every use

Even if the staff at your gym do a great job of keeping the machines and weights clean, you absolutely have to wipe everything down before and after use — every single time. We know it’s annoying, but trust us, doing so will protect you and the person after you from potentially getting seriously sick.

Miguel Sanchez, MD, associate professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine, told Men’s Fitness, “Studies show that viruses, like those associated with colds, could live on the surfaces even though the equipment was cleaned recently.” If a measly little cold isn’t enough to freak you out, Sanchez says you can pick up warts and E. coli from gym equipment. We’ll pass.

5You don’t wear gloves to lift weights

Even if you’re in the habit of wiping down equipment, you should still wear gloves if you’re lifting. Michael Lin, MD, a dermatologist and founder of Dr. Lin Skincare, gave StyleCaster the scoop. According to Dr. Lin, gloves “prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses like warts and staphylococcus bacteria, which can cause impetigo. Impetigo is a common skin infection that can be easily transmitted at the gym and result in blisters and sores.” Ack!

6You don’t bring your own mat

Most dedicated yogis bring their own mat to get their “om” on, but there’s a seriously good reason why you should bring one, even if you only hit up Pilates every once in a while. Think about it: When you’re doing floor work on the mat, your entire body is pressed against it. That means your face, skin, and clothes potentially come into contact with the previous person’s sweat, germs, and potentially even their shoes, which just trudged through goodness-knows-what to get to class. Aside from that, gym classes are often booked back to back, and have you ever seen staff members come in and clean them? Exactly.

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