I know it’s like, the most obvious gym-gripe ever, but after last night’s disgusting display, I just had to bring it up here. Here’s the nutshell version if you want to stop reading already:
I am sick and tired of people not wiping down the cardio machines after they use them.
Still with me? Good.
Today’s rant comes courtesy of the insanely sweaty dude who used the treadmill before me last night at the gym. Guys, I can’t even begin to describe it except to say he looked as if someone had pegged him with water balloons relentlessly for the duration of his run. Drips and puddles of perspiration were eeeeeeverywhere. And while I waited for him to get off (there were no other machines available so I had all the time in the world to watch him), I actually found myself thinking, “Wow. Impressive. That guy looks like he’s working really hard. Go him!”
And then. AND THEN.
I watched him do it. He slowed to a walk, toweled himself off and surveyed the mess of wet he’d made all around him. I’m sure he was feeling as impressed with himself as I was. As he turned the machine off, he made eye contact with me and I smiled politely. He walked away, I assumed, to fetch the six rolls of paper towels and gallon of bleach he’d need to clean up his mess, and I stood there like a moron, two feet away from the machine, just waiting for him to come back. But guess what? He didn’t. And after a good thirty seconds of standing there like an idiot, I realized he just wasn’t coming back. He’d left me to deal with his mess.
Needless to say, I was appalled. I had half a mind to go find him and demand that he wipe off the machine. Of course, I didn’t, but then I spent the next 40 minutes thinking about what I would have, should have, could have said if I saw him. And then it hit me: Would I really have had the stones to confront this guy? I mean, as angry and revolted as I was, I’m not sure I would have had the nerve. But then another thought came to me: Why the heck not? Not only is this gym behavior absolutely disgusting, it’s a health hazard, too.
Consider: I had my phone with me to listen to tunes, but no armband. Normally, I put it in the cup holder or perch it on the magazine ledge, but seeing as how both of those surfaces were now covered in somebody else’s sweat—the cup holder, I kid you not, had actual moisture accumulation in the bottom—I had few sanitary options. So I wiped off the ledge with an unnecessarily thick pile of paper towels to ensure that his sweat wouldn’t seep through to my fingers, and put my phone down, praying silently to myself that his sweat germs wouldn’t invade my iPhone. And I swear, I swallowed some mouth vomit as I did it.
Look, I am well aware that all gym equipment is swimming in germs at all times. It just comes with the territory of working out in a shared, public space. But should I really have to dig a trench in a puddle of somebody else’s sweat to put my stuff down? No, I shouldn’t have to.
This is what I propose to you today: Let’s start a not-so-secret society of gym-going cranks who shamelessly make a scene when we see someone walking away from their machine without giving it a 10-second wipe down. Even better, let’s start a gym where there’s a siren, a la Planet Fitness’s grunting alarm, that goes off over the cardio machines when someone walks away without cleaning theirs off. I’m all for public shaming. These gym slobs have left us with no other option.
Now, who’s with me?
>> Tell us: Have you ever confronted someone at the gym for not cleaning off their machine? If so, what did you say? Also, be honest: Do you always, sometimes or never wipe down your equipment? Share in the comments.