Say you take workout classes because it’s more fun and motivating than solo treadmill time. But for every sweaty body you align yourself next to at hot yoga or do burpees across from at Crossfit, turns out you’re also exposing yourself to millions of microbes. If you’re wondering which of the trendy fitness classes tend to be the grimiest, new research has figured it out for you.
Ellipticalreviews.com, a site that, uh, reviews ellipticals, published a study comparing the bacteria count of some of the most popular workout options today. For the report, titled “Filthy Fitness,” researchers swabbed the equipment from three spin, barre, hot yoga and Crossfit classes to determine which on average had the highest colony forming units (CFU, or microbes per volume). And then, as a point of comparison, they weighed that number against the CFU of your average toilet seat.
Bad news for CrossFitters: Barbells were found to contain 153,410 CFU — that’s 48 times more bacteria than a toilet seat’s average of 3200. The second biggest culprit is hot yoga: The researchers swabbed yoga mats and found 25,533 CFU — eight times as many as a potty seat. Spin fanatics and Pure Barre purists can rest easy: The resistance knobs on stationary spin bikes and the wooden ballet bars at barre classes were actually 320 and 240 times cleaner, respectively, than loo lids.
We’re not saying to quarantine yourself at home and only do online workout videos (especially because your computer keyboard is 20,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat). If you've found the fitness option that's motivating for you, by all means, stick with it. And FYI, the treadmill at the gym is gnarly, too: A study from equipment review site Fitrated found that they contain 74 times the bacteria of a toilet seat.
The point is, germs are everywhere, and your only defense against them is to be diligent about washing your hands with antibacterial soap and hot water. Oh, and that reminds us: Don’t use the bathroom automatic air dryer unless you want to blow hot germs all over those clean hands.