The Disgusting (and Sometimes Corrupt) Secrets Your Gym Doesn’t Want You to Know

Like many businesses, your local gym has some dirty little secrets that they don’t want you to know about. How clean the gym equipment is — stuff like that. But as it turns out, having dirty treadmills is child’s play compared to some of the other nefarious things your gym is keeping from you.

Whether you are thinking of starting at a new gym or renewing your current membership, you should consider these secrets before making a decision.

They don’t give two licks if your items get stolen

Young women smiling in a exercise room.

As a rule of thumb: Never leave valuable possessions in a locker. | VladTeodor/iStock/Getty Images

You know that sign posted up in the gym locker room stating that they aren’t responsible if your belongings are stolen? That’s the gym’s nice way of saying that they refuse to take any responsibility in the event that your stuff gets jacked. Fitness facilities can be breeding grounds for thievery, but your gym doesn’t want to take responsibility. This can lead you to be stressed about your property for the duration of your workout, making it difficult to focus and get results from your exercise session.

They aren’t properly prepared for an emergency

A group of women in a kickboxing class.

Your gym might not be able to save the day during an emergency. | Dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

Ideally, every fitness facility should be prepared in the case of a medical emergency. If a gym member or employee should suffer a serious injury — or worst case, have a life-threatening episode like cardiac arrest — the staff should be prepared.

Unfortunately, not all states require their gyms to have the proper equipment in case of this emergency. Plus, the gyms that do have them, might not have a staff member present that knows how to work the life-saving equipment.

They’ll tell you any lie to get you to join

Active young woman working out with dumbbells in gym.

Fitness facilities know how to lure you in. | GeorgeRudy/iStock/Getty Images

At the end of the day, gym management isn’t interested in your weight loss goals or your bodybuilding plan. All they care about, especially the big gyms, is how much money they made that day. Fitness facilities are so greedy that even their employees will lie in order to get new members to sign up. They’ll promise you certain amenities that aren’t there, or claim your membership will be cheaper than it really is.

Falling for these fibs can also come back to bite you when you try to cancel. (More on the horrors of cancelling your membership in just a second.)

The more money you spend, the better they treat you

Fitness instructor exercising with his client at the gym.

Your gym might notice who pays for extras … and who doesn’t. | SolisImages/iStock/Getty Images

Like we said, your gym is more interested in your money than anything else. So they’ll jump to help you with whatever you want, just as long as you keep forking over the dough. Sign up for a VIP membership? Awesome. Sign up for those pricey personal training sessions? The gym will treat you like royalty. But if you don’t spend all that money and are neglected, it can leave you feeling down on yourself while you’re at the gym. Feeling low can make you less motivated to workout altogether. And since we mentioned personal training …

Your personal trainer may not be certified

Personal trainer encouraging sad young woman after a hard training day at the gym.

Could your personal trainer be any more experienced than you are? | Doble-d/iStock/Getty Images

This might sound a bit scary. But sadly, it’s true. Men’s Health Magazine tells us that “unlike other health professionals, fitness trainers, a.k.a. personal trainers, aren’t required to have a license, or training, or even experience.”

And not only could your trainer be unlicensed to help you exercise, they might not be trained to handle life-threatening emergencies. “They don’t have to know CPR, or how to find a pulse, or the difference between healthy exhaustion and a diabetic blood-sugar stupor.”

Your cancellation has a ton of fine print

Female athlete with a sports bag listening to music on her mobile phone.

Your gym wants to lock you in for good. | Ammentorp Photography/iStock/Getty Images

For all the trouble fitness facilities go through to get you to sign up, they literally couldn’t be bothered to help you cancel your membership. This can cause you a load of unnecessary stress. So it’s imperative for you to read all the fine print when you sign up, and ask for a copy of your contract to keep. Even some of the nicest gyms around will make you jump through hoops to cancel. Or even worse, continue to charge your credit card even after you think you have canceled properly.

The equipment isn’t as clean as you think

Set of personal sport stuff lay on training bench in fitness gym.

As you might have suspected, your gym’s equipment is full of germs. | Golubovy/iStock/Getty Images

You probably already know that gym equipment is pretty germ-infested. But do you know just how unhealthy fitness facilities can get? Your gym leaves you exposed to truly disgusting conditions like Hepatitis A, folliculitis, and staph infections. Sometimes, even wiping down machines before you touch them isn’t enough to keep you safe.

The cleaning products aren’t as safe as you think

Woman's hand holding spray bottle.

The chemicals used to clean machines and locker rooms could be harmful. | Solar22/iStock/Getty Images

So in order to keep your gym as “clean” as possible, management probably uses some high-potency cleaning products. Unfortunately, these products are just as bad for you. ABC News explains that “disinfectant sprays can contain hundreds of phthalate-loaded fragrance chemicals and VOCs regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal law.” These chemicals can cause anything from headaches to severe conditions like asthma, even cancer.