These Fitness Classes Spread More Germs Than a Toilet Seat

Fitness classes can be very invigorating. They increase your stamina by putting you in a group environment. And they give you an incredible workout by a trained professional, so you’re not stuck planning workouts on your own. But unfortunately, they also come with a huge, invisible risk: a bacterial infection. Some classes’ equipment held even more bacteria than a toilet seat (check out pages 3 and 5 for the two dirtiest classes). How harmful are these bacteria? Read on to find out.

Group workouts are becoming more common

Team KRAVE member and health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels hosted a fitness workout

People are loving working out together. | Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Group workouts were listed as one of the top fitness trends for 2018. According to Self, group workouts are defined as a group of five or more people led by a trainer. The workouts are designed to motivate you to push yourself further than you would in a solo workout. While they have great mental and muscle benefits, experts have learned they also come with a big risk.

Next: An increase in participants means an rise in this. 

A rise in fitness classes has led to an increase in gym-related illness

Young women doing workout

Group classes can spread disease. |

In recent years, fitness classes, such as yoga, have seen their attendance numbers increasing. A 2012 survey showed that 20.4 million people in the United States did yoga, up from 15.8 million in 2008. Experts believe the numbers have risen since. However, more people attending fitness classes means there is a higher risk of spreading germs. It may come as no surprise that one study found rhinoviruses (the cause of illnesses, such as the common cold) on 63% of gym equipment. What may come as a surprise, though, are the two workout classes that spread more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Next: You might be surprised by which fitness class was the dirtiest. 

CrossFit takes the top spot for germs

group of athletes doing lunges at a CrossFit facility in France

CrossFit is a breeding ground for germs. | Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

In a study conducted by, CrossFit equipment was found to have nearly 48 times the amount of bacteria as a toilet seat. The average toilet seat has 3,200 culture-forming units per square centimeter. When CrossFit barbells were swabbed from three separate classes, the average number of culture-forming units was a staggering 153,410. And that’s only in 1 square centimeter of equipment. If you’re worried about picking up germs, it might be best to pick up a new fitness hobby.

Next: Here are the bacteria that were found on CrossFit equipment. 

Potentially harmful bacteria are crawling all over those barbells

Nearly 50% of barbells have bacteria. | iStock/Getty Images

According to the study, nearly half of the cultures (47%) found on the barbells were bacillus bacteria. This type of bacteria can be both harmful and helpful to humans, depending on the strain. A combined 51% of the bacteria found were either gram-positive cocci or gram-negative rods. Both of these can be potentially deadly, causing illnesses, such as pneumonia, septicemia, and E. coli. Diseases like those are especially hard to fight if you have a weakened immune system.

Next: This fitness class was the second dirtiest. 

Hot yoga takes the No. 2 spot for most germs

transition from downward-facing dog to another move

Perform hot yoga at your own risk. | Pixabay

Although CrossFit wins by a mile, you should still be wary of hot yoga classes. The average mat for one of these classes had eight times more bacteria than a toilet seat, with 25,533 culture-forming units per square centimeter. And that’s also taking into consideration that most yoga studios wipe down their mats at the end of class. The heat in hot yoga classes makes them a breeding ground for bacteria.

Next: Here are the most common bacteria in hot yoga classes. 

Your hot yoga class could give you a deadly skin infection

You'll think twice about hopping into the hot tub after you read about folliculitis.

Hot yoga is a breeding ground for rashes — or worse. |

Of the bacteria found on hot yoga mats, 52% were gram-positive cocci. These are the bacteria responsible for infections, such as pneumonia, septicemia, and a slew of skin diseases. Some experts have actually suggested that using the floor instead of a communal yoga mat is the better option in the event that you forget your own mat. Infections, including antibiotic-resistant MRSA and HPV, have also been found on yoga mats.

Next: These fitness classes were much cleaner than a toilet seat. 

Barre and cycling class equipment had far fewer bacteria

Cycling classes are the cleaner alternative. |

Barre and cycling equipment were both much cleaner than a toilet seat. Although the bar and the bike both had bacteria, there were only 13.3 culture-forming units per square centimeter on the bike. The bar used in barre class was the cleanest piece of equipment tested, with only 10 culture-forming units, making it 320 times cleaner than a toilet seat.

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