Faecal fitness: how your gym bag could make you ill

You’ve gulped your industrial strength energy drink, slogged your way through a bout on the treadmill and stretched your muscles with the weights, but keeping trim could be hazardous to your health – if your gym bag has a say in the matter.

Fitness fanatics beware – we’ve tested gym bags, and it ain’t a healthy prognosis.

We carried out swab tests on a variety of gym bags and found high levels of coliform bacteria on the handle.

The worst bags were more than seven times over the safe amount of coliform counts.

But what is coliform and why should you care?

A broad class of bacteria, coliforms can be found in the faeces of humans and warm-blooded animals.

The risk of bacteria

The presence of this harmful bacterium could have a major impact on the risk of cross contamination and, in turn, illness. And a simple trip to the gym, a place rife with touch points and bacteria-harbouring warmth and sweat, could be enough to trigger a major infection.

“Gym bags are portable; we take them with us into our homes, place of work, in our cars and on public transport,” said Dr Peter Barratt, technical manager at Initial Washroom Hygiene. “If they become contaminated, their potential for accumulating and transferring bacteria and virus particles is significant.”

No one wants to miss out on their weekly workout, so what can you do to minimise the risk of infection?

  1. Use hand sanitisers regularly – dirty hands are a hotspot for cross-contamination.
  2. Keep cross-contamination minimal – wipe down all machines with antibacterial wipes before you touch them.
  3. Shower straight after a workout – and keep your towel and wash products clean.
  4. Wipe down your gym bag – it’s a harbinger of germs and an easy spot to miss.

Moreover, ensure your gym is kept spick and span by the owners. With a hygienic washroom facility, no fitness fanatic should leave feeling peaky.


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