No Longer a Gym Germaphobe

I was just thinking today at the gym on how I no longer worry about catching some germ during my workouts. For a few years it was a concern of mine. From the post My 10 Gym Tips For 2010:

2. Don’t Get Sick The gym is loaded with germs. Many of the people in a gym are cardio junkies and have compromised immune systems. The solution is NEVER touch your face. Got sweat dripping by your eye? Use a towel. When you get home, wash your hands like a surgeon.

Although I still agree with the statement above, I solved it in unique way. I no longer break a sweat at the gym. I do a very brief high intensity workout using super slow or static hold movements. I am able to recruit and fatigue muscle fibers quickly and safely. One set to failure. My workouts never exceed 15 minutes, so I’m never there long enough to over heat.

People continually confuse sweat with intensity. If you are sweating it is because your body is trying to cool you down. The resources and energy that could have been used for deeper muscle recruitment have been shifted to temperature regulation and now are a limiting factor in generating more intensity.

One of the problem with Glitter Gyms is they keep the temperature too high. It is often 70 degrees at 24 Hour Fitness. Thankfully I wear a tank top and pace myself so I never have to break a sweat. If I’m wiping sweat off my forehead then I know my intensity could have been higher had I trained smarter or cooler.

no sweat

Photo by Lisa Padilla

What is the perfect temperature for a gym? From the post High Intensity Training at Ideal Exercise.

Unlike the Glitter Gyms, the temperature at Ideal Exercise was a crisp 61-62 degrees. I love it. Back when I was in Queen Anne at Prorobics, Id open the window even in the dead of winter to drop the temperature in the free weight room. My goal was not to sweat, but to lift heavier weights. Heavier weights, not sweat is what makes you stronger. I later learned from an interview with Dr. McGuff that 61 degrees was ideal for generating the most intensity. Intensity is not about increasing your core temperature and sweating off calories. Intensity is about recruiting maximum muscle fibers in a brief and safe manner. Weight training will increase your core temperature, so starting from a cool temperatures will allow you to be comfortable and not hot when lifting. Therefore you can direct more attention and energy into the weights.

Beyond the sweat issue, I consume fermented vegetables daily and get excellent sleep. Both are great habits to have when building a strong immune system. Now even though I am no longer a gym germaphobe, most of you guys who are spending hours every week in the gym while eating dead food should still be concerned. My personal observation is that cardio junkies are some the sickest people I know. Worse than drunks.


Add yours

  1. i subscribe to the theory that getting sick is the by product of a compromised immune system. i do everything i can to strengthen my immune system and don’t fear germs. i shun the constant use of sanitizers. germs are unavoidable. it’s like living in a shooting range. better to have good armor than to try to constantly dodge the bullets.

  2. @Chuck – I love your analogy. Sickness is all around us. We can’t dodge it, but we can put better defenses.

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