It seems like everyone is trying to keep fit these days. We’re all eating more sensibly, watching our carbs, and hitting the gym as often as possible. It’s a healthy trend (if you’ll pardon the pun) and one that’s well worth championing. However, hitting the gym is not without its hazards, and I’m not talking about pulled muscles or sprained ankles.

For all of the value that your local gym or yoga studio offers, it’s also a prime hot spot for bed bugs. Yes, you read that right. Bed bugs are becoming an increasingly troublesome problem for commercial health facilities. If you’re one of the millions of people who like to swing by their local fitness center a couple of times a week to keep in shape you need to think about your potential exposure to these blood sucking parasites.

Fitness Centers, Yoga Studios and Bed Bugs

Its not surprising that fitness centers and yoga studios are susceptible to bed bug infestations. After all, any public space that sees a lot of human traffic is going to be vulnerable. It’s the same reason hotels, hospitals, and bus depots are so prone to invasion by bed bugs. With people coming and going all day long, seven days a week, it would be more surprising if stray pests didn’t occasionally take up residence in these busy health centers and fitness studios.

You May Not be the Only One Hitting the Gym

We tend to think of bed bugs are fairly sedentary creatures, but the truth is they’re fairly adventurous travelers. The average bed bug is more than happy to cling to a coat or a trouser leg and hitch a ride with their unsuspecting host. Like it or not this is how new infestations start. We bring the bed bugs with us wherever we go. The same holds true for yoga studios and fitness centers. All of the gear people bring with them to their weekly workout provides ample opportunities for bed bugs to hitch a lift to a new, and potentially more rewarding, environment.

Tips for Avoiding Bed Bugs at the Gym

While recreational facilities and fitness centers may be hot spots for bed bug activity, that doesn’t mean you have to bring them home with you. There are a few simple tips that, when followed, should help you avoid picking up hitchhiking bed bug at the end of a strenuous workout. As always, the key is vigilance.

Keep Your Workout Clothes and Gear Isolated

Your gym bag is a prime target for wayward bed bugs. It’s cool, damp and offers plenty of hiding places. In order to avoid picking up any stragglers keep your workout gear in a sealable plastic bag rather than a cloth carryall or backpack. During your workout keep all of your clothing in the bag, making sure to keep it sealed.

Dirty Clothes go in a Bed Bug Proof Bag

Dirty clothes and towels should be put into a bed bug proof laundry bag after you change into your street clothes. These special laundry bags are made from a bed bug resistant material that reduces the risk of stray bed bugs latching onto your satchel. Bed bug resistant laundry bags are readily available, and can be easily found in a local shop or online.

Wash your dirty workout clothes as soon as possible and on the hottest possible settings. This will typically kill and strays that might have made it through your initial inspection.

Carefully Inspect Your Gear

After your workout carefully inspect your gear before packing up and heading for home. Give your yoga mat, clothing and other belongings a quick once looking for any telltale signs of bed bugs. Clothing should be shaken out and mats should be wiped down before storing them away.

Find a Locker that is Higher than the Rest

While you’re working out you’ll probably want to store your street clothes and other belongings in a locker. Ideally, you want to choose a locker that is on a top shelf, as high as possible. Bed bugs are typically lazy creatures rarely climb if they can avoid it. Keeping your belongings in a high set locker will help reduce your chances of picking up a straggler looking for a new home.

Of course, before you stuff anything in a locker it is always a good idea to give it a quick inspection to make sure there are no bed bugs hiding in the corners.

If You See Something Say Something

Finally, if you see any signs of bed bug activity in your gym or yoga go straight to a staff member and let them know what you’ve found. The sooner they’re notified of the problem the quicker they can take steps to address the issue. Naturally, if they do not address the situation to your satisfaction it’s probably time to find another fitness center.

Keeping Fit and Free from Bed Bugs

Like or not bed bugs can show up just about anywhere, and your local health center or yoga studio certainly isn’t exempt from their prowling. So, before you find yourself bringing home some unwanted guests take the necessary steps to protect yourself from any bed bugs that may have taken up residence at your local fitness center or health club.