Would You Work Out at a Dirty Gym?

Lisbeth Business, CrossFit, Essays

I love a clean gym. I like a place where I’m not scared to get down on the floor for burpees, and where I don’t worry that I’m going to catch MRSA if a medball grazes my face.

But some gyms are filthy. Why?

I understand that gyms get dirty during the day. I expect that. The box is a place where we sweat and toss stuff down, but at some point that place needs to be thoroughly cleaned. And if you’re working out and you can see the same chalk prints and sweat stains from the day before, something is wrong.

I remember teaching classes at the old CrossFit Watertown in CT, then locking the doors and cleaning like hell. I just wanted to go home, eat something, tuck my kids into bed, and fall asleep so I could get up at 5am and coach again, but I did the cleaning because it had to be done. At least until I could afford to hire someone to do that work.

Best cleaner I ever had at my gym? An exotic dancer. True story. In the wee hours of the morning, she would come in, crank the music, and scrub like crazy in that deserted factory building. My gym never sparkled so much. Maybe everybody should hire dancers.

But a dirty gym says something else. And if you have members complain about your dirty gym? Then you better get cleaning fast. Stop talking and start doing.

As a member, I don’t want to hear excuses about why the gym is dirty, or the cost of cleaning materials or how you trade someone a gym membership for cleaning. (I’d recommend against trading for cleaning, but I know plenty of gyms still do so.)

It’s not that I don’t have a heart, it’s just that—as a customer—I don’t care about your cost of doing business. I care about the value provided to me for the money I’m paying. And cleanliness is value to me.

Does that make sense? Think about when you go to a restaurant and order a meal. If it’s served to you cold instead of hot, when you complain to the waiter, you just want a hot meal. You don’t need an explanation of what happened that caused your meal to be delivered cold. You just want the value of the product for which you are paying. And if the restaurant consistently can’t provide value, then you will find another restaurant that can.

xena paper towelsOne of the measures of value in a gym is cleanliness. (One, not #1 or the only.) And some people don’t mind working out in a dirty place, but a lot of people (especially women) do. And we like soap and paper towels in the restroom. I’m just being honest here. My current gym is crazy clean, but I’ve been to others that don’t seem to share my opinion.

You want to keep your members and gain even more? Pay attention to the cleanliness of your gym. It’s more important than you think.


Lisbeth Business, CrossFit, Essays

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