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      Gym-goers should exercise some caution

      Keeping equipment clean is critically important and harmful germs may be lurking on the machines that you use.

      Keeping exercise equipment clean is critically important and harmful germs may be lurking on the machines that you use.

      Many gym-goers should exercise some caution in the constant germ-fighting battle. Doctors say in most cases our bodies don't have problems with organisms and our skin is a good barrier to protect us from these potentially harmful viruses. However, you still need to do your part.

      A.T. Still University??s Thompson Center floor attendant, Hank Janssen, said the center's director, Dan Martin, is constantly urging the employees and gym-goers to keep the place clean.

      "For our clientele to be responsible for after they've worked out to use the cleaner, wipe the equipment, wipe the machine down, wipe the benches down and try to do their part and i do think they do a good job with that," said Janssen.

      So, there's no question that working out is a good thing. In fact many of us want that perfect summer body, but while you're working out, there might be a dangerous workout partner that you might not know about. It's called Staphylococcus.

      "Staphylococcus is a bacteria that can get into the bloodstream and cause a very serious infection," said Neal Chamberlain, Ph.D., an A.T. Still University microbiology professor. "That infection can spread to other parts of the body causing any number of things."

      Microbiologists recommend that if you have a cut or abrasion on your skin, place a bandage on it to protect yourself, but they say cuts and scratches aren't the only ways these germs enter our bodies. We can also inhale and ingest them.

      "We commonly are taking our hands and putting them toward our mouth and nose. Staphylococcus like to live in and on nasal packages," said Dr. Chamberlain.

      "We clean two to three times a day with alcohol base cleaners that people wide down the equipment with and the employees are held to that too," said Janssen. "So we try and hit the areas that are most used."

      So before you hit the gym in search of bigger arms, massive chests and smaller waists, be aware that they could be hotbeds for germs.

      "Well one thing is to not to be too worried about it because these organisms are everywhere," said Dr. Chamberlain.