Any advice for this mild gym problem (breathing)?

Any responsible gym rat has been taught to wipe down the equipment when he or she is finished. Of course this is a good thing (more sanitary, less gross, etc.). Problem is, if I’m well into my set of bench presses or my time on the stair climber, I’m breathing hard. And if someone walks up beside me with alcoholed wipes and lathers it all over the equipment, it makes it harder for me to breathe.

I’m wondering: (1) Does this bother anyone else? (2) How have you coped with it? The only thing I can think of is to avoid people (i.e., go when it’s less busy, pick the most isolated piece of equipment I can).

Side note: This isn’t some huge medical problem. It’s only a minor irritation, but I’d still appreciate it if anyone had any tips to share.

Huh, the use of alcohol wipes seems a little odd. Every gym I’ve been to uses some sort of diluted antiseptic in a spray bottle with paper towels and it doesn’t have much of an odor. Either that, or you’re just expected to wipe the equipment down with your towel.

I do, however, run outside quite a lot and often get passed by cars, trucks, busses, etc. with stinky exhaust, so I know what you mean about noxious smells when you’re breathing hard. I usually just try not to think about it and maybe slow down for a few seconds. Definitely not as bad as other things I encounter on runs like unshoveled sidewalks, mean dogs, dog shit, and cars that would rather run you over than stop at stop signs.

I certainly wouldn’t say anything; it’s too minor and it’s something they are supposed to be doing.

They use the “gym wipes” at both YMCAs where I go.

At our YMCA it’s diluted anti-septic in a spray bottle. YMMV.

Can’t recommend much to the OP other than to wait until all the alcohol has evaporated, and disappeared in the general air circulation. That sucks. I had a problem with a gym in Michigan where they used diluted vinegar and water in a spray bottle, but that’s because I didn’t like smelling like a French fry.

Have you considered dropping a note with the gym management to let them know that the cleaning solution they use is causing you problems? Even if they don’t do anything about it just for you, if you are one of a few people who have complained then they might change something.

My gym’s solution doesn’t have any odor. It’s a solution in a bottle. But I can see that something different might bother me too.

No I hadn’t considered that, but it’s a good idea. Thanks.

My YMCA uses spray bottle (unscented) and paper towels.

Okay, the alcohol must be annoying, but I can’t imagine it ever making me adjust my workout. I mean, the sheer stench of some members hasn’t stopped my yet. And the locker room: Wow, after that I think I would inhale some antiseptic alcohol scent if I could!

Considering the issues in a Y or gym, I am surprised this irritation even ranks!

I agree that you should definitely let management know. Alcohol can be an irritant, dries the skin and isn’t as odorless as most commercial antiseptics other gyms use…

Great username / Op subject combo.

This is a good point you bring up. My company makes GymWipes that have no alcohol, bleach or other harmful chemicals. Tell the gym manager to try our wipes. You will like them much more. Our site is

For those that have spray our wipes are much effective than spray and towels. Tell your managers too to check us.