Friday, July 28, 2006


Last night I went to teach my ashtanga class at the health club that fired me on Wednesday (it'll take two unpaid hours of paperwork on my part, but they're hiring me back). When I arrived I saw one of the regulars frantically wiping down one of the club's sticky mats. "Did you read today's New York Times Style section?" I asked. He said no, that he always wiped down his mat. Smart man. Because what's news to NYers is old hat to Chicagoans, who've long feared those uneven stacks of Frito-smelling sticky mats. Stinky mats, we call them. Last year a yoga student mounted a mini yoga musical that included the witty full-cast song, "My Community Mat has a Community of its Own." But now that someone in NYC has noticed, stinky mats are hot news:

Communal Yoga Mats: Beware of Germs

Published: July 27, 2006

GREG E. COHEN, a podiatrist at Long Island College Hospital, hears the same story a lot: women complaining about a flaky red bump or a persistent itchy patch on a foot. By the time he sees them, they’re embarrassed and horrified. A few years ago, Dr. Cohen, who also has a private practice in Brooklyn Heights, didn’t know what to make of it, but these days he doesn’t blink an eye.

“The first thing I ask is, ‘Do you do yoga?’ ” he said. As often as not, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

In the last two years, Dr. Cohen said, he has seen a 50 percent spike in patients with athlete’s foot and plantar warts. The likely culprit? Unclean exercise mats, he said.

Gyms have long been hothouses for unwanted viruses, fungi and bacteria, a result of shared equipment, excessive sweat and moisture in locker rooms. Many facilities provide disinfectant so clients can wipe down machinery, but they are often less diligent when it comes to exercise mats. It’s common to see staff members clean a stationary bike. It’s rare to see them disinfect a mat...

To see the full article, click here.


  1. Anonymous11:39 AM

    i heard this yesterday. that's one good reason to always use your own mat. some other reasons are the previous users energy transferring through the bottoms of your feet and their other bodily fluids making a home in the mat. how often do you see people roll up nasty sweat drenched mats, waiting for fermentation & glorious germ farms? i don't think yoga studios should even provide them unless a fee is charged for disinfectant.
    the health clubs are another issue, but most of them don't give a crap about yoga anyhow.

  2. Anyplace where humans sweat is a petri dish of infection just waiting to find a host body.
    Just think how bird flu could spread?

  3. I almost forgot, are Ney Yorkers really that dumb?

  4. dreyfuss' barfly pal10:18 AM

    I tried to transfer some of my "energy" to a girl I met at a bar the other night, but she wasn't going for it.

  5. Dr. Dreyfuss is a girl magnet, he never has had the troubles you describe.

  6. Anonymous4:37 PM

    say what you want about energy transference.
    ignorance is bliss to those with multiple usernames.
    some folks never "get" it.

  7. Anonymous10:42 AM

    ignorance might be you too

  8. Fortunately I have an outdoor spigot and can hang my mat conveinently on my railing which is inside a locked gate. I also like to put a little liquid lavender soap on it. I have been noticing when I teach that I get hives on any part of my legs that are exposed. This does not happen in my own practice. So I am having to wear long pants to teach. It does not happen untill seated poses so I think it comes from kneeling on other people's mats and doing adjustments. Am I actually allergic to some people's sweat? Maybe they let their dog or cat sleep on their mat (why?) both of which I am allergic to.... Or could it be that I am allergic to someone's 'energy' as anon called it.