STINKY MATS IN THE NEWS
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
By ABBY ELLIN
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...
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