A user on TikTok has rekindled a discussion about gym hygiene after recounting a story she saw on the platform.
In a video with over 5.7 million views, TikTok user Alaska (@alaskaaayoung77) claims she heard of a person getting chlamydia after using a towel on their face at the gym.
“Literally a new fucking fear unlocked,” Alaska says in the video. “I was like, bitch, I just started my fucking ‘fitness journey’—but I’m like, another thing to get scared about? I’m like, I’m going to get chlamydia from working out at my fucking gym? Oh, hell no.”
@alaskaaayoung77 NEW FEAR UNLOCKED 😭 #gymscares #workout #fitness #momma #journey #storytime #what #denver ♬ original sound – Alaska
Alaska is likely referencing a video from TikTok user Jayden (@grinny45) in which he tells a similar story to the one shared by Alaska.
According to Jayden, he had gone to the doctor for treatment for his eye issue when he discovered that he had chlamydia in his eye.
After his doctor questioned him about his sexual activity (“I said, ‘listen, I haven’t slept with anyone in three months, four months,’” Jayden recalls), the doctor eventually speculated that the TikToker had contracted chlamydia from another gym-goer.
The video currently has over 4.1 million views.
@grinny45 #stitch with @jaime NEW FEAR UNLOCKED FOR YOUS #fyp ♬ original sound – GRINNY45
“[The doctor] goes, ‘well, chances are that someone has sweated on the seat. You’ve put down your gym towel, wiped your face, and gotten pink eye,’” Jayden remembers.
“Some nasty bitch in my gym [had] chlamydia, [went] fucking commando, sweated on the chair, [then] I’ve put my towel down, wiped my eye, and gave myself fucking pink eye,” the TikToker summarizes.
In the text overlaying the video, he added, “Always use a separate towel for equipment and a separate one for your face.”
So is Jayden’s story true? It’s unclear, though it’s likely possible.
According to the NHS, “Chlamydia cannot be passed on through casual contact, such as kissing and hugging, or from sharing baths, towels, swimming pools, toilet seats or cutlery.”
However, chlamydial conjunctivitis—which is what Jayden appears to be describing—“…can be spread when you get bacteria in your eyes from…sharing washcloths, towels, cosmetics, or false eyelashes,” according to the Tufts Medical Center.
Something to note here is that chlamydia generally can’t live for a long time outside of the human body. The best chance the virus has for survival is in a humid environment—such as a damp towel.
All this said, a case like Jayden’s would require an incredible and unlikely confluence of events—meaning that it’s likely possible, but probably exceedingly rare in the real world.
Still, there are plenty of other ailments one can pick up from uncleaned gym equipment, such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, skin infections, and more. That’s why it’s best practice to wipe down gym equipment before and after use, as Alaska noted in a follow-up video.
@alaskaaayoung77 WIPE DOWN YOUR GYM EQUIPMENT BEFORE AND AFTER PEOPLE 👏🏽👏🏽 #gym #workout #gymscares #momma #journey #denver #slowlybutsurely #what ♬ original sound – Alaska
“I’m back at the gym, going to wipe everything down fucking vigorously because I damn know that just because it’s rare doesn’t mean that it’s not possible,” she says in the video.
“People, clean your fucking equipment. It’s not that hard. Just be courteous to people who are also working out in the gym, and people like me who are scared of fucking everything,” she adds.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Alaska and Jayden via TikTok comment.