Tea tree treat

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Certified Health Coach and longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

So….you have decided to invest in a home gym.  Good for you!  Individuals who possess fitness equipment in their homes really have no excuse for not exercising regularly.  The convenience of working out at any hour of the day or night certainly appeals to those of us with busy and often unpredictable schedules.

If in fact you are utilizing your home gym often, thereby maximizing your wellness potential, the dawn of realization will hit you quite promptly: there is no “magic gym fairy” who flies in on gossamer wings and cleans your machines!  As a proud owner of fitness equipment, this chore falls to you.

Natural cleaning products are always the safest and best for all materials, and sturdy fitness equipment is no exception.  At the top of the list of effective natural cleaners is tea tree oil. Known as Melaleuca alternifoliais, tea tree oil is an essential oil that has been extracted from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, native only to Australia. One factor contributing to its meteoric rise in the public eye is that this plant does not occur anywhere else in nature. Within the last 10 years, much attention has been focused on tea tree oil due to its healing benefits. 

The secret behind its mystique is fascinating; my college degree is in Microbiology so “fascinating” truly is the first word that popped into my mind!  Still, I think the science is worth sharing. Once tea tree oil comes into contact with a surface requiring cleaning, it can cause bacterial cell bursting. It can inhibit a bacterium’s glucose-dependent respiration. In fact, tee tree oil has been shown to induce cell death when a colony of bacteria are in their exponential growth phase. 

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If this scientific analysis doesn’t convince you, I’d encourage you to try it for yourself.  It is expensive, but a few drops go a long way; and once prepared, the spray has an indefinite shelf life.  You can prove to yourself how effective this is for ridding surfaces of mold and mildew with a simple test: combine 2 teaspoons of Australian tea tree oil in a spray bottle with two cups of water.  Spray the mixture on something musty. The smell is strong but will dissipate within two to three days. The smell of mold and must will be gone, too, never to return as long as the source of moisture problem has been eliminated. Think of all the toxic fumes you won’t be inhaling by not using traditional household cleaning products! 

The tea tree oil/water spray is just as effective on your gym equipment, including exercise mats.  You may use it as a cleanser as often as once a week without harming surfaces.  Knowing how antiseptic and germ-free your equipment is might even make you use it more often….a win-win!