After months of home workouts, online exercise classes and daily walks in the local area, people looking to boost their fitness will soon be able to return to the gym as lockdown measures begin to ease.
Whether you are a fitness enthusiast looking forward to getting back to the gym after months of working out at home, or are completely new to gym-going and are looking for tips on how to get started, here is how to prepare for going back to the gym and ease yourself back into exercise, according to the experts at OriGym.
Familiarise yourself with new measures
Gyms across England could be permitted to reopen their doors from 12th April, if tests for easing lockdown are met, whilst gyms in Scotland will be set to reopen from 26th April. No date has been set in Northern Ireland or Wales as yet.
Initially, you will only be allowed to visit the gyms alone, or with other members of your household.
Various new measures will have been put in place to keep customers and staff members safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, so take some time to familiarise yourself with your surroundings and your gyms social distancing policy. Is there a one way system? Are there hand sanitising stations? Will you need to change at home?
Plan your workout in advance
When gyms reopen, it’s likely that many will have strict time limits to adhere to. Given that you may not be permitted as much time as you would have typically spent before lockdown, it may be a good idea to plan your workout in advance so you can take advantage of the time you do have.
One thing to bear in mind is when the gym is most/least likely to be busy. The more people there are in the gym, the more likely it is that you may not be the first in line for the equipment you want to use. So you may want to plan alternative exercises that meet the same end goal so you're not waiting around for equipment.
Ease yourself back into it
When planning your workout, be sure to set realistic goals. Although it may be tempting to level-up your current workout after months away, try not to push your body further than you need to on the first visit back.
Even for those who have been exercising at home, your workouts are likely to have been for shorter periods of time and at a lower intensity. Gym-goers are advised to start small when they make their back to the gym, especially when it comes to treadmills and weight racks.
Start slow, give your body time to adjust, and avoid sustaining any injuries from going too hard, too soon.
Check in with your body
If you don’t ease yourself back into exercise after months away, then you could put yourself at risk of sustaining an injury. Before you head back to the gym take note of how your body moves and feels. Are there any injuries, or soreness?
An extended period of inactivity can affect your physical performance, so during your first few sessions, it may be a good idea to focus on flexibility exercise - increasing blood flow, range of motion and joint mobility.
Pushing yourself too hard when you first start back could set your fitness levels back by having to take time off again. And always be sure to warm up and cool down before and after exercising!
It goes without saying that we could probably all benefit from drinking more water. After months of working from home drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee, or wine on the weekend, heading back to the gym may require more hydration than usual.
Water stations are likely to be out of use at the gym for the time being, so be sure to take your own drink or water bottle with you when you go to gym. Listen to your body and stay hydrated!
Look after yourself outside of the gym
Maintaining a healthy fitness routine doesn’t just start and end with the exercises you do at the gym. How you look after yourself and your body outside of the gym, and during downtime, is just as important.
We all know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle also includes being kind to ourselves, looking after our mental wellbeing, eating a balanced diet (everything in moderation!) and having a good sleeping routine.
How you treat yourself outside of the gym will have a huge impact on your performance in the gym, so set yourself realistic goals and don’t be too hard on yourself if getting back into the swing of things takes a little longer than first expected.
These are just some of our top tips for a safe and pleasurable return to the gym. If you’re looking for inspiration on workouts to try at home in the run up to your return, check out some of our favourite exercises for improving your flexibility!