5 things to remember as we to return to the gym

Many people will be feeling trepidation about heading back to their local studio or leisure centre.

Liz Connor
Monday 12 April 2021 08:00 BST
A woman doing push ups at the gym.
A woman doing push ups at the gym.

After months of exercising at home in front of laptops, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for people in England who have been missing their old workout routines.

From Monday April 12, gyms across the country are permitted to reopen their doors, with social distancing, regular cleaning and other Covid-secure measures in place, to safeguard against the virus.

If you haven’t stepped foot in a gym for several months, it can be daunting to think about diving straight back into weight lifting or treadmill training. While some people have spent lockdown smashing their fitness goals, you may have taken a rest from your usual workouts. Here are some key points to consider as you ease yourself back in.

1. Be prepared to have forgotten everything

Considering it may have been over a year since you last stepped foot into the gym, it might be wise to spend some time familiarising yourself with the equipment before you throw yourself back into your first session.

There’s a good chance you’ll have forgotten how to work the gym machines, as well as the correct form for lifting heavy weights without risking injury.

Your gym will have implemented new Covid-safe measures that will make things feel a bit different from the way they were before lockdown, too. Take things slowly, so you can build up your strength and confidence on the gym floor.

2. Everyone is in the same boat as you

Sure, there are those friends on Instagram who have spent lockdown getting fitter than ever, but the vast majority of us will be feeling a bit self-conscious about returning to the gym.

As keen as you might be to get back to peak physical fitness, accept that the last year has been a stressful one, and that it’s OK if you took some time off from training.

You’re probably not as strong or fit as you used to be, so start off by using lower weights and adding more rest time between sets. Pushing your body too far will only put you at risk of injury.

3. You’ll probably forget to pack something

Carrying a gym bag is a pretty alien concept to us now, so keep in mind that whether it’s a sweat towel or a water bottle, there’ll probably be something you inevitably neglect to grab on your way out of the door.

It may seem simple, but packing your bag the night before is definitely one of those things you skip and then regret the next day. Lay out your kit ready for the morning so you won’t overlook something important.

4. You can still do classes at home

Indoor exercise classes will also be banned when gyms reopen, in an attempt to reduce contact between people as they workout.

If you’re not a fan of the ‘open gym’ concept that many gyms are implementing with the easing of restrictions, remember that you can carry on with your usual yoga, Pilates or cardio classes at home.

There’s not long to wait until May 17, when people will hopefully be allowed to mix indoors again at gym classes.

5. You will probably ache the next day

If you’ve been taking a rest from Zoom workouts over recent weeks, prepare to deal with some level of discomfort in the days after your gym session.

It’s normal for delayed onset muscle soreness (Doms) to occur when you increase the duration or intensity of your exercise, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

While waking up and feeling like everything hurts is never fun, the good news is that the soreness should only last for a few days. Plus, if you warm up before your session and cool down afterwards, it can significantly reduce your chances of wincing through the week ahead.

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