The Covid-19 pandemic has altered everyone’s routine!

Whether you were a fitness fanatic before the gyms closed or not, you have more than likely felt a shift in your physical and mental health since ‘lockdown’ began.

As the NHS revealed that almost one million people downloaded its ‘Couch to 5k’ app between March and June, suggesting more people were using their time to stay active, it’s clear exercise should play a critical role in our lives. 

Now that gyms have been given the green light to reopen their doors from 25 July, it’s important to remember that things won’t be the same as they once were. No matter how well you managed to kit out a makeshift home gym, you’ll have to accept that there will be a certain period of ‘warming-up’ before you are back to your pre-lockdown strength and stamina level.

To help you to enjoy your return to the gym and avoid any fitness-related injuries, here are our tips for easing back into workouts this summer.

Go slow. Go light.

The most important thing to remember is you probably won’t be able to go into the gym and lift what you used to before – or go as far or as fast with cardio. Four months is a long time to be away from your usual machines, weights and equipment – but we’re all in the same boat, so take the pressure off and go easy. 

Getting fit isn’t a race, so don’t feel the need to compete with anyone else. Take it slow and listen to your body – if it needs a rest, TAKE A REST.

Setting achievable goals for your first session, and the upcoming weeks and months ahead, will help you to stay focused and motivated. You may want to get back to a ten-minute climb one week and then aim to reach half of what you lifted on a bench press at the start of the year for another. 

Start each exercise with a body check-up, beginning with very light weights for each muscle and working up slowly to find your limit. 

Back into the groove

Getting back into your old routine is important, but at the start, it may need some tailoring. First, check with your gym to see what regulations it is putting in place for training. While some are taking bookings, others may be doing a capacity cap so make sure you know what is expected when you return. 

Once you know the new ground rules, try to build up to the number of days in the gym you did before, but cut the session length down – at least for the first few weeks. This will help you get back into the groove of your old routine but also keep you from pushing yourself too hard. If you wake up one day and feel your body shouting at you for a rest, make sure you listen to it and rest – or swap in a yoga and stretch class instead.

If your motivation is low, get yourself an accountability partner that will be able to workout with you and keep you energised. Social support helps establish the exercise routine and makes it more enjoyable – just make sure to adhere to social distancing rules.

Be nice to yourself

While it has felt like a lifetime since gyms were open, in reality, you probably won’t have lost that much strength – especially if you have been working out at home during the lockdown. What will take time, however, is your aerobic abilities. It may take weeks until we finally feel ourselves again, so you need to remember that you won’t be back to ‘normal’ overnight. Trust the process!

The best way to keep your body fighting fit is to be strict with movement around your workouts. Always stretch after exercising to eliminate the lactic acid and keep your muscles relaxed, and if you’re still working from home avoid slouching on the sofa after hitting the gym. Find excuses to get up and walk around your house, whether that is making yourself a cup of tea, taking the washing upstairs, or getting outside for a walk at lunchtime. 

Finally, remember that the last time you worked out, it was very early spring. We are in the summer now so you may feel heavier and get fatigued much quicker than usual – that is if the British summer decides to be hot this year!

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of heading back to the gym just yet but still want to stay fit, read the advice in our best home workout regime blog.

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