We know that the thought of returning to the gym after spending the last 11 months isolated can be a daunting one. Our mental and physical health’s have taken a hit due to lockdown but don’t worry, we’re here to help in any way that we can. Our members health and wellbeing are our priority, so we’ve put together a variety of advice to help get you started again.
If you feel anxious, we recommend avoiding visiting the gym during peak times. Monday to Friday 08:45 – 11:15 & 16:00 – 20:00 are the peak times for all of our gyms and are the busiest times. Although we have limited all gym session spaces to allow for social distancing, coming at an off-peak time will help to manage your anxiety as the gyms are noticeably quieter.
Off-peak gym sessions don’t need to be booked either, so you can just turn up whenever feels best for you and if when you’re on your way you decide you’re not ready yet, that’s okay there’s no booking to cancel.
Since the pandemic hit, we have changed a few things in our gyms to help stop the spread of the virus in our venues and keep everyone safe whilst with us. This includes the wearing of face masks in the venue until you are in the gym, the addition of cleaning stations and the relocation of equipment to allow for social distancing. By making yourself aware of the changes before you come, you can help ease any anxiety you may have about what to expect. We have a Welcome Back page with a full list of FAQs to help, you can find this here.
We ask that you clean every piece of equipment you use before and after you use it, to help stop the spread and appreciate your cooperation during this time.
It’s important not to run before we can walk, and after having so much time away from the gym our muscles unfortunately won’t be what they used to be (unless you’re lucky enough to have an at home gym!). Build yourself up and start with the basics, we recommend starting and finishing your workouts with stretching to avoid DOMS and warm your muscles up.
It’s best to take it light when it comes to lifting weights. The last thing you want to do is a massive session your first day back, feel great and then 48 hours later be unable to move. After a long break, your muscles are more susceptible to damage and soreness, so starting with a lighter weight than what you used on your last visit will be beneficial in the long run. Trust us!
The heavy, strongman sets where you push yourself to the absolute maximum can wait, for now focus on smaller weights and more reps. It can be daunting and a little upsetting thinking about your muscle loss since before the pandemic hit. Your first few sessions back in the gym should focus on technique and remembering how to move correctly with the weights to minimise injuries. Increase the number of reps and sets with a weight that you can move comfortably and consider working with a bare bar before adding weights to it. You will be activating muscle memory as your body remembers what it’s like to train, so be patient with yourself. You will get back to where you were eventually!
Standard compound movements such as bench presses, squats or overhead presses, will form a foundation and allow you to move on to more technically demanding moves. After such a long time away, it’s best for your health to relearn the fundamentals. This way you’re in a better position to graduate on to more complex exercises without causing yourself injury. Although more demanding moves can be useful when you are ready, an exercise like an overhead squat (where you squat while holding a barbell above your head) will be more trouble than it’s worth at the start. Your body is relearning movements it hasn’t performed for a long time, so establish the basics before asking it to negotiate trickier exercises to reduce the risk of an injury.
Stay positive and motivated by focusing on your long-term goals and remember to track your activity. By tracking your activity, you can see just how great you’re doing and be proud of the progress you’re making, no matter how small it is. Tracking your MOVEs through the free Activ8 app, or a fitness tracker connected to the app, will help you to stay positive about your progress and motivate yourself to push further.
One of the worst things we all do for our mental health when in the gym is compare ourselves to others. This is the first time for a while that you’ll be working out next to others and there might be a temptation to feel intimidated or defeated before you’ve even begun, when you see what others are doing around you. Remember, we’re all starting out again and finding our feet, other people may be faster or using a heavier weight – that’s okay. Focus on you and what you’re doing, on your progress and how well you’re doing. Your tracking will help you to stay focused on this too!
It’s been a tough year for everyone and our bodies may have gone through a lot since before the pandemic hit. Those of us who have been affected by COVID or other health conditions in this time, our bodies may still be recovering and we don’t want to do too much too quickly. Listen to your body, if it’s tired then take a rest. We all need to rest, so don’t feel bad about doing so. You’re doing great!
Our gyms have great community feels about them and our members aren’t scary, even if some of them may look a little! Before the pandemic, some of us may not have placed sufficient value on being around other people. Lockdown has taught us all humbling lessons about the importance of interacting with others. Our gyms are more than likely filled with people who also want contact and are excited to be back. Who isn’t excited? It may be (gasp) time to occasionally slip off your headphones and have a conversation with the people around you. Starting a conversation with someone in the gym is easier than you think, who doesn’t want to hear that their form is great or hear advice to help their techniques?
Our friendly gym staff are also on hand and have missed you all, so why not pick up a conversation with them too! Knowing people in the gym makes the experience not only less daunting, but more fun. You can bond with people who have similar interests and you never know, you may even make friends for life.