Gyms re-opening: 6 experts share their best advice about getting back to training

Posted by for Strong Women

Make your post-lockdown workouts smart, sustainable and enjoyable with this advice from the Strong Women Collective. 

If you’re one of the people who has spent the last four months longing to get back to weight lifting, in-person yoga classes or swimming, then we bet you’ve already packed your bag and laid out your leggings ready for the gyms re-opening this weekend. Or, perhaps you weren’t even a gym-goer pre-lockdown, but have now found a love for home workouts and are ready to take it up a notch with a new gym routine.

Either way, the excitement to get onto the gym floor or into the studio might mean we forget the fundamentals of good training and sustainable fitness. So before you dive in head first, read this advice from six members of our Strong Women Collective.  

SLOW DOWN

Adrienne Herbert, runner and trainer, says:

“If your training routine has changed a lot over the last few months, then you might need to modify your workouts when you first return to the gym. Start off by lifting a lighter weight, allow yourself time to build your strength back up. If you’re wearing a mask to train then that may also impact your performance too, so take it easy.”

ENJOY IT

Alice Miller, fitness trainer, says:

“Don’t feel like you need to punish yourself at the gym. Think about using exercise as a reward for your body.”

Enjoy your training, Alice says

Think back to pre-lockdown: were you feeling good about your exercise? If not, why jump back into the same routine? Use this time to explore different forms of training, classes and trainers to find what feels good for you. There’s no rush to get back to a routine, after all, what is a few more weeks of discovering what you enjoy on top of the four months you’ve already had off?

FUEL AND REFUEL

Renee McGregor, sports dietician, says:

“Don’t forget the importance of fueling. With life slowly returning to a “new normal”, many of us will not only be returning to the gym but also to work. So, while we’ve had the freedom to appropriately and easily fuel around our training while working from home, this is a further challenge many of you will have to consider. Remembering to plan ahead and ensure suitable choices pre- and post-training will result in the desired progression. You want to ensure that you are a sustainable athlete with less risk of getting injured or ill.”

WARM-UP

Laura Hoggins, fitness trainer, says:

“Don’t forget your warm-up! Preparing our body to move external loads takes time, especially if you haven’t been exposed to all the gym kit for the last four months.”

We know this is easier said than done when you’re excited at the prospect of being in the gym and just want to jump straight into your sets of squats. But you’ll only knock yourself back out the gym from stiffness, pain and even injury. 

“If some gyms have strict timing slots, consider walking to the gym or warming up at home to really maximise the time you have. And take the rest periods you need to move safely and effectively,” Laura adds.     

Don't forget to warm up before training

HAVE A PLAN

Emma Obayuvana, fitness trainer, says:

“Have a plan in place before you step into the gym. Really think about what the focus of your workouts will be for the coming weeks so that you don’t feel overwhelmed with all of the equipment. That will also ensure you’re not overdoing it and give you time to ease in.”

STOP COMPARING

Esmée Gummer, trainer, says:

“The biggest one of all is don’t compare yourself to the you before lockdown. Your body is going to feel different and move differently. This is normal. Even if you have been working out from home, your fitness levels will have changed, especially if you are going back to using machines and equipment.”

This also stands for comparing yourself to others in the gym, she says. “Stay in your lane and focus on yourself rather than worrying about what other people around you are doing. You know yourself better than anyone else so be proud of that. Comparison is the biggest killer of joy, be kind to yourself.” 

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts. 

Images: Getty / Benjamin Youd

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