Gyms reopening: women discuss the future of fitness and if they will go back to the weights room

Posted by for Strong Women

What will your post-lockdown workout regime look like? We asked three women if they’ll be rushing back to the gym or avoiding it for the foreseeable future.

What are you doing this weekend? It’s a question that most of us berated at the beginning of lockdown, with the obvious answer being “nothing”. Since last weekend, that’s changed. Some people will be going on holidays, in the UK or abroad. Others have tables booked at their favourite restaurants or pubs. And then, of course, there are those who are going to their parents, partners or friends and finally mix indoors.  

Boris Johnson planned for the beginning of July as a date where life would get back to normal from the beginning, suggesting that date in his official lockdown speech. Yet, as a flurry of pubs, hotels and, er, paint-balling sites have opened their doors to customers, there’s a clear industry that is still remaining locked down: fitness.

Gyms are still bolted up to the public, despite the culture secretary’s comments that the beginning of July was still looking good as a date for fitness centres to reopen

On Twitter, people have been quick to call out the fact that, if lockdown is a health related issue, opening pubs before gyms feels wrong. And a study by The University of Oslo also showed that going to the gym won’t increase your chances of getting coronavirus

There’s lots of political, economic and social reasons why Johnson and his advisors have chosen to open things in the order they have, and that’s a conversation for another time. But, while we are left gym-less for even longer, we’re left to think about what we want from our new workout routines. When Strong Women put the question to a survey to our Instagram followers, 80% of people who responded said that their gym routine, when they can get back to it, will be different: rather than heading there every day, they’ll keep some home workouts in their plan.

We asked three women about what they want from their workouts going forward. Here’s what they had to say.

“Home workouts are here to stay,” says Meena Alexander

“After long being intimidated by the gym, a year ago I started doing sessions with a personal trainer and fell in love with it – lifting weights and doing circuits under the supervision of someone who really knew what they were doing, I immediately felt myself getting stronger. 

So when lockdown was first announced, I was pretty gutted about the gym closing – I felt that without a trainer and the equipment I was used to, I’d be back to square one in no time. Fast forward to three months in, and it’s the opposite – having bought myself a few dumbbells and resistance bands, I’m exercising at home more than I ever did at the gym (time wasted travelling is no longer a turn-off), and my confidence in my own ability to get a good workout in without someone else telling me what to do has grown. 

Add to that the niggling worry about gym hygiene, plus the fact that I’m saving a lot of money, and the idea of going back is no longer so appealing. When the pandemic is a distant memory, I may consider an occasional session with a personal trainer who can encourage me and improve my form, but my love for home workouts is definitely here to stay.”

“Lockdown has taught me I can achieve my goals without the gym” - Charlotte Malpass

“Before lockdown I would drag myself out of bed at 5:30am and head to the gym. My morning routine was strict: arrive at the gym at 6:30am, workout until 7:30am, shower and get ready and be on the tube to work by 8:30am. Looking back it was so stressful just to workout for up to an hour. Since lockdown, I slip out of bed, exercise for a longer amount of time than before, and I don’t have to worry about what gym attire I’ve got on. I even find time to stretch before and after, which has done wonders for my posture and mobility – not to mention my stress levels. 

Lockdown has taught me that with motivation and my little 5KG dumbbells I can still achieve my fitness goals. However, although my routine is so much more simpler, I’ve found myself frustrated by the news that gyms aren’t opening today. I do truly miss the atmosphere, the heavier weights, and the friends that I’ve made. 

I will 100% be continuing with home workouts on days I just don’t want to get up at 5:30am to travel to the gym before work, but I’ll never stop going altogether.”

“The gym keeps me going through my day of working” – Claudia D’Ettorre

“Almost every night for the past two years I have set my alarm for 6am to make sure that I have enough time to spend in the gym before going to work. Without realising it at the time, my gym had become my new morning coffee. Every time the weights got heavier, the dumbbells got bigger, the more plates were added onto the bars, the more excited I was.

So, when I realised the lockdown rules were getting stricter I immediately ordered all the weights I could find online. I was lucky enough to get heavy enough weights to keep my muscles and mental health happy. I replaced a soft bench with the wonky, wooden one in my garden, the squat rack with the fences surrounding my building, the step with a wall and concrete floor became my new stretching mat. 

I have to carry my 80KG worth of equipment up and down the stairs every time I want to train, so I’m definitely missing the simplicity of the gym. But I also just want my gym people back, to have my girls around while we exercise and push each other to always do a little bit more.

When Boris said gyms won’t reopen today, I felt crushed. We’ll get there eventually, but I’m concerned that they might set time limits on people to be in the gym. A one hour time block is not enough for me but I am totally willing to sacrifice some time of my training session to be back in my favourite gym.”

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Image: Getty

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