Gym and studio classes are back on, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should completely ditch the lockdown fitness regime that you’ve built over the past year. Strong Women editor, Miranda Larbi, argues that it’s worth making room for home, gym and outdoor exercise in our lives to boost our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Fitness classes are finally back on. At long last, we can spin, dance and sprint ourselves silly - without dripping sweat all over the carpet or knocking over the bedside table. The full reopening of gyms will come as a relief to anyone who didn’t have the room or motivation to move freely during lockdown, but for others, it may well feel a little overwhelming.
Many of us have either taken up or fallen deeper in love with running over the past year. According to the NHS, almost one million people downloaded the official Couch to 5k app last year – a 92% increase from 2019. To help make running easier, you may have started to do YouTube yoga, HIIT Instagram Lives or joined something like the SWTC Strength Training for Runners programme. Commuter chaos was swapped for long, local walks or bedroom workouts.
Now that gym classes are back on, however, does that spell an end to lockdown fitness regimes?
I’d like to think not. While gyms absolutely have their place and I’ve missed studio time, it’s a fact that beginners have been able to take exercise at their own pace thanks to home workouts and apps. Fitness fanatics have learnt to slow down and relish movement, and chronically busy people haven’t had to choose between work, social lives and wellbeing. “I much prefer doing yoga at home than going to a studio!” explains Jessica, a busy freelance writer. “I prefer being able to fit it around my day and also not wasting time travelling to/from a class.”
There’s something great to be said for having the option of standing up from our desks, already dressed in our running kits, and being able to leave the front door at 1pm for a run – and be back at our lunch-laden desks having showered by 2pm. I personally don’t want to lose that freedom.
Exercising at home has given me and many others an opportunity to try new things without fear of judgment. You can play your workout music out loud instead of needing headphones. You can stop the video, lower the weight and jump into the bath as soon as you’re done. Oh, and don’t forget the financial savings you can make from spending £60 on a year’s online subscription rather than paying £15 a class or £50 a month for gym space. It all adds up.
As restrictions have lifted, my lockdown fitness regime provided a real sense of stability; it hasn’t really changed since March 2020 when I switched up my boxing and HIIT classes to concentrate on running and accessory work. The daily walks and near-daily runs in local nature spots have provided me with a sense of clarity and happiness that gyms simply can’t replicate. Despite there being no need to continue doing my home workouts in a room so narrow that I can’t stretch my arms horizontally without hitting the TV, I know I’ll keep at least part of my lockdown regime going into the future.
It’s worth saying that I’ve already booked three studio classes for this week. I know that I’ll feel incredible after an hour’s hot yoga at Third Space or a super strength class at Frame, and I’ve been looking forward to getting back in these spaces for months. Of course, home workouts aren’t for everyone. “I’m so excited to get back to the studio for classes because I tried the at-home stuff and really disliked it,” says Charlotte. “I need someone kicking my ass in person and to be getting fit somewhere that’s nowhere near my bed…or my room.”
Maybe more of us are like Charlotte than we like to admit, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still keep in our walks and runs, our gentle stretches and YouTube videos. After this week, I’ll probably do a mixture of in-studio and at-home workouts.
If you like what you’ve been doing over lockdown, don’t stop it just because there’s another option. Gym classes are brilliant; working out around other people, taking direction from fantastic PTs and instructors and having access to (usually) better equipment can provide a real boost to your workout. But don’t ditch the stuff you’ve learnt to love. Keep on rolling out of bed onto your mat. Keep on running at lunchtime. And keep on enjoying the fact that you don’t have to schlep anywhere to move your body.
Ready to take your running up a notch? Hop on over to the SWTC video library where you’ll find a range of 30-50 minute workouts to complement every kind of running goal – led by our brilliant trainers.
Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.