With the Government's announcement that gyms can reopen after an extended closure, the time has come to get back in to the swing of things.
There's a lot of confusion about various gym rules, what you can and can't do, what facilities are available and so on, so we've put a handy guide together for you. After a week of being open in Scotland (and slightly longer in the rest of the UK) things are looking a lot clearer, although they won't be exactly as you remember them.
Here are a few pointers on how to prepare yourself for your return:
1. Do a little research about your gym’s new rules: at the moment they are advised to limit the number of members in at any given time. Some gyms have introduced booking systems where you have to book a time slot in advance to gain access. Other gyms are manually counting the visitors at the door. If they have a one way entry and exit system, stick to it.
2. Come dressed for action. In most venues the changing facilities are closed, therefore you need to arrive in your gym clothes and if you have a gym bag you'll need to carry it with you during your workout (so the smaller the better).
2. Wear a mask! As of the last couple of days, the government have mandated wearing a mask, until the beginning of exercise. You should be keeping one about your body these days anyway.
3. Practise good hygiene: Gym owners have all been working hard recently to build a safe environment for you, so make sure you respect their rules regarding sanitising any used equipment and using alcohol wipes / gel before you start training. Most gyms have sanitiser stations, hand gel pumps and more so there is no excuse to not be doing this.
4. Have a plan: This one can do wonders for your training anyway. Your gym may enforce time slots, so that means you only have a limited window to get your workout done, usually around 1 hour. There also may be restrictions on using multiple bits of equipment (no supersets most likely) and spotter's may not be available. Factor these in to your plan and use your time wisely.
5. Take it easy at first: Many of us have done our best to keep moving during lockdown, however even with the best of home gym set ups, rarely will you have been loading weights and training with the same intensity that you would in a dedicated commercial gym environment. Your tendons and muscles have likely had 5 months in which they have lost some of the capacity to take the strain of heavy lifting and recover. Avoid potential injury and serious DOMS by being patient with your body, warming up, stretching and starting to lift a fair way under your expected capacity. If you haven't been lifting a certain way for months, don't expect to instantly pick up where you left off.
6. Focus on your recovery. If you do start training heavily again from the get go (which you probably will) then make sure to give yourself a fighting chance at recovering properly. Stretch afterwards if you have time, go for a chilled walk to cool down, or do 20 mins yoga at night in your living room. Whatever works for you, but active recovery cannot be overstated. Make sure your nutrition is on point to feed yourself properly and hit your daily protein and calorie targets, whether that's with the help of supplements or just through whole food sources, it's of paramount importance. And as always, do your best to get a solid 7-8 hours sleep.
The first few days back will be a little different than before but we’ll get used to
them in no time. Remember, we are all in it together. With a bit of planning ahead things should go smoothly both for our training and for our beloved gyms.