Each of us has faced many challenges in the last several months and we now collectively look forward to a phased-in reopening of our economies and gaining a semblance of life that extends past quarantine. The world we now encounter is different and foreign in so many ways.
As economies begin to re-awaken, many are thinking about and anticipating returning to gyms and fitness studios. You are likely excited to get back into your old exercise routines in a safe manner. Stay in touch with your local gym/fitness studio and follow their social media about opening dates and new safety protocols that will be in place.
In addition to understanding your gym’s new protocols, take a moment to reflect on your current fitness level coming out of quarantine life. Maybe you have been active during the quarantine – adapting with different types of workouts and/or focusing on certain aspects of fitness like improving your mile time. Or, perhaps you’ve slacked off on your physical fitness during the ongoing weeks of stay-at-home isolation. In either case, getting back in the gym may require you to ease into old routines with a solid strategy.
Here are my tips to get back to your gym routine safely.
Start Slow & Light
Give yourself time to work back into your old gym routines. For many of us, we may want to go BEAST MODE and push hard! That approach can lead to injury so be smart and make a plan. If you’ve been relatively inactive, give yourself several weeks to build up to your old routine.
Even if you have been active, acknowledge if your gym workouts are significantly different than your quarantine workouts. For instance, if you continued strength training at home with body weight exercises or light weights, give yourself time to build back up to the weights you were lifting. Do not expect to go from body weight squats to heavy barbell back squats in your first week back in the gym. That may spell I-N-J-U-R-Y.
Don’t Skip the BOOKENDS of your workout: Warm up and Post-Workout Stretching
This is not the time to by-pass a proper warm up and jump right into a sprint workout or heavy lifting session. Use a foam roller to increase circulation and loosen up knotted fascia and tight muscles. Add mobility drills to increase your joints’ range of motion.
When you finish workouts, schedule in 5-10 minutes of stretching and foam rolling. Shorten your workout if you do not have time for the bookends.
Build in rest periods into your workout – even if you had not previously done that. This includes rest periods between exercises and supersets.
Schedule rest days. These days are perfect for active recovery activities like easy bike rides, walks, and light ocean swims.
Get adequate sleep. Our bodies repair the stress we put them through while we sleep. I recommend setting a ‘bedtime’ alarm on your smartwatch or phone if you have difficulty getting to bed at a reasonable hour. The alarm is a gentle nudge that it’s time to unwind.
Fuel your body with whole foods and water every day
Your body undergoes tissue breakdown and metabolic stress from hard workouts – whether that’s a sprint, HIIT (high intensity interval training), or heavy lifting session. Give your body plenty of water to flush out metabolic waste and whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals to aid in repair.
As we return to lives under the “New Normal”, stay safe, keep bodies and immune systems healthy & train smart.