With gyms, studios, and fitness clubs re-opening after COVID-19, there are a few strategies you can use when it comes to your fitness routine and your hygienic practices to stay safe when you go back to the gym. By following these strategies, such as scaling back your workouts and wiping down equipment, you can protect yourself as well as those around you.
Easing back into the swing of things
Ready to get back to the gym or fitness studio? Make sure you take the time to ease yourself back into your usual routine by following these tips and tricks:
Warm up properly
Warming up is always important. It prepares your body, loosens the muscles and gets your heart rate up. However, it becomes even more pivotal when you’re heading back to the gym after a long break. This means that your body may be more stiff and tense. Not to mention, you’re also going to be re-introducing movements and weights that you haven’t done in a while, so it’s best to get your body and mind as prepared as possible to stay safe when you go back to the gym. It’ll mean a better fitness performance and a reduced risk of injury.
Set realistic expectations
If you’ve taken up home workouts in lieu of your normal gym ones, then you may be tempted by all the weights and machines when you go back. However, after some time off, it’s fair to say that you most likely won’t be able to lift as heavy as you used to or have the same level of endurance as you did pre-COVID. To stay safe when you go back to the gym, set realistic expectations for yourself on what will be achievable to avoid doing too much and hurting yourself. The good news is that muscle memory works wonders and you’ll be able to get back into your normal fitness and strength level with a consistent routine. But this will mean easing back into it at the start. Don’t pick up the same weight that you were using before. Pick up a lower weight and focus on your form. Eventually, with consistent training, you’ll be able to increase the weight over time and get back to where you were before (and then maybe even exceed it!).
Scale back your routine
The excitement of gyms re-opening may mean you want to do everything and fit in as many exercises as you can. But just remember, you need to ease back into it and this doesn’t just mean cutting down on the weight you lift but also the number of exercises in your session. Focus on the ones that can make the most difference first, like compound movements with a couple of accessories, but then call it a day. You don’t want to overexert yourself too much too fast, because this will just leave you with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). While DOMS may be inevitable after taking such a long break, you can lessen the soreness and the amount of time it’ll take to recover, by not pushing yourself too hard too fast. This will allow you to stay safe when you go back to the gym and get back into the game sooner and more consistently.
Allow yourself rest
A part of making sure you stay safe when you go back to the gym is allowing yourself enough rest. This could mean increasing the rest time in between your sets. It’ll most likely take you longer to recover than it used to. And this also means giving yourself at least one full rest day in between gym days. Scale back on the frequency so that you can develop a steady routine as your body gets used to the gym again, and then you can slowly increase your workouts.
Hygienic strategies to stay safe at the gym
Everyone needs to do their part to stay safe when you go back to the gym. Here are just a few simple yet effective hygienic ways to do so:
Wipe down equipment
Truthfully speaking, this should be the norm prior to COVID, however, it’s important now more than ever to ensure that we are all wiping down our equipment before and after using weights, machines and mats at the gym. Not only will it wipe away sweat, it’ll also help disinfect it and keep it clean for other gym members to use. Your gym should provide disinfectant wipes, spray and towels on hand for you to use.
Maintain your social distancing
The gyms may be open but you may have seen some differences, such as shutting down every second machine or tape measuring out your workout area during class. Follow these spatial guidelines to help maintain social distancing and ensure that everyone has their own personal space and that you can stay safe when you return to the gym.
Follow gym guidelines
Most gyms will have specific measures in place to protect you and everyone else around you. These may include taking your temperature on arrival, using the check-in and check-out system and limiting the number of people at the gym or in class. Some will implement compulsory use of masks while others won’t (though you can still workout with a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable). Whatever protocols your gym has implemented, make sure you follow them for everyone’s safety.
Protect yourself and everyone around you
By setting realistic expectations, scaling back workouts and frequency and slowly working your way up, you can stay safe when you return to the gym, reduce the risk of injury, and still make progress. All the while, remember to wipe down your equipment, maintain social distancing and follow gym guidelines to make going back to the gym as safe as possible for everyone.