Tips for Getting Back in Shape when Gyms Reopen
Updated: Aug 1
Ultra Sports Clinic offers some advice on getting back in shape as gyms start to reopen.
As gyms are getting ready to reopen on 25 July, you might be super excited about getting back into shape. But diving straight into your usual workout routine may not be the best idea.
A lot of us will have noticed some changes to our bodies during lockdown, whether that’s a few extra pounds or a slight loss of muscle mass. It’s important to acknowledge this and assess the various causes and possible remedies.
Listen to your body
Weight gain can be attributed to multiple factors. It’s likely that you’ve been moving less and eating the same amount of food as usual (or maybe more), which means your body simply hasn’t been burning enough of the calories that you’ve consumed.
Perhaps you’ve also been drinking more alcohol than usual, which is completely understandable given the circumstances, but something worth monitoring. Stress can also be a factor. Higher levels of cortisol caused by stress can lead to weight gain.
Ensure you have a balanced diet including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein and a good amount of pulses, seeds and nuts. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and cut down on sugary drinks.
Incorporate activities into your daily routine to relieve stress. Mindfulness meditation and yoga both use deep breathing techniques, which are great ways to keep your mind and body calm.
Even if you have been really motivated and kept up your fitness levels during lockdown (congratulations!), you’ve probably been doing very different exercises to what your body was previously used to doing in the gym.
Approach getting back into shape holistically
Design your workout strategy for your whole body rather than focusing on specific muscle groups, at least for the first few weeks. In addition to any weight gain, it’s likely you’ve also experienced some muscle loss, so be cautious with weightlifting.
If you try to lift the amount of weight that you were lifting before lockdown you are likely to injure yourself. Resistance bands are a great way to help recondition your muscles. Exercises such as squats, planks, hip raises, lunges and shoulder taps can all help to make sure your core is strong, which is an important factor in avoiding injury.
You will need to gradually build up the full range of mobility and flexibility that may not have been possible during lockdown. Any return to exercise needs to be done gently and gradually and it’s super important that you warm up properly. This will help reduce the chance of injury.
Set small, achievable goals
Track your progress either by simply writing down your activity or downloading one of the many apps on the market. It’s also a good idea to take note of your eating and sleeping habits to consider what impact they are having on your progress.
Slowly increase your workout level, but don’t rush. Getting back into shape will take time. Start with 50% of your usual level or exercise - whether that be lifting weights or the distances you’re used to running or cycling. Increase to 75% in the second week and build up to 100% in the 3rd or 4th week.
If your goals are too difficult to achieve, you’re more likely to lose motivation. Simple, attainable goals will help you stick with it and see results in the long term.
Remember to stretch
It’s normal for your muscles to ache for a day or two after exercise but try not to overdo it. Allow some days for simple stretching rather than intense exercise. Why not treat yourself to a massage? Obviously, if you experience sudden or intense pain, be sure to stop. As always, we’re here if you need us for any treatments.
Show your body some love
Try not to entertain negative feelings about your body if it’s changed during lockdown. Just like your mind, your body has been under enormous strain navigating through the uncharted waters of a pandemic. Be thankful that it has kept you safe. Focus more on how your body feels rather than how it looks.
Be kind to yourself and don’t forget to wash your hands!