Gymdependence day. What to consider when gyms reopen after COVID-1922.07.20
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week you would have seen the news that gyms have now reopened across the UK. Gym goers and newbies to training will be chomping at the bit to get to their local gym and get lifting again. I know I am!
But wait. Before you do, you may want to read on.
Your ‘new gym’ considerations
You see, there will be a few things to consider before you go head-first into the ‘new normal’ world of fitness.
From masks to screens, distancing to access. Heading to the gym is going to be a vastly different experience to how it was pre-lockdown.
Over the last four months, I have been speaking to a number of personal trainers and gym owners from different areas of the country. We have discussed the benefits and drawbacks of our new normal and what you can do to make the most out of this challenging time.
So, with this in mind, I thought I would share some of the main changes that you expect to see in your local gym and answering some of the questions we have been asking in the run-up to ‘gymdependence day’.
What to do before you go back to the gym
Here is a shortlist of what to expect when you head back.
- Almost all gyms will have a booking system for your visit. This means you will have a set workout time slot over just turning up when you see fit.
- There will be a one-way system in place on your gym floor. This means planning your workout is essential. More on this later.
- In some cases, your workout time will be limited to 60 minutes (or under).
- No shower facilities
- Although not confirmed yet, there is a possibility that masks will need to be worn while you train.
- Social distancing will be in effect. So, no spotting your training partner!
Question: If I have to move around the gym in a one-way system. How do I make the most of my workouts?
I get it, the thought of moving round and round the gym to reach your chosen piece of equipment can be a frustrating one. But do not fear, there is a way to minimise this frustration while still getting a kick-ass workout.
The solution? Planning.
Taking a little time to plan your sessions in advance will be vital to both your enjoyment and your progress.
Don’t know where to start? Follow these simple steps and tweak depending on the layout and equipment in your gym.
- Set your goals. Knowing what you’re training for will give you the motivation to plan the best workout possible.
- Find out the new layout of your local gym. This may mean taking an ‘exploratory’ session to view the new layout. Once you know the what’s and where’s of the gym floor, you can implement point 3.
- Pair exercises using the same equipment. This is key to workout success in this instance. Let’s use the example of a full-body session.
Bench and dumbbell pairing
A1. Dumbbell Squat
A2. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press.
B1. Barbell static lunge or split squat
B2. Barbell Bent-over row
C1. Cable Pull Through
C2. Cable Lateral raise
D1. Standing Bicep Curls
D2. Overhead triceps extensions.
Pairing exercises using the same kit will almost certainly be more beneficial for you than wondering around the one-way system waiting for a piece of kit to become available. This superset style workout will almost certainly answer the next question.
Question: I can only train for 45 minutes in my gym. Is it worth going as I might not get a good session?
Have you ever found yourself procrastinating in the gym?
You know what I mean.
You wonder around the gym looking for something to do. Before you know it, your session has taken 90 minutes.
Most workouts, if executed correctly, will not need any more than 45-50 minutes of actual work time. If you don’t believe me. Do the following and see how you get on.
- Follow points 1-3 set out in the question above.
- Set strict rest periods between exercises. I would recommend 45-90 seconds depending on the complexity of the exercise. The more complex (Squat, deadlift, chin-up) the longer the rest. For less complex exercises (bicep curls, cable movements, lateral raises) take less.
- Put your phone away! There won’t be time for mirror selfies and social media during these sessions. So, do yourself a favour and put the phone away. Focus on the reps, sets, and rest periods. The rest will take care of itself.
- Save any cardio work for another time. The next question may be helpful for your cardio junkies!
Question: I used to do all of my cardio and weights at the gym. What do I prioritise?
Good question. There are a few things to consider here but for me, the answer is simple! .
As we have mentioned already. Your workout time and available gym floor space will be severely restricted. Add to this the impending addition of compulsory masks in all public settings and things may appear a little uncomfortable. Especially when you want to get your heart rate up and sweat.
Think about this.
Where can you lift weights? Your home (if you are lucky enough to have a good set up). Or the gym.
Where can you run, cycling or swim? Anywhere!
You see, embracing the great outdoors for your cardio work will give you all the health benefits without the anxieties of sweating and working hard around others. It also means you can maximise your lifting during gym time.
The result? A more focussed and healthy positive lifestyle for you and those around you.
Get outdoors and make the most of parks, hills, roads and canal paths. I find outdoor cardio far better for the endorphin rush, no matter the weather!
The three steps to a successful gymdependence day.
Plan, Prioritise, explore.
The new fitness normal need not be full of anxiety and dread. Yes, we must follow the guidance given to us by the government to ensure gyms stay open for the long term. And I get it, it’s frustrating. We want to get back to how things were. However, I believe that you can enjoy the most fruitful and positive time of your training life!
Step 1. Understand your goals. Without them, training has less of a meaning. Knowing what you want to achieve and which body parts you want to prioritise will give you a head start when it comes to progress.
Step 2. Be efficient. We waste so much time during sessions on our phones or not knowing what we want to train. Pair your exercises utilising the same pieces of kit and stick to strict rest times. This way you will not get lost in the roundabout of the one-way system and make nothing but progress!
Step 3. Get outdoors for cardio. There’s no better opportunity to socially distance and sweat than you get with outdoor cardio. Your choices are endless. Hit the hills, the roads, rivers, and cycle paths. The high from enjoying your local landscape will become a staple for your new healthy lifestyle.