With the on and off closure of gyms over the past year, trying to keep up some kind of consistency with your fitness routine has been no easy feat.
The current UK lockdown has been tough, and although there are plenty of ways to stay active at home, the cold, dark evenings have seen many of us ditch Boxfit for box sets and spin class for the sofa.
When motivation is running low, it’s easy for a rest day to turn into a rest week and before you know it you’ve lost any kind of routine and the thought of even a gentle sweat session seems like a daunting task.
The recent unveiling of the government’s road map out of lockdown has given us some light at the end of what has felt like a long dark tunnel, with gym’s across the UK expected to reopen during April.
But if after a longer than planned break, this date fills you with more dread than joy, there’s still plenty of time to re-emerge from your fitness hibernation and prepare to get back to smashing your goals on the gym floor.
Here are some pointers on how to reintroduce exercise into your daily routine, after taking a long hiatus...
Set your expectations
Unfortunately, regardless of whether you are a runner, weightlifter, or cardio enthusiast, taking time off from exercise means that you’re bound to have taken a few steps back when it comes to progress. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean that you’ll never get back to the same level or surpass it, just that you may start at a lower weight or shorter running time than before your break. This is completely normal.
The good news is that you’ll also regain your strength, stamina and endurance quicker than it took for you to reach that level in the first place!
Patience is key
While it might be tempting to simply try and pick up where you left off, doing too much too soon is likely to result in injury, forcing you to take yet more time out. Your initial goal is just to get moving more, so try to remove any pressure on yourself to make quick gains, ease your body back into a routine and give it time to adjust to the change. Remind yourself that however slow progress is to show, you’re heading in the right direction.
Look out for these signs you’re making progress.
Prepare for some serious DOMS
After some time out from exercise, especially when it comes to strength training, delayed onset muscle soreness or ‘DOMS’ of some degree is largely unavoidable. Some level of soreness is a good sign, as it occurs as a result of your muscles working to repair themselves and thus signifies muscle building. However too much soreness is counterproductive, since you may find yourself skipping a few workouts due to the discomfort.
Here are a few ways to ease DOMS and decrease your recovery time:
- Warm up and cool down- the best preventative measure is to always set time to properly warm up and cool down before any kind of physical activity. You’ll thank yourself later!
- Stretch it out- when DOMS has set in, increasing the blood flow around the body with some light activity will help speed up the repair time.
- Drink up- staying hydrated helps to flush out waste products that are released when muscles break down, which are associated with increased soreness.
- Refuel- make sure your body is getting enough protein, a vital nutrient for muscle recovery (post-workout refuel meal ideas)
- Take a warm bath- warm water will help minimize tension and pain signals and increase circulation.
Set yourself a challenge
Having a goal to work towards could be just the thing you need to motivate yourself to get back at it. We’re launching two new challenges for March to give our members a new focus for the month and introduce a healthy dose of competition to your home training routine.
Our Make Your Move challenge is perfect for if you’re just getting back into fitness with 4 mywellness MOVES targets to aim for. You can stack up MOVES however you get your fitness kicks and aim for a manageable 10,000 MOVES or really push yourself with the 50,000 target.
Find out more here.
If you’re keen to up your running game after a winter break, join our Strava running challenge and take part in a series of 4 runs of increasing distance to tackle over the month.
Join us on Strava.
Enlist some help
When we’re finally able to welcome you back into club, our team of expert Personal Trainers will be on hand to help regain your confidence on the gym floor. Over the past few months we’ve provided them with additional training to equip them with the knowledge to provide extra support to our members whether you’re recovering from illness or injury or just need some extra guidance. With their help you’ll create a personal fitness plan based on your lifestyle, medical history and unique goals, that will get you back into the swing of things, no matter how long your fitness break may have been!
Find out more about Personal Training.
Get a friend on board
If finding the motivation to get moving is your biggest challenge, getting a friend on board your fitness journey could be just the thing you need.
The current lockdown rules allow you to meet outdoors with another person for exercise, so as the weather gets milder why not use this opportunity to take to the park with your buddy and get your sweat on together.
Having another person to hold you accountable means you’re more likely to stick to a routine and the social aspect of fitness with friends will give you a bigger boost to your mental wellbeing!
Exercise and COVID
For many people who have contracted COVID 19, the symptoms of the virus forced them to take a break from their usual fitness routine, which they may have found difficult to return to. For advice on reintroducing exercise after contracting COVID, we spoke to exercise and nutrition scientist Dr. Colin Robertson. Look out for Dr. Col’s health and wellbeing advice series on the Village Gym app. Here’s a look at what to expect…
So no matter how long your break from exercise has been, there’s no time like the present to dust off your gym kit and start reintroducing healthy habits.
With loads of live and On Demand classes available to stream from home via our app, there’s no need to put things off until you’re back on the gym floor. If you gradually work on rebuilding your fitness from home, following these simple steps, when April comes around you’ll be raring to go.
We can’t wait to welcome you back!
Not part of the Village Gym fitness community? Find your nearest club and check out our great joining offers!