Returning to the Gym Post-Pandemic
Updated: Aug 20, 2022
Gyms in DC are about to open fully back up. Are you ready?
We had a client email us this week and said she was ready to get back in the gym but was terrified of hurting herself and wasn’t sure where to even start. It can be hard to know what to do, how hard to go, how much to do when you first go back.
You might have already been working out occasionally when you could make it to the gym. Or, maybe you’ve only been doing at home workouts for the past several months or even for the past year. Either way, there are some good things to keep in mind when returning to the gym so you can get the most out of it, to make sure you don’t hurt yourself and so you can make progress as fast as possible.
While this blog is made for people returning to the gym after the pandemic, the tips are great for anyone returning to exercise after taking any time off.
Forget What You Were Doing Before
Whether it was 2 months ago or 12 months ago that you were in the gym, if you haven’t been doing the same amount of exercise, your strength, mobility and endurance isn’t the same as it was before. If you try to lift the same amount of weight or exercise as hard as you were the last time you were in the gym, you’re more likely to give yourself an injury. The best thing you can do is forget where you were before and go into the gym without any expectations. Enjoy your first few weeks back without putting pressure on yourself to perform at a certain level. You can get back to the level you were at before, just give yourself time to get there.
Give Yourself an Extra Day Off
If you haven’t been exercising as hard or as often as you used to, your body also is going to need some extra time to recover. You might have been able to go to the gym 6 days a week before, but you need to give yourself time to get back there. That usually means giving yourself an extra day or two off the first few weeks you’re back to the gym or exercise. A day off doesn’t have to mean complete rest. It can mean walking, stretching, or some other light intensity exercise that doesn’t stress your body the same way as your usual workout. While it might seem that this will slow progress down, it will also let your body adjust and prevent you from having a setback that will take even more time to recover.
Take Your Time
Whether it’s lifting weights or running, we always want to do better. We want to have a PR on your lift, your longest or fastest run, or have the most output on your Peloton. Reaching for a goal is one of the best things you can do to stay motivated and make progress, but remember that it takes time. Try not to increase your workouts too quickly at first. Don’t make big jumps in the weight you’re lifting, the distance or speed you’re running, or how hard you push yourself in class. One of the best ways to get injured is to try to push yourself too hard, too fast. Especially after some time off, it’s important to give your body time to build itself up before you increase. A good rule of thumb is don’t increase your weight, speed, or distance by more than 10% a week when first returning to exercise. It can feel slow at first, but will get you to your goals much faster in the end.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re ready to get back to the gym, having a nagging injury that’s holding you back, or just aren’t sure what the best way is to get back to your workouts, we’re here for you. Our experts have experience helping people of all fitness levels, ages and activities get back to being active.
And one of our experts would be happy to speak to you about your unique situation.