As many economies and businesses begin to reopen, many of us may be excited to finally get back into the gym and shed those quarantine pounds [those Angie’s BoomChickaPop kettle corn bags were DANGEROUS 😩]! Similar to the re-opening strategies various cities are implementing, we must have a strategy for getting back into our fitness routine. This will help us prevent exhaustion and injury, while maintaining longevity. That means we will not give up after a week of training. Here are four tips to help you get back into the swing of things. These principles can also be applied by newcomers, who may use this as an opportunity to take the first steps of their fitness journey:
1. Manage your expectations
2. Ease into it
3. Start small, build up
4. Be patient
Pragmatic. It may have been over four months since you last sacrificed some sweat to the gods of swole in the temple of iron. You should not be surprised if those personal best you previously put up seem like a distant dream. At the same time, do not sell yourself short underestimating the strength you retained. Especially if you kept up with home workouts. The key is to be sensible with your expectations and adjust them based on your performance. The first day will not be the best, and you will feel sore. The first few sessions should be a time to warm up your muscles and see what you are working with, not a time to be discouraged by your fitness state. You also have the mental battle against an "instant success" mindset. There will be all those diets and programs that promise extraordinary results in minimal time. FRAUD ALERT! Do not waste your money. Expect a reasonable rate of progress and only change that based on what you see yourself accomplish.
Easy there, tiger. Fresh off a long rest, you may be tempted to push yourself to the maximum in an attempt to make the most gains as quickly as possible. STOP. Your body is used to less intense, maybe also less frequent, home workout routines or even a total lack of exercise. Therefore, the slightest change in that will be a huge shock. Even a light day in the gym could leave you feeling exhausted. To protect against injury and prevent burn out, begin slow, with low weight if necessary. Shock your body and allow it to recover.
Small. The saying “less is more” holds a lot of weight in our current situation (no pun intended). The most important goal when you go back to the gym will be to stay injury free, especially as you shock your body. Start with lighter weights to help you body adjust. Even if you feel you can do way more on the first day, pace yourself and allow the weight increase to be gradual. Your body will thank you. As an added benefit, you will also get the confidence boost of completing these first few workouts without being absolutely obliterated!
Don't Rush Challenge. It may be an eagerness to achieve or a drive to conquer. Whatever the reason, you will hear that voice, that whisper in your ear, trying to convince you that success is overnight. This ties back to the first tip about the management of expectations. To properly manage your expectations involves patience. The simple truth is, results take time. It may be six weeks for some and six months for others. Results depend on various factors such as consistency, current lifestyle, magnitude of the goal and so on. Fitness is a life-long commitment to staying healthy. We need to develop the mindset that we will be making healthy choices nonstop, for the rest of our lives. When you have made this commitment, you will be able to focus more on the journey rather than the destination and actually enjoy yourself.
Fitness centres opening up should be a source of stress relief for us, an opportunity to reconnect with our communities through the gift of exercise. Let us not complicate that by falling into those common traps of unreasonable expectations and impatience. Apply these principles with a positive mindset and your transition back to the gym will be easy, breezy!
Thank you for reading! Until next time Agu Fam!