Getting back to the gym is test of mettle

Rack of gym weightsFor many of us, activities that we used to do without much thought, now sit outside our comfort zones. In my case heading back to the gym is an obstacle I wanted to get over.

After a year of recumbent biking in the garden and maintaining running fitness, I just wanted something different. A change of scenery. Overall, I burn more calories out running but lose a little in strength away from the gym.

It’s also important for mental health in the long-term. Aside from a few supermarket dashes this was my first ‘staying put’ spell in an enclosed space.

I’ve not been in an enclosed area with so many other human beings for ages. Even longer since I’ve seen so many Gymshark wearers.

Some of this has its plus points admittedly. But in general, returning forms part of a very gradual easing back into some sort of everyday life.

Is it safe to go back to the gym?

Making a gym return after an absence of over a year has its trepidations. It certainly played on my mind. But much of this is due to uncertainty over ‘the unknown’. If you don’t go, you’ll never know.

As part of Step 2 on the roadmap, government advice for England allowed gyms to reopen on April 12. Scotland and Wales are scheduled to follow suit in coming weeks.

Being a Gym Group member, there is a feature on its app where you can check how busy your gym is. On arrival it was around 60% capacity. It reached 74% while I was in there. So it’s probably not great to constantly check it and see data about the space lessening around you!

To prepare the mindset, I wrote down three words to describe my thoughts before I went in. Apprehensive, Primed, Uncertain.

But I forced myself nonetheless.

The nitty-gritty

Once in, like the ‘good old days‘, I first headed for a cross trainer. Every other cross trainer is out of commission. This is good news as it means there’s no-one working out either side of you.

After a tense 10 minutes, I moved onto various strength machines. I spent around five minutes on each before ending with a short cycle ride.

The 40-min session was enough to get some slight aches going, my body reawakening itself to what used to be a normal feeling.

To describe the experience, I chose to write down three more words when I got back to the car, post-gym. Difficult, Awkward, Uneasy.

As you can see, there isn’t probably a lot of progression! I found it difficult at times to focus on the reason I was there – the workout.

One awkward moment came when a lady went to wipe down the equipment I’d just used. Confusion arose because I would wipe down AFTER I’d been on it, while she wipes down BEFORE using it. I guess two people vying for cleaning duties can only be a good thing!

On reflection, I used five different pieces of fitness equipment. And I was sanitising the s*** out of those machines afterwards. I felt part gym-goer, part health & safety officer.

Overall view

Good points – plenty of people wiping down; it’s everyone’s responsibility. It makes users slow down a bit and perhaps consider others more.

Not so good points – as in general everyday life, you get the odd person or couple who just stand chatting nearby where you’re stationed. The two-metre social distancing rule is fine, but if there is not the staff to absolutely enforce things, that’s when tensions can appear.

In terms of my particular gym, it is not a big enough building to accommodate too many people queueing for the drinks station or going through their lockers in the same area.

Here, what would be useful is a real leader. Someone you can instantly see is ‘in charge’ and welcoming on arrival. Public confidence would be improved that’s for sure.

Generally, I still felt uneasy. But over time this might improve bit by bit. Whether I’ll go again soon is to be decided, but at least it’s a step.

Main image by Pexels from Pixabay

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