Gyms are open and indoor group training resumes on May 17, meaning we can finally mix up our fitness routines with some IRL workouts.
If you, like us, are feeling slightly apprehensive at the thought of a full 60 minutes of burpees and lunges - the gymtimidation is real right now - we asked some of London’s top trainers for their top tips for easing yourself back in and getting the most out of your next sessions.
Take these steps to smash those gains and reap the rewards.
Write a plan
Winging it won’t get you the results you crave, says Sarah Lindsay (@roarfitnessgirl), founder of Roar Fitness and personal trainer to the likes of Vogue Williams, Henry Holland and Pixie Lott. “Set a goal, plan how you’re going to get there and execute your plan consistently until you achieve your goal. No gimmicks - consistency is where most people fail,” she says.
Maria Eleftheriou (@maria_eleftheriou_ldn), head of Barre at Psycle, suggests you combine this with a nutrition plan to aid your post-workout recovery and put it up on the fridge so it’s easy to follow. “Getting the right nutritional balance after exercise restores energy levels and reduces fatigue, helping the body to repair muscles and build strength for future workouts,” she adds. “Try two new recipes every week to build variety into your food. Proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats are all essential for the body’s recovery.”
Kick off with an endorphin-boosting workout...
When May 17 finally rolls round, treat yourself and book your favourite fitness class in town. “Going back to the gym should be exciting and fun, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to still be able to achieve what we could months before,” says Eleftheriou. “Your body and stamina may feel different, so make sure you enjoy your favourite session without self-judgement and do it for the endorphins and to regain confidence back in your favourite space.”
...But take it easy
Easing yourself in is key, adds Haydn Elliott, head trainer and co-owner of F45 Oxford Circus and F45 Soho: “Remember that everyone has spent the past year in and out of lockdowns, so we would advise initially holding off from giving your workouts the full 100 per cent, particularly in the first week, as your body is going to really feel it.”
Sam Gregory, head trainer at F45 Stratford, echoes this: “We are advising members not to expect too much, especially for those who haven’t done any training during lockdown. Don’t try to lift the same weights you were lifting beforehand, especially if you haven’t done any training over the lockdown. Go back to basics, making sure you warm up properly and fully, so that you are strong and ready to lift, jump and squat. “
Getting enough sleep is crucial too. “When returning to more intense training structures, you must also focus on getting good quality sleep, at least 7-9 hours,” Elliott adds. “Your body is going to really feel the effects of this increased intensity, so you need to give yourself time to recover. As well as sleep, you must ensure that you are properly hydrating with several litres of water throughout the day and nourishing your body with an adequate protein intake.”
Focus on form
Focusing on your form is crucial when returning to training, says personal trainer Toby Huntingdon-Whiteley, who has just launched his own supplement brand HW.labs. “This could be the first time you’re doing certain exercises for months, so make sure your technique is correct. Most exercises need a neutral spine, so make sure you engage your core, pull your shoulders blades down your back and ensure you’re breathing right - one breath per rep is a good place to start.
“If you’ve been WFH, unable to move as much as before, you’ve probably lost some mobility. Start with a dynamic warm-up that focuses on your shoulders, upper back, hips and ankles.”
“Finally, lift lighter, but at higher reps, this will still challenge your muscles but is less exhausting for your nervous system. If you can’t complete 15 reps, lighten the weight,” he advises.
Practice in front of a mirror
Practising your technique in front of a mirror can help with your form, Roar Fitness founder Lindsay adds. “Check your movements at home in front of a mirror. Get a video of the exercise you’re trying to learn, and check your form against the video in front of the mirror. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have weights at home just practice the movements and build confidence in your form in the comfort of your own home,” she says.
Enjoy your new-found freedom
While it’s great to be back working out together again, personal trainer Mark Ireland says it’s important to strike a balance between training hard and enjoying your new-found freedom.
In his 12-week transformation programmes he recommends clients follow a training plan with a mix of structured weight training and conditioning sessions. “My splits in phase one for clients are generally two full-body weights sessions and then either one upper body or legs workout and one conditioning session.”
He adds: “We’ve just come through a brutal period, so definitely go out and enjoy the weekend, however that may be. Just keep an eye on the diet and training too, before summer really kicks in, in a few months.”