Health and Fitness: Easing your way back into the gym after lockdown

RETURN: Personal trainer Scott Hingston guides Tiana Sargeant through a banded exercise.

RETURN: Personal trainer Scott Hingston guides Tiana Sargeant through a banded exercise.

'Freedom Day' is likely to have many people sprinting back to the gym. The doubly vaccinated members that is.

While some community members will unfortunately need to wait up to several more weeks before they can stage their returns, those who can will be no doubt be keen to make up for lost time.

NSW residents have been in various levels of lockdown since June 26, which means it could have been months since gym goers had their last session.

Many will have continued to stay active over the past couple of months but many won't have. And those who did are likely to have struggled to replicate the intensity of the workouts they would usually do in the gym due to a lack of equipment.

I have maintained a high level of activity during lockdown but have been lifting lighter weights and relied heavily on running for cardiovascular fitness. I am expecting the transition back into the gym to be a bit of a rude shock initially.

While I expect to be a bit like a giddy kid in a lolly shop this week, I know I need to tone it down a little so I don't end up at the physiotherapist after my first session.

Personal trainer Scott Hingston, who operates out of Green Life Gym, said safety and progression were two areas members should focus on as they made their returns to the gym either this week or in coming weeks. That is getting your muscles familiar with exercises again that may not have been possible during the lockdown period.

"Even four weeks off training can have a big impact on the strength of your body," Scott told me. "It's been a lot longer than four weeks.

"My advice would be to focus on muscle contraction rather than movement. So rather than going to do a squat and go as heavy as you can, focus on the muscles you're working first then you can start to put the weight on from there."

He suggested the use of bands and pin-loaded machines at first instead of dumbbell and barbell work to offer more body support.

Scott also recommended setting goals around what you want to get out of the gym.

"You've maybe had a different style of training over the past 10 weeks, so before you charge straight into a program, understand why you're going back - the reason and purpose you're going to the gym," he said. "If you jump straight into a class of high intensity and you haven't done anything for around 10 weeks, then you're probably at more risk of injury and not doing it properly. Sometimes you need to take a step backwards before you go forwards."

He expected there could also be a surge of new people joining the gym - those who may have started exercising during lockdown and are looking for a further challenge.

Those in this position could start by talking to a trainer about why you are there, what you want to get out of it and where to start. Trainers can also help you establish correct exercise technique before you tackle group training.

Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.