Between stay-at-home orders knocking us out of our routines and at-home workout equipment being in scarce supply, many of us haven’t been able to keep up with – or even start – an effective fitness regimen.
Luckily, Ally McKinney and Mitchell Fischer are here to help. These Gold’s Gym certified personal trainers both have degrees in kinesiology and have each been working in the industry as coaches, trainers or fitness managers for about eight years. They understand the human body and what it requires to reach fitness goals safely and efficiently.
If you’re getting back into the gym after a break – or simply want to make it part of your routine for the first time – these six tips will help you conquer your workouts and safely start crushing your goals.
1. Spend extra time warming up and cooling down
The importance of taking time to properly warm your body up before an intense workout and cool it down afterward is always critical, but even more so when you’re getting back into the gym. Properly warming up gets blood and oxygen flowing to the joints, muscles and ligaments you’ll be using the most during your workout. This is essential for getting the most out of your workout and preventing injury.
Focus on warming up the body parts you’ll be using most, Mitchell says.
“You should start with a lighter versionof what you’re going to be doing for your workout,” Mitchell says. For example, if you’re going to be on the squat rack, you should warm up with air squats using just your bodyweight.
Mitchell says his go-to warmup also includes some kind of rotational movement at every joint, no matter what part of your body you’re working that day. “That’s a good way to put synovial fluid in your joints with rotation and movement, and then you’ll be prepped with more mobility,” he says. The synovial fluid reduces friction and helps fluidity.
Cooling down after each workout with some light stretching or yoga will also help your breathing and heart rate return to normal while mitigating some soreness and potential for injury.
2. Go easy on yourself (both physically and mentally)
Your body may feel like it’s been in hibernation mode when you’re first getting back into the gym. While that’s totally normal, you should keep this in mind when deciding on the duration and intensity of your workouts. It may take a few steady weeks to build your strength and endurance back up to where they were.
Ally says, “I’ve been trying to encourage people to remember where you started. Did you just jump in and overdo it on your first day at the gym? No, you didn’t. You have to ease back in, because you’re giving your body stresses that it’s not used to anymore.”
In fitness, it’s important to listen to your body and respect what it needs in the moment. Did you have a go-to routine before taking a break from the gym? Ease back into it by doing fewer reps. Try doing your exercises a bit slower than you would have prior to the break, and maybe shave 15 or 30 minutes off the duration of your workout the first few times back.
“Now is the time to be cautious about overtraining and focus on rest and recovery,” Mitchell says. “Really invest in how much rest is built into your program, especially when you’re returning or starting, because that rest and recovery time is going to be when the gains are made.”
And if you feel discouraged your first week back in the gym, that’s OK. Remember that fitness is a marathon – not a sprint. Taking things slow and steady will help you safely rebuild strength and endurance while avoiding potential injuries that would only set you back further.
3. Do the right moves
Ally and Mitchell say bodyweight exercises are safer than weighted exercises when you’re getting back into the gym or starting a workout routine.
“Stay away from isolated exercises at the beginning,” Mitchell says. “Everybody wants to do bicep curls and shoulder raises and all that stuff where you’re doing one joint at a time, but I recommend doing compound movements – for example, squats instead of leg extensions – to start.”
When you do add weight, you should also start with higher reps at a lower weight, then build up from there. “We want to condition those tendons and avoid straining ligaments,” Ally says.
4. Take advantage of technology
Gold’s Gym is expanding into the digital realm to meet people where they are. You can use digital coachingapps like GOLD’S AMP when getting back into the gym or working out from home, with or without equipment.
“You can listen to one of our certified personal trainers take you through a workout without actually having the trainer there,” says Ally, who is also a personal trainer on the GOLD’S AMP™ app.
Live-streaming classes are also becoming more available for those who can’t make it to the gym.
“We have our Stronger Anywhere platform – from all over the world, our clubs are sending in videos,” Ally says. “You can follow along with the workout, whether it’s a Gold’s Fit workout, HIIT training, core training, Fit After 50 – there’s a category for everyone.”
5. Wipe it down
Keeping our gyms clean was a priority before the pandemic. Working out after coronavirus, it’s more important than ever.
“Cleaning is everything now,” Ally says. “We’re doing everything we can to keep our gyms clean. We’re constantly walking around and wiping down equipment.”
Still, proper gym etiquette includes wiping down equipment after you use it. “We’re making regular announcements to help others be extremely mindful,” Ally says.
Mitchell adds, “Don’t be afraid to ask us a question about what to do or what we’re doing to keep you safe. We want everyone to be informed and feel comfortable.”
6. Talk to the experts
Now may be one of the best times for you to consider working with a trainer. Dedicated professionals like Ally and Mitchell–who know the ins and outs of fitness and navigating equipment – can help you get on track safely and efficiently. Just like some car batteries may need a jump-start after sitting idle for weeks or months, your body and psyche may benefit from the boost a trainer can offer as you’re getting back into the gym.
Even if you don’t work with a trainer, know that the teammates in our gyms are there to answer any questions you have, show you how to use the equipment and help you reach your goals. “We’re here to help you,” Ally says. “We want to answer your questions and we want you to feel equipped.”
We hope these tips have you feeling ready to return to the gym. We look forward to seeing you there!
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