Back to the gym we go

For the first time in 2021, gyms and fitness studios across the country open their doors to the public this coming week. Some of us may have found our health and fitness habits have improved or deteriorated over the last few months.

We’ve either gone full throttle with the online training or totally lost our mojo. Either way, this landmark occasion offers some normality and structure back to our training. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of looking after our physical and mental health.

For some of us a return to training will present some challenges, so this week I want to give you some tips to easily navigate your return to the gym:

(1 ) Whether we like it or not, social distancing will be around for a bit longer. You’ll most likely find that you'll be required to book in for your training session in advance and equipment will be laid out differently. Remember the normal routine of cleaning and sanitising your equipment after use.

(2 ) Make sure to warm up the muscles you will be using before you start your session. This will help prevent injuries by lubricating your joints and improving blood flow to your muscles.

(3 ) If you haven’t been regularly training in the last few months, use the first few sessions back to remember proper technique before adding significant resistance to the movement. You will have to build your strength back up gradually. Don’t push yourself too far, too soon and risk injuries that might prevent you from training for a period of time. Your fitness level may not be the same as before lockdown. Listen to your body and rest where needed.

(4 ) Before starting back training, plan your workouts to make sure you maximize your time. You might not be as strong as you were before, so lowering your weights or reps may be a good approach. Start off at about 50% of what you were doing pre-lockdown and stick to that for a session or two. Gradually increase this based on how you feel afterwards and how quickly you recover. It can be tempting to jump straight back into your old routine but this could increase your risk of injury. Be patient and give yourself 4-6 weeks to work back to where you were.

(5 ) Give yourself time to recover. We’ve all missed the gym but training seven days a week might be overkill. Sleep also aids recovery and your body will need it if you have taken it easy the past few months.

(6 ) Make sure to have fun! Even if your workout isn’t the best workout known to man, don't sweat it. Enjoy the process and enjoy being back in a routine. Sometimes the act alone is better than doing nothing in those early days. Also, try to avoid comparing yourself to others. We’re all starting out again and some may acclimatise faster than others – that’s okay. It’s you versus you on this journey.

Micheál Penston is the Head Coach at FM Fitness & Nutrition based in Westport, Co Mayo. They specialise in helping busy men and women to create the healthiest versions of themselves through educating and empowering around all areas of their lifestyle from fitness, nutrition, recovery and behaviours.

You can grab a FREE copy of the 5 Stage Health & Fitness Kickstarter or find out more about their online and in person coaching methods at or social media handles @fmfitnessnutrition


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