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Safely Returning To The Gym

story By Brian Tully, MS

We are moving into a new phase of the NC re-open plan, and this phase includes the re-opening of gyms. The gyms have been closed approximately six months now. Many of you have found alternate forms of exercise in lieu of your typical gym activities — everything from swimming, walking/running, biking, and home workouts, to virtual workouts. And there is no reason for you to stop these activities now that the gyms are open; they are a great compliment to your gym workouts.

With the gyms being closed for six months, the crowds may resemble what you would see during the first few weeks after New Year’s, so I urge you to consider the following tips to help you return to the gym safely.

Start Back Slow

Don’t expect to jump right back in to your old routine, especially if you have been truly off for the last six months. Start off slowly and gradually build back up. No need to rush back in, get injured, and miss another few weeks of gym time.

Wear a Mask

Keep your intensity low enough that you can tolerate wearing a mask. This may also be a good way to measure a gradual reintroduction to your gym activity. If you can breathe well enough with the mask on, your intensity level is moderate enough to let you get re-acclimated after your extended break. Plus, with the anticipated crowds of anxious exercisers huffing and puffing…a mask is probably a good idea to make sure you don’t leave the gym with something more than a little sweat.

Wipe Down the Equipment

Most gyms have sanitizing wipes available for equipment to be wiped down after use. This is proper protocol for leaving the machine in good condition for the next user. I would recommend taking it a step further and ensure yourself a fresh start by wiping it down before you use it too. Take a look at the piece of equipment and think about all the places you will touch or have your face near, wipe all those spots before and after you use it.

Hand Sanitize Frequently

I can guarantee that most all of us touch our face more times than we even know during a workout: wiping away the sweat and tears, adjusting your mask, moving your mask for a drink, rubbing at an itch, etc. Limit passing the germs from your hands to your face by disinfecting your hands often, especially after touching a community touch point like the handles on a machine or free weight.

Bring A Water Bottle

Many gyms probably won’t even have the water fountain working. But in any case, I recommend using your own personal water bottle. Using a water fountain can be a little too intimate during a pandemic. Also, try to choose a water bottle that doesn’t require you to constantly manhandle the drinking spout to take a drink. If you can’t manage to find one of those, remember to hand sanitize prior to opening it for a drink.

Keep Your Immunity Strong

Whether you are joining the crowds in the gym or not, now is an important time to keep your immunity strong. Exercise is an important part, but you should also incorporate balanced nutrition (including protein, fruits, and vegetables), proper hydration, quality sleep, and mental destress time. Build up all your defenses — your body is at war with the world around us.

You may or may not want to hold off a bit until the crowds thin out, the same way you might at the beginning of the new year. In the meantime, you could continue with the other activities you have adopted, or find a small private training studio that has less traffic, custom training programs, and thorough disinfecting between each client. I just happen to know of a studio exactly like that. Hint: Check out the link at the end of the article.

At any rate, remember the real purpose of a good workout program, whether in the gym, at a studio, or outside, is to help you feel better and enjoy life to the fullest. I hope you use my tips to help you in the gym and beyond. If you have any questions or other thoughts to share, I would love to hear from you!


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