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  • Daniel Rockman

The Do's and Don't's of returning to Gym

We did it Melbourne!


After months of an excruciating and mentally taxing lockdown, the cases are down to doughnuts. This means gyms are opening up again but best of all, I can go to these gyms and not feel incredibly concerned about passing the virus onto the 2 healthcare workers I live with. Thank you and thank goodness I'm not in America right now.


With the return of the gyms comes the return of my gym advice. Rejoice!


The Do's and Don'ts of returning to gym


Today, we follow the story of two friends to help us learn what we should and shouldn't do upon returning to gym. Meet Danny Doo and Donny Don't, two average Melbournians returning to gym after almost 6 months. Danny Doo and Donny Don't have both been itching to get back into the gym, so let's have a look at how they do it.


Do gradually ease yourself back in.

Don't start off with the weights you used to do.


Danny and Donny have both been training intermittently during the lockdown although not to the same extent as if they were in the gym. Donny jumps straight back into the program he was doing before lockdown. He was up to a personal record day and attempts to lift the heaviest he's ever lifted before, despite not touching anything near that weight for months. Donny hurts his back.


Danny understands that his strength may not be the same as when he left due to his altered training. Danny decides to take it easy for the first two weeks, listening to his body to determine how much to lift, as well as checking his form on movements he hasn't done in months. Danny bounces back to his previous strength in a shorter time than it took him to get there the first time.


Chances are, you might have lost a little bit of strength without the gym. Acknowledge this and don't dive back into the weights you did before the lockdown - your body may not be able to handle that load anymore! Build things from the ground up, slowly. The good news is you will be able to attain your previous levels in only a few weeks depending on how hard you trained throughout the lockdown (see below).


The green line is what happens to our fitness after we resume training again. Keep in mind this is a rough graph of how you can expect your fitness levels to return. If you were still working out as often as you were before, you might not be far off the top. If you have absolutely not touched a weight in 6 months you may be starting near the purple line at the bottom.

Do obey instructions for a COVIDsafe return.

Don't leave things for other people to clean up.


Danny reads the information provided to him by his gym. He sanitises his hands before and after working out, cleans his equipment, wears a facemask when appropriate, keeps to social distancing and wipes down any surfaces he touched - as per the gym guidelines. It takes a little bit longer than usual and is a little bit awkward, but Danny understands that this is a very small price to pay for the benefit. The world can resume as normal.


Donny doesn't think he needs to read the information sent to him by his gym since he has watched the 60 Minutes special on the virus. He accidentally breaks the social distancing rules, potentially endangering and definitely angering the other gym-goers. After watching someone else do the same, he deliberately leaves out his uncleaned equipment and doesn't wipe down his benches. The virus most likely won't spread in this gym... but other gym-goers who need the exercise are put off, gyms lose credibility as a COVIDsafe business and the gym floor manager has to take time out of his day to clean up after Donny.


Donny doesn't seem to notice.


Keeping the gym COVIDsafe affects more than just you. It doesn't matter if you think you'll be fine to get the virus or if you still believe the absurdly ridiculous notion at this point that the virus doesn't exist, you should still be cleaning up after yourselves and making the gym a safe, comfortable environment for others. You will be surprised at how much keeping your distance and wiping down your equipment can create an ideal workout environment for those around you. Pay attention to it, no slacking!


Do incorporate your favourite features of home training.

Don't replicate your home workouts with super heavy weights.


Danny loved the fitness app he used on his phone during lockdown and wishes to still use it. When he can't make it into gym, Danny uses the fitness app for a quick bodyweight workout at the end of his his day because he enjoys the fast pace and functional basis of the program. He also found out he enjoys doing handstands, and alters his new gym program to strengthen his shoulders.


Danny enjoys his workouts with a newfound passion. He has grown from his experiences in lockdown.


Donny had a program over lockdown which utilises high volume, plyometric workouts to provide a stimulus effect in lieu of using weights. Donny also likes objects that are very heavy because it feeds his ego, so Donny decides to do the workout with 20kgs in each hand. Donny realises too late that there is a pain in his knee and that he is nowhere near strong enough to perform plyometric moves like alternating jump lunges with 20kgs.


Donny is in pain and struggles to stay fit because of it.


We've all had to discover new ways of working out through this lockdown. I know I've found some awesome exercises that I plan to keep using long after gyms reopen, but I've also found some exercises that are going to be dropped the moment some safer and more effective gym equipment is available. If you found something new that you enjoyed doing, don't leave it behind just because things open up! But be conscious about what fits in with your gym workouts now that you're starting again.


At the end of the day, Danny and Donny were both able to return to the gym, however, Danny Doo will find staying fit a breeze while Donny Don't has not only made things harder for everyone around him, but also himself. By slowly building up from our new normal, following the guidelines and taking only the best ideas from at-home workouts, we can all make going to the gym a better experience.


Danny will have made the world a slightly, almost imperceivably better place.



Meanwhile Donny has bothered everyone and will probably make an angry rant on social media citing several conspiracy theories copied straight from Donald Trump. He's a bit of a can't.



Be like Danny Doo.

Don't be another Donny Don't.




See you all when the gyms reopen tomorrow!

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