Gym Plus Drogheda member Laura describes her first experience back in Gym Plus after a 3-month break.
Stepping back into Gym Plus, workout gear on, sweat towel underarm and water bottle in hand- feels exciting. After a 3 month hiatus, this is both the little slice of normality and pure escapism I desperately need. I found it hard to motivate myself to work out at home during the lockdown. Similar to what others have experienced, it was a struggle to balance the demands of family, work and homeschooling as well as fitting in a home workout.
And the inactivity has taken its toll on both my physical and mental health. The most obvious change I noticed was a dip in my mood, as well as a lack of focus. Something I need to fix now to help improve my productivity and make the Zoom calls more efficient.
For these reasons, I feel now is the right time to start exercising again and that doing so under new safety guidelines at the gym was the best option for me. So what’s different and how does it all work? Here’s my experience as a Gym Plus member during my first visit back……
Having already booked my gym session in advance using the FitSense app, preparing to go to the gym was actually easier than my pre-COVID routine. Water bottle, sweat towel and travel-sized hand sanitizer is all I essentially needed. I also brought my Bluetooth earbuds and phone.
I have always preferred to work out in the mornings because I tend to be more active throughout the day as a result. You can book a gym, swim session or a fitness class up to 48 hours in advance via the app.
Arriving at the club
Upon arrival at the club, the door is wide open and I spot the new floor markings to allow members to queue safely at a distance while waiting to check-in. The friendly smile and ‘welcome back’ from the receptionist behind the perspex glass is the reassurance I need on this first visit.
Checking in is really quick, the only difference being you give your name at the desk before scanning your check-in barcode on the FitSense app. And then it’s straight over to the sanitation station to sanitise my hands and up the stairs to the gym floor in minutes.
With fewer people booked into each session, the club is certainly quieter than I remembered. But I immediately feel the energy as I step onto the gym floor. Something that has always helped to motivate me to work out is the fun, lively atmosphere in the club and nothing has changed on this front.
While some machines are “sleeping” so that people can exercise safely farther apart, all of the equipment is available to use however they do ask that you bring and use your own exercise mat if possible. Sanitation stations are visible everywhere, as well as disinfectant spray and blue disposable roll.
Before COVID-19, I might have spent more time wandering around the floor however I was conscious of my time and minimising the risk, so I had my workout plan in my head. I grab a bottle of spray and some roll and head straight to the treadmill to wipe down before use.
Finally, I’m on the treadmill and it feels amazing! While others might find the treadmill boring, it is probably my favourite part of the gym. Running allows me to zone out and give my brain a rest, something I very much needed. I can literally feel all my tension melting as my heart rate increases.
Then I move on to the bike for 10 minutes of cycling, followed by 5 minutes on the rowing machine. The extra cleaning measures required when moving from one machine to the next are easy and quickly become routine.
Next, I move over to the strength machines, taking it easy on the lightest weight settings for this first visit back. I stick to my favourite machines, the chest press, the leg press and the leg curl. Then I do some light stretching to finish off.
Once the hour session is up, I pop on some more hand gel and head straight out the door to shower at home. After working out, I notice an almost immediate difference in my mood and energy levels. And the next day, I notice it in my quality of sleep.
Next on my list is to try a fitness class and then a swim session then after. But it feels so good to be back and my sore muscles today are a reminder of how I need to keep it up!
My tips for returning to the gym
- I would recommend starting with short sessions when you first return to the gym, giving yourself time to become re-acquainted with the environment and reduce your risk of injury. Even thirty minutes on the lightest settings, doing fewer reps per set.
- Make sure to warm-up for 5-10 minutes before you start your run or lift weights. Brisk walking, light lunges or squats will do the trick.
- Have a quick checklist of items you need to bring with you on your phone. Don’t forget your sweat towel as you won’t be allowed to work out without one. And make sure you have enough water to last the entire hour session.
- Have your workout plan in mind but prepare to be flexible as some equipment or machines might not be available when you first arrive.
- If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask staff. They will help you as best they can from a safe distance.
- Make sure to wipe down the equipment and machines before and after use, even if you see that someone has done it before you, it’s better to be extra safe.
- And most importantly, have fun! While it’s obviously important to be vigilant and cautious, make sure you enjoy your time while there!