Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
THIS week I am inspired by the numerous questions I am being asked on social media regarding the gym, all with the same bottom line, injury.
Before the Lockdown brought by Covid-19 we all had our own fitness routine, be it going to the gym, walking, cycling, competing or playing sport. All that grounded to a halt on March 12. So, the gym users found themselves all of a sudden trying to come up with new and inventive ways of getting their workout in, sports stopped, walks were restricted to 2km from home, alone for the most part or with a single member of your family.
For all of us, it just wasn’t the same. We all turned to workouts online, live workouts on social media, which I myself did provide for people as well and was a participant, Zoom became a huge part of our world, especially for families to communicate and, moreover, for people to work out together.
Also there are the people who maybe never went to the gym, or did a High Intensity Interval workout before in their lives, who maybe shied away from the gym and such classes due to an old injury or nerves, but found themselves with the time and the abundance of choice online, and in the privacy and comfort of their own homes are now exercise bunnies – boredom can make us do all sorts of crazy things.
So now we face into the dream becoming a reality (the gym is back in business) but the nightmare becoming a reality (injury).
So here I shall enter my pearls of wisdom for you whether you’re getting back to your beloved sanctuary of the gym or going to the gym for the first time;
For those who were avid users prior to lockdown, and bear in mind that was four months ago, my advice is to take it easy, pull back on most, if not everything you were doing before, make weight baring exercises lighter and reduce sets to avoid injury, I promise you will be back where you were in no time. Think of how unfit or weak you feel coming back to the gym after a two-week holiday? Now multiply this feeling.
Even if you were exercising at home regularly, it is not the same as using the equipment in the gym so do keep this in mind, use the knowledge and experience of the instructor on duty when you are there, maybe get a new program designed, and most importantly RECOVERY! If you went every day before lockdown, (3-4 days is more than enough) this is null and void now, if you jump back into that you will be fatigued working out and this increases your chance of injury. For best results you need to recover, it is as important as the workout!
For those who became hooked on exercise for the first time even during lockdown and have never bought a gym membership before, I firstly want to commend you for taking that step and joining the gym and overcoming whatever hang up or worry you had before, well done. But you need to be careful not to pick up an injury. You will be moving in new ways than what you did at home, using new machines and equipment you may never have seen before and may be unsure what you’re doing. This is ok, it is normal, that uncertainty can come from even changing a gym as they all have different makes and models of equipment so I encourage you to ask for help before you try out anything, from a movement to a machine, get advice.
When you join, the first thing I want you to do is get your induction and fitness program appointments booked in straight away, within a few days you’ll know how to use most of the machines, and you will have a tailor made program designed by a professional which will be specific to your needs and fitness level. And again, I can’t stress recovery enough, this is the most important thing you need to do to avoid injury, it is simple, stay at home. Let your body recover, and go again. Maybe try working out a day and skipping a day.
And to everyone: STRETCH. You need to stretch the body, the muscles before and after a workout. No this isn’t a myth, it’s fact. To avoid injury and aid recovery and results you need to stretch the body, legs, arms, back, the whole lot, and drink plenty of water before, throughout and after, this is a requirement for the body and its recovery too so give yourself and your body the best chance at this. And from there, enjoy getting back to what you love.