Return to fitness again after Lockdown
It was important getting back to being fit again. Welcome to my new series. You will find 12 articles covering my return to fitness during August.
It seemed a long time coming. I knew that my own centre, as with many others, wanted to prove how they could operate safely.
‘One of the pluses of getting older is you set some limits,’ Nicolas Cage (actor)
This article is a record of my experience during the month of August and amounted to 12 articles on different aspects of the gym and what it had to offer. I will take you through some of the machines I use and how I find them beneficial for my own past injuries. This is not a how to do it as I would leave this to the staff. Having used gyms for over 30 years on and off they all vary and we ideally want to aim for specific goals. Mine was returning to being as fit again as I had been before Lockdown.
The medical science health writer
It was 29th July 2020. The all clear had been given 4 days ago. Getting back to being fit was slower than I had hoped. My wife and I had the benefit of walks but I missed my fitness centre. So ‘gyms’ were now open and all I had to do was book an appointment. My first attempts threw up some problems. The vagaries of the internet were never far away and required an App on my Smart phone.
Getting back was as psychologically important as having that first hair trim. It felt good to climb the steps of the entrance that Wednesday morning. But, what could I expect? The staff are a delight and always helpful. They appeared equally pleased to see us all return.
As a health journalist and educationalist I am keen to bring in relevant medicine and discuss the mechanisms of how we work There is plenty of information and resources out there. The importance of distilling the essential information without any salesmanship is my aim. I am going to being concentrating on the not so body beautiful, the not so young or glamorous, I am talking about me, my age group so this is about getting back to fitness with a sense of practicality. Lets look at how the body needs to work… of course you need to ask yourself am I fit to use the gym? You can download my link to check what sort of questions you need to ask.
As I move from session to session I will look at a theme. Much discussed covers general health but I will look at feet along the way.
While the articles have been written contemporaneously, they are linked and so you can move to the next one. It’s a fitness centre not a gym No.2
At 74Kg I was up a bit on the weighty side, but walking regularly had helped during the last months. The BMI value, so often used, was around 25-26 and a fat assessment of 15.5%.
Before Covid and Lockdown I had fitted into a theatre costume. The play long abandoned was now put aside indefinitely. Getting back to the gym and aiming for my pre Covid weight (69kg) was important for this 64 year old. The weight gain was expected. I sit a lot and write for a living so picking at food is a magnet. I will be honest, doing exercises at home was not my thing, I needed a system and an environment to set me up. Okay the weight gain wasn’t massive but the waist line was a bit tighter when I pulled the trousers on so they don’t fit as well. It is a balance between energy in and energy used. So what of the experience? Let me take your through the first 4 weeks.
What could I expect?
Being greeted by Helena, one of the regular staff, was wonderful. There were only 2/16 booked for this my first 45 minute ‘regular’ session. I don’t tend to do classes at present as it is all about time, tasks and deadlines. Pre-Covid I did the bare minimum and did not optimise all of the equipment.
I knew having low attendance numbers would soon change very quickly, but it was a delight to have only two other participants on this morning. There were no youngsters in sight. Helena asked, ‘have you been back David since we shut down after Covid?’ I said no and she did a quick run through the policy. Rub down the kit before and after use. Grab a bottle of cleaning agent and don’t use any piece of equipment for more than 10 minutes. All very reasonable. And so I set off trying to follow my usual programme.
The cleaning kit available
I pulled off a string of paper to carry around for wiping down and drying off handles, seats and adjustment stops. There were more waste bins around than usual which was good keeping movement to a minimum. I was pleased to have brought a flask of water as the dispenser was out of bounds. This did change though which made life easier. Yellow arrows guided the direction of travel.
One entrance and one exit kept the flow in the right direction and maintaining minimum contact. This was as it was in most shops.
Equipment was socially spaced with arrows to show which pieces of apparatus were available. Some of the equipment was socially positioned and out of bounds. This immediately halved the amount of equipment. The only problem was the step walkers. The standard pedal type cross-trainer predominated while the twisty types, which I preferred, were out of bounds. I think they forgot to vary them! Still I mentioned it to Helena to see if a little furniture moving was possible. This produced some interesting discussion which led me to talk to Barney, but that comes later.
So let’s talk fitness centres. What are they about? These are not gyms of course but serious contributions to health care.
Three key aims of a fitness centre
My gym pretty well caters for most activities. The key for any community gym is fitness promotion. This comes into the categories of weight loss, cardio well being and muscle-skeletal strengthening. There is a net gain in that health is promoted by increasing our immune responses. Additionally the contribution to our psychological well-being is important. People who benefit most are sedentary workers. My wife has always been keyed into counting your steps.
There is no substitute for the benefits of pushing up your blood pressure, creating a bit of sweat, pumping the muscles to help blood flow and of course increasing lung output. This was a mantra I was taught at college by our medical lecturer.
I’m a retired podiatrist and have practiced foot surgery for over thirty years so I know a fair bit about body physiology and medicine. Plus, I took an additional degree in human movement and taught human biomechanics. As we age, and I know I am no spring chicken now, we need to take care of those past injuries.
Living life is a battle ground and injuries sustained when we are young live on. Just like a virus gone to ground, injury just waits to flare up. That means as we age and return to exercise to keep fit we develop old problems anew.
Focusing on my injuries
In this series I am going to talk about my injuries. The reader should be aware the equipment I select will cater for my own problems. Anyway, I am booked for another session as I like to aim for 2-3 sessions a week. You will see that these in fact increased and I found that old trait obsessiveness creeping up in me.
My centre has an eclectic range of people from a wide range of ages, shapes and medical problems. If you are beautiful, thin wear fantastic gym clothing, leave this site now. Please leave it for us oldies! My own definition of old:
Old is when you realise your body is no longer as pliable as it once was despite your mind thinking it is 20 years younger
You can follow my posts here on my site https://www.consultingfootpain.co.uk. or sign-up to keep in touch. My next visit is 31st so read my second article ‘It’s a fitness centre not a gym‘.
Thanks for reading my new Fitness series – ‘Getting Back to Being Fit Again’ by David R Tollafield at www.consultingfootpain.co.uk
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