Return to fitness again after Lockdown
It was important getting back to being fit again
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)
It was 29th July 2020. This was 4 days after we had the all clear. Getting back to being fit again at last 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. Booking at first however was confusing and my first attempts threw up some problems. Booking by an App on my Smart phone unravelled the problem that I had experienced on my laptop. The vagaries of the internet appear never far away.
Getting back I guess was psychologically as important as having that first hair trim. But, I made it and it felt good as I climbed the steps to the entrance Wednesday morning what could I expect? As a regular user at my gym, the staff are a delight and always helpful. They appeared equally pleased to see us all return. This article is a record of my experience during this first weeks. I will take you through some of the machines I use and how I find them beneficial for my own past injuries.
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.
A bit about what I won’t talk about in this series.
And so you can follow my observations and thoughts over the next few months and let’s see where this takes us? I must just say two things. I am not going to give advice on how to use equipment or what exercises to use. This is down to you and the gym you use. Additionally I am not going to give advice on diet per se or tell you how to lose weight. There is so much out there that I would be outside my own comfort zone. But I will advise both seeking advice from your GP and or a dietician who can ensure that you have a balanced diet.
At 74Kg I was up a bit on the weighty side, but walking regularly had helped. The BMI value, so often used, was around 25-26 and a fat assessment of 15.5%. My alcohol was up (whose wasn’t) and those reduced portions had increased a bit. I was sliding! Before Covid and Lockdown I had fitted into my theatre costume. The play long abandoned would surely kick start and I needed to be able wear that Edwardian suit again soon I hoped. 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 exercise 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 you know those waists are a bit tighter when you pull your trousers on and 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. I knew having low attendance numbers would soon change very quickly but it was a delight to have only two 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.
Reduction of 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. Yellow arrows guided the direction. One entrance and one exit kept the flow in the right direction and maintaining minimum contact, as 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 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.
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 where you might count your steps and even reach those precious 8000 steps a day. There is no substitute for the ingredients of pushing up your blood pressure, creating a bit of sweat, pumping the muscles to help blood flow and of course increasing lung output.
I’m a retired podiatrist and 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 most people do not realise injuries sustained when young live on with us. 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.
In this series I am going to talk about my injuries so the reader can find a reference to being careful with some of the equipment. Anyway, I am booked for another session as I like to aim for 2-3 sessions a week. 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 next 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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