Putting one foot in front of the other
Reigniting your fitness flame is well within reach
August 04, 2020
It hasn’t been the easiest year to boost or maintain fitness.
Whether you miss socialising, or the gym for low impact exercise, weeks of solitary sweat has tested even the most dedicated exerciser.
“For me, energy and motivation comes from the regularity and routine of meeting as a group - pushing each other that bit further. So I have lost a lot of fitness and motivation to run,” says GoodGymer Michelle. Fellow member Pauline agrees, “Through injury, surgery and lockdown, I feel that I have lost the drive and energy I had. I feel I’m starting all over again, and it’s tough. Having felt the benefits of regular running sessions, I want to get that fitness back!”
But it’s not all uphill (forgive the pun). Whether you use the next few weeks to regroup goal-wise, or head out to discover the lat-loading benefits of a bit of compost-turning, you can keep pushing forwards with a little bit of SSK (Sweat Strategy Know-How).
Laura Williams, our Tower Hamlets Area Activator, has been speaking to GoodGymers up and down the country and these are their top tips to maximise those fitness benefits in the weeks ahead…
1) Don’t underestimate the power of routine
If you’ve had a break, intentionally or otherwise, plan your comeback - and stick to the plan. GoodGym member Bliss suggests the following, “I was running loads at the start of lockdown and gradually building my mileage. Then I hit a milestone week with the Centurion Running Challenge and after that lost all my motivation! It’s now been almost 10 weeks of lower mileage and now I’m actually loving it again. A big lesson I’ve found is to take a break when you need it. Once you start injecting some structure back in, your mojo will return.”
2) Capitalise on enforced rest
Seems like GoodGymers have taken advantage of the situation when it comes to fitness – and scenery… “Despite running slower I am also making sure I take more time to appreciate the awesome countryside that I get to run in and trying to take it all in” says regular GoodGym runner Matt.
Longstanding GoodGymer Dave agrees, “I found new running routes, and see hedgehogs and bats on my evening run”, while runner Michael adds he’s enjoyed, “admiring the hand drawn ‘love the NHS’ pictures on so many houses.”
Sarah has “rediscovered my love of cycling. You get further faster than running – a revelation!”, while Tracey got so much from “watching all the swan and duck families grow, and to see life going on as usual with the birds.”
So if you find you too are having to take in a lot of swan scenery as life slowly (very slowly) returns to normal, it may be no bad thing. Rest assured your running regime will be back before you know it (see #6).
3) Become a self-appointed social secretary
“A group environment means you can find someone to run at whatever pace you feel like running that day. And a chance to chat distracts me a lot, and helps my breathing with running”, says Michelle.
Yep, there’s no doubt about it – fitness with friends helps. A lot. But while GoodGym, and every other fitness institution on the planet, awaits further instructions (and let’s face it, they change rapidly), do take it upon yourself to get a group moving. Use your GoodGym Area Activator to help you organise and list tasks and add on an informal run. Chat to a parkrun regular about small, informal meet-ups… You have the power to make your group fitness happen – it’s allowed, guidelines are clear and it’ll do you all the world of good.
4) Use limited toilet facilities to squeeze in that speedwork
“Since lockdown I have been running less, because public toilets aren’t open. Normally when I run I find I need the toilet more”, explains Lucy. Many a runner has been caught out during lockdown… (“I bought some camping toilet roll to take with me”, Matt adds).
Okay, so although speedwork and digestion aren’t known for being the best of bedfellows, once in a while there’s no harm in capitalising on nature calling to sprint those last 200m back to your front door.
5) Use GoodGym and other volunteering activity to highlight fitness gaps
“One of my earliest GoodGym trips was to Stepney City Farm, and I ended up breaking apart some wooden pallets with a sledgehammer. It was so much fun - I felt like Thor. But then my arms hurt so much for the next few days that I was like, “Right, I think it's time to sign up to the gym and fix these noodly things ”, says Si.
Here’s what they don’t tell you on sign-up: compost-turning blitzes lats and obliques; weeding is one long isometric squat, pallet smashing is…well, good for arms…The fitness gains to be made over the mulch are vast. Use the abundance of incidental exercise opportunities to melt muscles in the weeks ahead.
6) Know that fitness normality will return
“I can’t wait to get some form of social, group run back on the calendar,” Pauline said. We know how you feel, Pauline! And eventually Planet Fitness will return to normal. You will line up with hundreds for a race, you will meet friends and friends-to-be at larger volunteering events; you will be able to safely sweat within 1m of your mate.
In the meantime, however, patience, creativity and a little bit of resilience will be your best fitness friends.
Written by Laura Williams, our Area Activator in Tower Hamlets. (Laura is a qualified personal trainer and holds additional Level 3 qualifications in Sports Conditioning. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.)