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Gym-goers warned to assess effects of lockdown before rushing back to weight bench

By Tyler Maher

It is a situation reserves footballers find themselves in on a yearly basis.

After months of minimal exercise, the first training session or match back for the season can so often end in injury — putting them on the sidelines once more.

But now exercise professionals are warning the general population to be wary of rushing back to the weight bench or their usual setting on the treadmill as gyms begin to reopen after a long coronavirus lock-down.

Aquamoves in Shepparton is one such establishment preparing to welcome patrons once more later this month, and Greater Shepparton City Council active living manager David Booth is encouraging members to be aware of the effects isolation may have had on their bodies.

“Aquamoves is excited to be welcoming Greater Shepparton residents back to the facility as of 22 June, 2020,” Mr Booth said.

“The health and safety of our customers and employees remains our highest priority, and you’ll notice a number of new measures to manage capacity and physical distancing in the centre.

“In the past three months, many of our Aquamoves community may not have been able to complete the type of workouts they usually would if the gym was open.

“We have been able to offer alternative online workouts and programs, but getting back into the gym can be another step up.

“We remind residents that strength and fitness is something that is built over lengthy periods, and it will take some time to reach the limits you were at previously.”

The best way to avoid any undue stress upon a return to the gym is to consult a professional.

“We suggest Aquamoves members, or those thinking of attending the facility, make contact with Aquamoves and speak to one of our many experienced instructors on how to best attack your return to the gym,” Mr Booth said.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia encourages all Australians preparing to resume previous workouts or continue exercise routines they began on their own during isolation to seek a review of their current exercise capacity.

“With the exception of those who had the ability to utilise a home gym and continue training at the exact same level and intensity, the fitness levels of most Australians have likely changed since lock-down,” accredited exercise scientist Nadine Presland said.

“Especially for those lifting weights, if you have not maintained your strength training routine during the past few months, jumping right back into an existing program at the gym could be potentially unsafe and cause serious injury.

“Speak to an expert. An accredited exercise scientist or an accredited exercise physiologist can work with you to make sure that you know how to exercise right for your health and fitness levels after lock-down and help to avoid any injuries in the gym.”

It can take just two weeks for exercise levels to regress without training, according to ESSA chief executive officer Anita Hobson-Powell, meaning the almost three-month shut-down could be a huge hurdle for those expecting to have maintained their previous levels of fitness.

“Whilst protecting ourselves and other people from the COVID-19 virus is important at the gym, we also need to make sure that we are exercising right for our current health and physical fitness because, for some, this may have changed significantly over the lock-down period,” Ms Hobson-Powell said.

“Although we are happy to see gyms slowly re-open across the country, by returning to a new or existing workout program too hard or too fast without a review of your current physical fitness status, some individuals may be placing their body at increased risk of serious injury which could be easily prevented with the right advice.

“Even for those who completed at-home workouts during COVID-19 confinement, they will still experience ‘detraining’ as a consequence of not having access to complete their workouts at their usual accomplished intensity.

“Research tells us that detraining can occur after just two weeks of not training in your usual manner with the same level weights and intensity, and affects your muscle strength, size and endurance.

“Detraining can lead to injuries if the person attempts to jump straight back into their previous exercise routine after a period of no training or decrease in training load.”

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