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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

First Gym Visit Since...

This week I had my first gym visit in such as long time. It has been, I think, 15 months, you know since when. Prior to that gap I had been going to the gym on a weekly basis, but I'd only recently dropped down from going twice a week. So not going at all was quite the change.

My gym usage though was 95+% of treadmill, so I was able to shift my workout to walking and running outdoors; which had been my norm until two years ago anyway. I am a fairly new gym person. I really did miss having a dedicated space/ place to go to though. Particularly in the warmer weather I really missed the gym.

During that time I have also had a quite bad knee injury which has meant I have been unable to run for over 9 months. So while I might not have been able to use the gym anyway, I have really missed it, because I have also missed the replacement of running outside. You can read more about that journey here.

I have been apprehensive about returning to the gym because it feels like it's everything I think I shouldn't be doing. It's indoors, with other people, I'm breathing heavily, they are breathing heavily, and we are all touching stuff. It has definitely been something that has played on my worries and anxieties about a 'return to normal' or rather a return to what I did before.

I have throughout the last year plus, been very pleased with the approach by the gym I use PureGym. This is not a sponsored post, just my experience as a paid member.

Throughout the last 15 months, they have provided great communication. I have received email updates at each lockdown/ restriction stage/ change, been provided with videos walking through the gyms with guidance and instructions on how to use the space safely, along with information about what staff are doing to keep the space safe too.

During the last few weeks as I've mentally prepared to visit the gym I have also been able to use the app (I do like an app), to see when the gym is more busy or near it's capacity. That helped me to identify a time that I would be more happy and relaxed (less anxious) to return.

On the day I did go in, it was unplanned. I had a very unusual gap in meetings just before lunch and happened to look at the app. I noticed that the current attendance was low, and was expected to be low for the next two to three hours. So I decided over about 20 minutes to get my shorts and trainers on and go pretty much straight away. That didn't give me too much time to think, which can be helpful on occasions. I think mostly it helps if I have already had time to consider the decision previously. A new/ surprise thing would definitely need more time to be considered.

I walked to the gym and well... it was ok. Yay!

There was a one way system to move around, which after being there for an hour I can say was kept to 70% of the time. But there was always space to step to one side or walk around equipment. Though the first thing I noticed was staff cleaning and re-taping areas, which made me feel very happy and more safe. The number of people in the gym while I was there was I think 30-40% capacity and it felt good. There was plenty of space and generally no one around you.

The treadmills, the area of most interest for me, had large divides between each machine which weirdly I think helped to put that 'just run' mindset on.

Everyone I saw wore masks as they moved around, then took them off to exercise. The stuff wore masks all the time I was there. I felt very uneasy about taking my mask off indoors, but can also say, my mask is definitely not ideal for exercise. I think I might be tempted into looking at a mask for wearing while exercising, I'll see how I feel next time. I did feel safer and more informed because I had read the rules and guidance around mask wearing, social distancing and cleaning on the website. So I would definitely recommend you have a look at the websites if you are thinking about going back to your gym, or most other social spaces.

As I am still recovering with my knee it's more a walk, jog, walk, run, walk at the moment, but it was still lovely to 'be back'. I need to attempt using the resistance machines soon to strengthen my knee, that will be another challenge. There's more to touch, there's more contact, so I am more anxious about that. But we will see how that goes.

Generally I felt ok about my first visit. When I left I was very pleased, it might not sound like much, but this was kinda massive for me. Hopefully I can slowly get used to being back in the gym and using different equipment. Also just getting more used to being in spaces with other people is a positive for me.

I'm really pleased with the way my gym has/ is working to keep everything safe and to make it welcoming for people like me who are still worried or anxious about returning to gyms. Fingers crossed for continued progress.


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