It seems inevitable, given the forward briefings by the government, that gyms in the UK will not be opening before April.
I could be wrong about that (and there could be an outbreak of optimism on the part of the politicians and their advisors to allow the gyms to open in March), but I think, realistically, April will be the earliest when the gym doors will be opening again and we will be able to exercise with specialist equipment and heavy weights.
This means we still have some time to go before we can get structured and demanding workout programmes back on track (or shelter from the elements). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy exercising outdoors. I find it invigorating and stimulating, even at this time of year, though like many others, I also miss the benefits that only a modern gym can offer.
So, I am looking forward to those doors opening once again!
But, if we are a matter of weeks from being able to exercise in a well-equipped gym space, it is important that we do not waste the time available right now and that we continue to maintain a fitness lifestyle and focus on the benefits of exercise. In this vein, I offer the following advice to those so interested so as to make it to April ready to benefit and enjoy being back, working out in a gym.
As a starting point, identify what your preferred exercise format is. For some, it is strength and resistance training (certainly the worst hit by the closure of gyms), for others it is more about cardiovascular exercise (which can probably be best adapted to the current conditions). For some, the focus is on flexibility (which again, can best be adapted to an exercise programme maintained away from the gym).
Resistance exercise strengthens and/or builds muscle, and also improves mobility, particularly as we age. I am a huge fan of resistance training, as focussing on strength also builds resilience (which is, for obvious reasons, important right now).
Such exercises can be delivered from a single position but do require the right equipment, either in the form of weights or resistance machines/bands. Outside of the gym, home weight sets (which can be purchased online) can be used as a fill-in until the gyms open again or, for light resistance work, such cupboard essentials as cans of food can be used, together with that modern staple, the elastic band.
Elastic bands are great for this kind of exercise until the heavier weights are available, as they are affordable, take up almost no storage space and can be selected for the level of resistance required.
There are also many kinds of fill-in resistance training video guides online. Just go to Youtube, search ‘strength and resistance home training’ and you will have a variety of video guides to choose from. In addition, the NHS has also produced its own exercise videos (