According to surveys, 70% of respondents said one of the most missed pre-pandemic activities was working out. Thankfully, with restrictions easing up, public parks and fitness centers are slowly accepting more people back in. That said, there are still some important considerations to keep in mind for maximum safety, satisfaction, and overall wellness.
In today’s article, I go over what you need to remember for working out in the New Normal. I discuss eight ways to get back into shape and form effective routines including group classes, coaches, nutrition, new essentials, and sleep.
1. Ease Yourself Into Your Old Routines
After over a year of mostly just staying in and not moving as much as we used to, our bodies have adapted to less movement. This means that many people may find themselves unable—physically and mentally—to simply resume their old workout routines. Rather than being too hard on yourself for this, though, it’s healthier and more sustainable to ease yourself back in.
Since most people took up a largely sedentary lifestyle last year, it's best to slowly rebuild endurance through one's daily routines. You can do this by incorporating healthy habits like (literally) running your errands, biking your commute, or doing your own housework. After all, an hour of cleaning windows alone can burn 229 calories. Over time, you’ll find that this increased level of activity has already improved your mobility and fitness.
2. Join Group Exercise Classes
Though social distancing is still encouraged, group classes are a great way to get you back into regular workouts. This is because studies show that group activities can inspire and hold participants accountable. In fact, the emotional and mental benefits of group workouts are so effective that 40% of regular exercisers prefer them. So, if you’re feeling a little less motivated to return to working out, you may be better off trying a class first. Regardless if you join a class you’ve never tried, or if you're just taking a refresher course, group classes can help put you back in an active mindset.
3. Get a Coach
Group exercises are great and a lot of fun. But often they don’t cut it. This is where coaches or personal trainers can help and be very effective. Coaches typically know a lot about fitness, nutrition, programming, and how to overcome plateaus or lack of motivation. It is important, though to pick a coach who is experienced with the particular goal you want to achieve and to have a very good, trusting relationship with each other.
One thing I learned from working with clients is that one of the most important benefits of having a coach is “external accountability.” It is tremendously powerful to discuss progress with someone else. You may be the most disciplined person in the world, you will still have moments of slack. A coach will bring you back on track and will do this in a subtle way.
4. Bring Your New Normal Essentials
Aside from your usual workout gear, health experts advise that people pack extra hygiene and sanitation gear, too. Since the COVID-19 virus is spread through airborne water droplets, a reusable face mask is one way to protect yourself and others. Specially designed to be comfortable and washable, masks have been proven to cut down transmissions by up to 70% without impeding performance or breathing. Additionally, to avoid coming into contact with infected surfaces, bringing alcohol or disinfectant wipes allows you to clean any area before and after use. In doing so, you’re killing off most bacteria that may stick to you or whoever uses the equipment after you.
5. Don’t Forget to Brush Up on Public Safety Guidelines
In many areas, safety guidelines vary depending on the local government. In some cases, certain facilities are even given free rein on their protocol. Hence, to ensure a stress-free workout, do your due diligence and find out the guidelines in the areas or fitness centers you plan to visit.
For instance, there may be a limit on the number of people allowed in certain indoor venues. In others, visitors are required to show their proof of vaccination. Knowing the specific guidelines before you even head out also helps you find the places that best suit your preferences. If you prefer a fitness center with outdoor classes, you can check their guidelines and find out. This way, you’re working out with more peace of mind.
6. Have Your Nutrition in Check
I covered nutrition already extensively in other articles. And I do this for a good reason. Out of the four parts of my 4 Legs of Fitness model, nutrition is the one that can make the biggest difference.
First, know your goals, then decide your energy need, then your macro split, and finally pick foods that support whatever area you want to improve. Problems sleeping? Get more magnesium. Wanna feel happier? Get more vitamin D. Feeling inflamed? Get some of those anti-inflammatory foods. Want a superfood? Get some bone broth.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the most powerful recovery mechanism. Yet, so many people never get enough sleep or not the right quality. Not resting enough has a significant impact on our health, body conditions like weight, concentration, how we interact with other people and of course our performance in sports.
If you have the feeling that your sleep quality is not optimal, I recommend getting a better understanding of your sleep patterns. That also includes your going to bed times and routines, your sleep environment, and when and how you wake up. There is a range of simple things that you can change today to improve your sleep quality. I summarised them in my article Fatigue, Illness, Inefficiency: Consequences of Poor Sleep Hygiene.
8. Remember: It’s Okay to Feel a Little “Off”
There’s nothing normal about the “new normal”—so it’s okay for you to feel weird or off. Globally, surveys have shown that people of all ages are feeling bouts of sadness, nostalgia, and even depression. That said, it’s important to acknowledge the situation and your own strength. The fact that you’re surviving a pandemic and striving to better your health is a laudable act in itself. And while your first few forays in public exercise may feel a little foreign, your mind and body will adapt over time. Soon, you’ll develop new routines and approaches that’ll suit your needs and circumstances. Leverage the power of systems to stay consistent.
Working out takes perseverance and dedication—especially in these trying times. But as you know I am a huge advocate of taking responsibility for your health. The right mix of exercise and nutrition will significantly influence your health and wellbeing. You won’t regret this investment.
In today’s article, I discussed what you need to remember for working out in the New Normal. If you need guidance, check out our Build Bullet-Proof Health program. It encompasses all four pillars of fitness, including strength and endurance training, nutrition, and recovery. In addition to integrated workouts, nutrition, and recovery plans, you'll get a goal assessment, calorie, and macro analysis, and you build sustainable habits.