Many people’s exercise regimens changed dramatically while they sheltered in place. Some moved less, some moved more, others adjusted their workouts based on the tools and space they had available. This time also inspired some people to take new steps toward improved health and well-being and to try new things.
No matter where you fell on the spectrum, to protect your body and set yourself up for success, you’ll want to ease back into a routine — and be ready to navigate how it may need to shift based on these evolving circumstances.
To help you get going, we asked five of Life Time’s Master Trainers for their best advice for restarting fitness endeavors after quarantine. Here’s what they had to say.
Tom Nikkola, CSCS, CISSN
Coach Tom’s Team Build program is formulated to meet the unique needs of those in their 40s and beyond.
Scale your training intensity. Your first week back to the club, work out at 80 percent of your normal intensity. Week two, go up to 90 percent, and then go fully at 100 percent your third week. This will help you avoid excessive soreness and prevent you from compromising your immune system as you work to regain your previous level of fitness.
Substitute as needed. With capacity limitations in clubs for safety reasons, you might find you have less time to work out, or you may be hesitant to share a piece of equipment like you used to. If your workout calls for a barbell but it’s not available, try dumbbells. If you’re supposed to do a cable-based movement, try bands or a bodyweight move instead.
Consume adequate protein and supplement with the Foundational Five. Your body needs the building blocks to recover between training sessions and to support your immune system. Protein is one of the body’s most important building blocks, as are essential micronutrients, which you can find in Life Time’s Foundational Five supplements.
Anika Christ, RD, CPT
Coach Anika’s Team Lean + Tone program is designed for those with weight loss and body transformation goals.
Plan ahead. Spend time mapping out what your fitness plan will look like for the upcoming week: What days will you lift? When will you do cardio? Are there any group fitness classes you want to reserve a spot in? Taking the time to create a plan you can track against increases the likelihood you’ll stick with it.
Have an open mind — and a plan B. Things are going to be different than they were the last time you were at the club. Do your best to take it in, learn what you need to know before you go, and not stress if you have to adjust your routine. For example, have a backup workout in mind in the case the equipment you want to use isn’t available.
If you’re not comfortable with all of the equipment on the fitness floor, now is a great time to take advantage of a complimentary orientation with a fitness professional.
Prioritize your warm-up. These are usually hit-or-miss with many people, especially if time is limited — they just want to get in and out. But it’s important to spend at least a few minutes moving your body and getting your heart rate up before you do any major movements or strength training. Try doing a few reps of movement prep as your warm-up, such as a set of bodyweight squats before you squat a barbell with weight on your back.
Samantha McKinney, RD, CPT
Coach Sam’s Team Express program was created to keep people with demanding schedules on track.
Let consistency reign over intensity. Changes in routine are mostly mental. Focus first and foremost on getting back into the swing of things, putting minimal pressure on yourself to “perform.” Decide how many days per week you’re going to exercise, and then do it — even if it’s only 10 to 15 minutes or four to five sets. Something is better than nothing. We’re creatures of habit, so if you can get yourself into the routine first, you can then build the intensity over time.
Freshen up your playlist. Has your workout playlist gone untouched for the past few months? Select at least 10 uplifting songs you know will help get you in a headspace that’s ready to move and sweat.
Prioritize strength training if you have limited time. Think 12 to 15 repetitions of a movement for two to three sets. If you’ve been able to keep active while at home, it’s likely that you’ve done more outside movement, which is great. Use this time to reengage with kettlebells, barbells, and other equipment you may not have had access to over the last few months.
The benefits of strength training completely depend on whether or not they are done correctly, so if you’re not confident in your form, connect with a trainer for guidance.
Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT
Coach Paul’s Team Endure program is built for cardio junkies looking to improve their pace or speed.
Ease back into your routine. Do this by focusing on your breathing, form, and control of movements you haven’t done in a while. For example, if it’s been several weeks since you’ve done barbell movements, approach your first session with reduced loads and renewed attention to technique. Use this time as an opportunity to build strong skills, not just strong muscles.
Train your mind for resilience by (re)starting a yoga practice. Our on-demand yoga classes are great to take advantage of from home, but practicing with an instructor who can give you verbal cues will improve your physical ability to perform the moves. Plus, the social (while also safe) atmosphere is sure to be a highlight of your day.
Keep striving for optimal sleep. Ideally, this is seven to nine hours every night. Sleep is the ultimate daily reset button for your mental, physical, and immune health — and you’ll need it more than ever as physical distancing precautions are relaxed and you resume more normal lifestyle patterns and public interactions.
David Freeman, CPT, PES
Coach David’s Team Power program was developed for the inner athlete to challenge both the mind and body.
Create structure at the start of your week. Develop a scorecard for each week that’s filled with actionable items to follow. At the end of the week, review how you did, and use it to inform your plan for the next week. Accountability breeds responsibility — at the end of the day, you are the owner of your results.
Speak to your “why.” A lot of times we focus on our short-term feelings. If you instead dive into your purpose — or the “why” — behind your overall health and fitness goals, you’ll discover a deeper meaning and connection to what you’re trying to achieve.
Once you identify your “why,” write it down, and share it with someone. Studies show when you write something down, you’re two times more likely to do it, and if you share it, that increases to three times.
Keep your mind right and your body right. Mental health leads to physical health, and understanding that the way you think leads to the actions you take can be a powerful tool.
Having a positive mindset in times of uncertainty is difficult — and developing a strong mindset takes time and patience. Creating a positive ecosystem that enables you in this area is key. Find a community that offers you support and positivity, such a those in yoga classes, small group training, or community outreach programs.
Craving more accountability as you dive into your routine? Each of our Master Trainers’ virtual Team Training programs (complimentary for Life Time members) can help jumpstart your routine. These goal-specific programs feature progressive workouts, and nutrition and lifestyle guidance, plus opportunities to message with your team and coach.