They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and after nearly three months without a gym I am definitely feeling like you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
While I have managed to maintain a base level of fitness during lockdown, I have missed having an instructor telling me what to do.
I religiously do a couple of gym sessions each week and love that I can switch off while someone else does the thinking for me. Not to mention the fact that I work a lot harder knowing the instructor is watching as well.
But it is much more than that.
Gyms are a place of connection with a community feel that you don't get working out at home on your own or going for a run in the dark with the dog, as I have been doing a lot of lately.
Passionate, long-time gym owner and Planet Fitness Australia director Dallas Rosekelly was critical of the Federal and state governments for providing no clear roadmap on how and when gyms would reopen after being shut down on March 23.
"Come talk to us and help us reopen so we can help Australians get rid of some stress, freshen their mind, energise their body and start feeling mentally and physically well again," Mr Rosekelly wrote to the powers that be last month while also questioning why pubs and clubs with poker machines could reopen before gyms, which he said should be classified as an essential service.
It had the desired effect with welcome news for all owners and members last Tuesday that gyms in NSW can reopen from this Saturday. Class numbers will be capped at 10 and up to 100 people will be permitted inside at any one time. Gyms were allowed to reopen in ACT on May 29.
"The things that people come in here for; it's not just weight loss or to grow muscle," Mr Rosekelly said.
"That's massively secondary here. People come because they want to feel good. They walk in feeling tired and walk out feeling energised. Gyms are incredible. People also come in here to be around other people."
I for one can't wait to get back to gym and there are several reasons why:
Have you been outside in the morning or evening lately? I managed to get out a few mornings last week but it was dark and it was cold. Getting up in the dark and bitter cold and knowing I am driving to a warm and well-lit gym are sometimes what gets me out of bed for a workout in winter.
From pump classes, to spin classes, to barre, yoga, pilates, body balance, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Zumba, there is no shortage of ways to find a work-out that suits and challenges each individual. The beauty of the gym is you have access to all of the cardio and strength equipment as well.
Gyms are likely to have a first-in-best-dressed booking system while class numbers are restricted. This means once you commit to a class it will be harder to hit snooze instead of getting up because you will know that you have potentially taken someone else's spot. Just knowing that I am paying my $17 a week for a gym membership is enough to make sure I go at least a couple of times a week as well. Instructors also keep you accountable in a class where there is no hiding from the workout, and being part of a class can make you push yourself harder and therefore get more out of a workout than if you are doing something on your own.
Many gyms have transitioned to online offerings during lockdown. This has been a great stop-gap solution but there is nothing like being in an actual gym and getting feedback from an instructor on correct technique. It is very hard on your own at home or through an online class to ensure you are maintaining good exercise technique while working out.
There are genuine concerns in the fitness industry around the number of people who may cancel their gym memberships after finding other ways to work out while living in lockdown or after falling into some sedentary habits. Gyms support people on their health and fitness journey and the community can support local business to get back on their feet through membership.
Option 1 (lower intensity): Circuit. 2-3 times through, adjust workout and rest times to suit. This could be 30 seconds on, 30 off or 40 on and 20 off. Step-ups, shoulder press, dead lifts, walking/jogging on the spot, modified push-ups, squats, single-arm bent-over rows, walking/jogging on the spot, squat hold against a wall, opposing arm and leg extension.
Option 2 (moderate intensity): Alternate exercises in each set three times, working 40sec and resting 20sec, before moving on to the next set. Set A: squats, push-ups. Set B: lunges, bent-over/horizontal rows. Set C: shoulder press, plank/hover.
Option 3 (vigorous intensity): Walk, jog, sprint intervals. 30-60 sec each continuous for 20-30 minutes.
- Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three. email@example.com.