As someone who has trained in a gym for 12 years, the UK Government announcing gym closure nationwide came as a shock, but I soon came to realise that it wouldn’t affect myself or my clients as much as I thought.
Fitness isn’t the gym. Health isn’t the gym. To rely on heavyweights and resistance machines to remain healthy would be foolish, as it would reduce autonomy and limit our own creativity when it comes to our own health and wellbeing.
A 3-4 week holiday doesn’t mean my own health would take a back seat. It means I would assess my environment, look at my surroundings and think about possible opportunities to express movement. So a few months with closed gyms enabled me to do just that.
This is why I think, now gyms are open and thriving, we shouldn’t forget that fitness is not limited to the four walls of your local leisure centre. Here are some things I think we should start to focus on now we are lucky enough to have total fitness freedom once again.
Walking. Obvious right? People underestimate the power of the step count. We think it’s not enough, and we rank it as lower importance than running. The majority of us can walk with little effort, which means we are more likely to do it more often and to do it for longer. Many of us aren’t physically fit enough to run continuously for a long time. There’s more to running than you think, but I’ll leave that for another blog.
Let's talk steps
Walking benefits your physical and mental health more than you know. I recommend a walk after work rather than a run believe it or not, as you’re more likely to be consistent with it. And as we know, being consistent with something is where the magic lies.
My advice is to aim for 1,000 more a day than you’re currently doing for a few weeks. Then add another 1,000. Before you know it, 10,000 will be a low day and you’ll realise that a good walk is crucial for long term health.
Resistance training is also very important. Let’s remove bodybuilding and other gym-based sports from the mix and start to understand that resistance is needed if we want to be strong and functional for as long as possible. Being strong means opportunity and independence. In my opinion, it’s something everyone should be doing.
Set your own expectations. 6 sessions a week is a pipe dream for most, but it doesn't need to be like that. I personally do 3 quality sessions a week, as do my clients. My 56-year-old mother does 2. Look at your current lifestyle, and fit in what you can with no added pressure.
It’s better to do 3 sessions a week for 20 years than 6 sessions a week for 6 months. Allow your training to tick over in the background. It doesn’t need to take over and add another stressor to what may already be a stressful life.
Life is getting busy again. Offices are open, socialising is more appealing after a year of being confined to our dining room table. The 2 aspects of health I have outlined can be done without affecting our work and social life. And that’s what we want right? So let’s remove extremes, remove quick fixes and just use the lessons of Lockdown to create a more sustainable view of fitness, that will benefit us for years to come.
By Sacha Lucas, Fitness Coach at @opexmanchester