Step Back into Society: Experts advise a blended post-pandemic fitness regime

In 2020, when the first lockdown ended, a survey by Sport England showed that, despite the plethora of on-demand and virtual fitness options available to them, 87% of gym goers planned to resume their memberships post lockdown and a further 25% said they would join a gym, even if they didn’t have a membership. The reason being, the gym isn’t just a place where we gain muscle and pump iron. It’s a hub of energy, a community where change is made physically, mentally, socially.

Since then, Brits have seen two more lockdowns, including a particularly tough one throughout the winter months. Anxieties have increased, pressures mounted and many are now concerned about what stepping back into normality, both in society and in the gym, will look like.

As an October 2020 IHRSA report found that 95 percent of members miss at least one aspect of their club. Of the markets that are out of lockdown, operators in China, Japan, and the UAE have reported rapid recoveries in recent months. Within Les Mills gyms in New Zealand January 2021 attendance saw group fitness at 94 percent of that recorded in January 2020.

But with an 800% increase in downloads of its on demand service since March 2020, Les Mills projects that the at-home fitness movement won’t simply disappear as the gyms reopen, but rather complement it. As CEO of Les Mills Europe, Martin Franklin points out; “We’ve seen from the markets that have been through the pandemic and emerged from the other side, that people are adopting a blended fitness approach;  mixing in studio visits with on-demand fitness in a safe and sustainable way.”

Blended fitness it seems is the future of staying fit, healthy and more importantly, mentally resilient.

Here Les Mills experts break down why a blended approach to gyms and at home exercise after this third lockdown, is the best policy to avoid injury and societal burnout:

 

  • Keep up the good habits:

Sarah Durnford, Head trainer and Les Mills Presenter:

“If fitness has helped keep you grounded and feel safe during lockdown, then do ensure you keep it up, even as the excitement of social events comes back into play. Exercise is the way to keep your heart, mind and body resilient and it strengthens your immune system. Ensure you keep at least 30 mins-a-day free for your daily dose of endorphins, whether that is in the gym or on the mat in your lounge. Equally, if your fitness regime didn’t really picked up in lockdown, but you’ve learnt to show self-love in areas such as gratitude practise, long walks listening to a podcast or chatting to family on the phone, these are all important for overall feel-good hormones and reserving time for yourself. Don’t let these good habits, which prioritise your happiness, drop off post-lockdown. They kept you sane for a long time, so keep it up if you can.”

 

  • Variety is the spice of life:

Bronte Terrell, Les Mills Presenter from London:

“We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time over the last few months, not moving enough. Now we want our bodies to snap back and snap to it in next to no time? No. This isn’t healthy, it isn’t sustainable, and it certainly isn’t what the experts recommend. Your instructors, who are also really excited to return and see clients in person, are highly qualified and have trained for years to help you. Get advice from them on how to achieve results (whether that is pre-pandemic fitness or post-pandemic strength) in a safe way. And remember, mix it up – do low impact in between high impact work and ensure your body gets rest days too. If in doubt, the BOOSTER challenges available on Les Mills on Demand are a great guide for achieving evidence-backed results.”

 

  • Don’t let injury get in the way

Bronte Terrell, Les Mills Presenter from London:

“Did you know that too much HIIT actually isn’t good for you? Our research team have studies to prove that 30-40 minutes of training with your heart rate above 90 percent is a suggested maximum cumulative time per week, in order to prevent symptoms of overreaching. Which backs up our approach of mixing high and low intensity in the week, to make sure your body isn’t under undue strain. Bear in mind that your body will also take time to reach its pre-pandemic suppleness and strength, so don’t push too hard.  Be realistic with small goals and if you start to feel any niggles, see an expert and get a tailored programme to aid recovery.”

 

  • Prioritise mental health

Head trainer and Les Mills Presenter, Sarah Durnford:

“We’ve learnt that unless our minds are being taken care of, our bodies will not function at their best. The stress and pressures we’ve faced over the last year showed us the true value of investing time and energy into our mental health. Don’t let that habit go – it may be the single most important thing to focus on as we remerge into society. Which is why it is helpful to incorporate moments and movement that prioritises both. BODYBALANCE is my go-to for this. It’s Les Mills’ new generation yoga which has evidence-backed results proving it helps in everything from sleep quality to decreasing tension. Just 20-30 minutes, three times a week. Top that up with a mindfulness (or equivalent mental health practise such as breathing techniques or hypnotherapy) session and your mind (and body) will reward you ten-fold in thanks.”

 

  • Gains from The Group Effect

Justin Riley, Les Mills Trainer and Presenter from Leicester:

“So many new health and safety measures have been put in place by gyms and studios across the world and every person within these facilities is dedicated to ensuring members can still use it with full confidence.”

In a survey from November 2020, Les Mills On Demand found that 63 percent of non-gym members were interested in trying live Les Mills classes in a club as soon as they were allowed.

“As our Les Mills research has shown, being in an exercise class with others means you work harder than you would if you were at home alone. It’s called ‘The Group Effect’ and actually helps improve performance quicker. The added benefit is that by being in a group setting, you’re getting the oxytocin hit your body craves! It’s also the most encouraging thing to hear as instructors that the majority of members we have spoken to online, can’t wait to get back to live workouts in their club.”

 

  • Eat Your Veg

Justin Riley, Les Mills Trainer and Presenter from Leicester:

“Let’s not beat around the bush with this. When your parents nagged you to eat veg as a kid, they really did know what they were talking about. Fruit + Veg = Life!

We can’t stress how important it is to fuel your body right. You’ve been within metres of your fridge for about four months now. Make sure the on-the-go lifestyle doesn’t sideline your goals. Ensure you’re taking good energy into your body during this time (even though it’s tempting to suffice with a dinner of beer-garden pints this summer, be safe and sensible where possible). If I had to give one piece of health advice, it always comes down to drink more water. Humans are comprised of around 75% water and it is imperative for every cellar function in the body. For the optimal amount per day use this equation; Body weight in KGs x 0.033 = litres to consume per day. Optimum hydration leads to better performance mentally, physically, its cleanses your skin, satiates hunger – the lot.”