8 Things To Consider About Your Post-Lockdown Exercise Routine

Women working out together in gym class

Lockdown and the Covid-19 Pandemic were a major disruption to many of our workout cycles, including my own. The closure of gyms, the shifting of work schedules, and the rewiring of our social lives all took their toll and took us out of the natural rhythm we were in pre-2020.  

It can be hard to get back into the swing of things. If an activity, such as going to the Gym, has a regular slot or time hollowed out in your schedule, it is that much easier to stick to.

However, just as Lockdown scrambled our schedules. Over a year later, the lifting of that Lockdown threatens to do the same.

Regular exercise is important for all aspects of our health, be it mental or physical. And as such, it is important to get that routine back in full swing as soon as possible. You’ve got to enjoy the exercise routine you set out for yourself, and if you are constantly trying to make time, or worse, feeling guilty about not making time, then it will all be for nought. 


As such, I’ve put together some tips from my hard-learned experience and others about how to get back into an exercise routine that works for you, ready for the reopening of Gyms and Fitness Clubs throughout the country. 


1. Plan a Routine

An old Prussian General called Moltke the Elder once said that no plan survives the first encounter with an enemy. In the same vein, no workout routine really survives the first encounter with reality.

But that is no excuse not to plan. Moltke was a master-planner and his strength was recognising that a plan was necessary, but that flexibility was paramount.

His philosophy lives on today in the AGILE method of work used in offices. And it should be used in planning your workout routine. Your plan is your guideline, and if a part of it doesn’t work out, it should be flexible to cope and adapt to that. 

Sometimes something will get in the way, an important meeting, a family emergency. Have overflow in your routine to be able to slot in a backup workout session without it feeling like a defeat. A friend of mine has a two-tier system. He strives to go to his gym at lunch every day, and if he can’t, he goes after work. It is simple but effective. Giving him the wriggle-room necessary to adapt to his mood. 


2. Trial Your Routine 

Visiting our good friend the General for some more advice. Trial your routine and learn from that test.

Did you try to work out at Lunch every day this week? Did you feel really hungry and tired in the latter part of the day? Maybe every day is too much, maybe Lunch isn’t the time for you. 


Did you set out an ambitious plan and end up only sticking to half of it? That might be a good indication to scale back your plan. Not by the full 50% you missed, but maybe by around 70 to 80%. See how your next week goes. 


Remember the days that work really well. Did Thursday’s workout feel beautifully stress free because you have nothing on in the evening after work? Then lock that one in place. Did Friday Evening on the other hand drag because you were missing out on all that weekend goodness. Then maybe try and lock in Friday morning instead. Adapt and learn from your routine. Otherwise you’ll forever be hostage to something you aren’t enjoying, poor motivation to stick to it, and no good for your mood or self-esteem. 


3. Variety is the Spice of Life. What do you want to do?

While this list is mainly focused on lockdown ending and the return to your Gym or Fitness Club, that doesn’t mean it is the only thing you need to do.


Mix it up. Classes will be reopening now with the lifting of restrictions and that means an unprecedented amount of variety. And I’m not limiting this to just resistance and spin classes. There is a whole world opening out there again. Dancing, football, rock climbing, paddleboarding. There are a hundred ways to move your body, so don’t limit yourself to 30 minutes on the treadmill every day.

We’ve spent a good portion of this year trying to reconstruct a routine under a limited set of parameters. It is time to get out there and find out what you love and what works for you.


4. Find a friend

Speaking of limitations. Another limitation you no doubt keenly felt this past year, unless you live on a commune, is the inability to see your friends.

What better way to reintroduce yourself to the world then by syncing up some of your workout routines with a friend. This will be a great way to get back to socialising and make your restart less daunting.

In addition, you and your friend will be able to keep each other honest. With someone to motivate you and observe your triumphs and failings, your journey to a fitness routine will be that much easier. 


5. Find a Target

So I’ve run out of quotes from our friend the General, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t make all those plans without a goal in mind. So let’s talk about targets.


A routine isn’t going to do all that much unless you have a target in mind. Now this target isn’t set in stone. As we discussed in point one, you’ll be shifting aspects of your routine as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Your targets are the same. This will either be because you achieve them, or because your values change. Want to dress up as Conan the Barbarian for Halloween? Might need some more Chest Press in that routine. Halloween passed and you are now trying to keep that winter weight at bay? To the treadmill my friend.

Your circumstance and desires as you go through life will change, and your routine will change with it. But always have a goal, even if it is as minor as to just keep maintaining your existing gains. 


Finally, think about what really motivates you to exercise. It doesn’t have to be something grandiose like winning Mr Universe. It can be as simple as because you really enjoy exercising, or because it puts you in a good state of mind for work, or for the evening at home.


6. Don’t Burn Yourself Out

Leading on nicely. Be kind to yourself, in your routine, and your target. It has been a tough and extraordinary time over the last eighteen months. And many of us are in a very different place to where we were before.

This doesn’t mean you need to crack out the whip and pump iron until you can’t move. That is, in fact, the opposite of useful. What we are looking to do is build a sustainable, responsible but effective routine. 

And you hitting the gym twice a day, seven days a week until you’ve atoned for that lost year isn’t any of those things. It isn’t sustainable as you won’t keep it up and form a habit. It isn’t responsible as you may well damage your body, and it isn’t effective because you need time to recover.

Obviously, that is an extreme example, but we all have limits and this lockdown represents the perfect storm to accidentally over-exert yourself. You never want to hit the point where a workout will be pointless damage to your body. Sustainability is the name of the game. Ideally, you want this routine to be one you are doing for a long time (albeit with minor tweaks). 


7. Make sure to get enough rest

Once again with an effortless segue between topics, the last point reinforces why it is all the more important to factor REST into your routine. Like Plato understood when he was hanging out in a cave, without the dark we cannot know the light. And without rest, we cannot get the results we desire.


While it might not be as glamorous as going up another 5k in your reps and sets. It is how you are going to enable your body to make those improvements and therefore it can’t be taken for granted.


As we referenced in points 1 and 2, this means that if you have a day where you’ve got a workout planned and your body just doesn’t feel ready. The issue might not be with you, but with your routine. Examine it closely, is this a one-off, or are you pushing yourself too hard. The last thing anyone wants, you most of all, is permanent damage to your body. Your routine should be designed to protect you from this possibility, but if you ever feel yourself falling out of sync. Rest up.


8. Your Point of View

Mindset is key in every walk of life. Whether something is bearable or unbearable will nearly always come down to mindset and your Gym or Fitness Club workout routine is no exception.

Whether or not you are finding the workout enjoyable is what really matters. As I mentioned in the variety section, find out what works for you. As I mentioned in the Target section, understand what benefits you and your body. But most importantly it has got to be something you enjoy doing. Take my go-to example, the rear delt fly. I literally look forward to the moment I can sit down and do that exercise. And that is how you should eventually feel about at least one aspect of your routine, and preferably more.

There will always be parts you enjoy less. I hate treadmills if you couldn’t tell. But I still get on one because I recognise it is an important part of what will help keep me in good shape. (And if I’m not feeling like it, see point 2, I just use the cross-trainer instead). 


And In Closing…

If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that a lot of this revolves around planning, trial, and error. Finding your feet with a new routine post-Lockdown is going to be all about practice, perseverance, and persistence.

Remember it isn’t a race against anyone else other than yourself. We have all been locked away for a long time, and many of us haven’t exercised around other individuals in over a year. Celebrate your successes, learn from your failures. If you can celebrate the successes of others then all the better. 


The Gym and Fitness Club environment is going to continue to be strange for a while to come. Covid-19 safety restrictions and measures will continue to be in force, and the looming threat of another lockdown is a distinct possibility as we move into the winter.

As such, it is all the more important that you remain optimistic, structured yet flexible in your approach to working out. Utilise your Gym or Fitness Club while you can, as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so. 

This journey is all about improving yourself in whatever ways you want and that is worthy of celebration. It is harder than it sounds, but if done right, it is worth doing. Good luck!

When Should You Go To The Gym and Train Post-Lockdown?


For as long as I’ve been going to the gym, me and my friends and my Gym acquaintances will get into debates. Some seem quite antiquated these days (namely, should you clean your Gym Equipment after use). But some are still relevant now we are hopefully moving past the Covid-19 Lockdown. 

Namely, what is the right time to go to the Gym? Is it at 10:45pm so that when you arrive there is no one but you and the guy wearing a mask that makes it harder for him to breathe? Or is it at 5am, where it is probably quiet but you risk running into the practitioners of Yogalates? Maybe it is at lunchtime because that is when everyone else seems to go? Ah, maybe not.

If you already have your answer, you might not need to stick with me on this one. But maybe you are feeling academic. Maybe you are feeling like switching it up now we are exiting Lockdown. Or maybe you haven’t made up your mind at all. If that is the case, keep on scrolling.  


As you hopefully realise, there isn’t going to be a silver bullet, miracle answer at the end of this blog. But hopefully I’ll be able to impart some knowledge and insight into when might be the best slot for you, and whether the strategy of mixing and matching the times where you visit the Gym might be better. 


Exercising at night. Better Sleep or Blighted Sleep?

So here is a talking point you’ve probably heard before if you’ve spent any amount of time around Gym People. The question goes, does working at night, before bed, kill your sleep quality and mess up your sleeping schedule?

If you are like me, you’ve heard people tell you both answers. They can’t get to sleep without their evening pump. Or they can’t get to sleep after it. 

While I fully believe the people who say they sleep better, chances are that they are in the minority on this one. It is generally accepted that working out immediately before you go  to sleep is not a good idea, and will impact most people’s quality of sleep.

However, that being said doesn’t make night workouts a no go. It just means you need to be careful. Plan a barrier of an hour or more between your Night Workout and the time you go to bed and you can still get away with this quiet, cosy workout slot. 


Additionally, working out in the evening is a great chance for you to blow off some steam and disperse the tension and stress of the day. Additionally, you’ll most likely be sitting on a lot of fuel from your lunch and dinner that you’ve had during the day. So there are definite benefits if you can pull this one off!


Your Internal Clock: Work around your strengths

You’ve most likely heard the phrase ‘Biological Clock’ before. The concept that people have times where they would normally be awake and more functional if left to their own devices, and times where they are less functional if you forcibly wake them.

This often comes into place with Teenagers, who tend to have biological clocks that trend towards 12 to 2pm in the afternoon as the ideal time to wake up. That being said, I know plenty of adults who work on this scale, so it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Everyone is different and the same person can have a different biological clock in their 20s to the one that they’ll have in their 30s. 


What this means for the purpose of my article here today is that, the time that worked for you pre Covid-19 might not be the time that works for you post Covid-19. 

Time has moved on, you have most likely changed and your routine may have as well. Examine your daily routine before you go back to the gym. Do you no longer feel as spry as you once did in the mornings and now really come into your own past midnight? Or conversely, did lockdown turn you into a Yogalates practicing juice drinker? Either is great, as you long recognise it and plan around it. 


How About Lunch?

No, I’m not asking you to lunch. In the introduction I mentioned lunch. Now, as you may remember pre-lockdown. A sizable portion of any given office staff in a city love to go the Gym at lunch. It makes sense right? You are in the area, you have an hour to kill. You are mid-way through the day and you’ve just had food or you’ll have some afterwards?

Unfortunately, an intuitive time does not always make a good gym-slot. And that is because of two key things. Overcrowding, and time restrictions.

Post Covid-19, Gyms and Fitness Clubs are going to have to be much stricter on the number of people that can go into any given workout area at any given time. In addition to that, everyone will be spending additional time cleaning any gym equipment they use.

Therefore, unless you plan to spend the entire hour gunning it on a treadmill, everyone’s workout will be taking a lot longer, during a lunch hour that was already pushing it in terms of efficiency. 


The only positive for lunch-time workout hour I can see post-Lockdown is that with the rise of Working From Home, actual office workers might be in scarcer supply in the big cities. 

But conversely, they will be more prevalent in suburbia. Understand your area and the behaviour patterns of the Gym-Goers in your area for the best, least stressful results.


So you want to use the Best Machines and Equipment?

Every Gym or Fitness Club I’ve ever been to has had certain pieces of equipment in short supply. Sometimes it isn’t even for a lack of trying on the Gym’s part. I’ve seen 3 to 4 Chest Press Machines all be consistently full during a 1 to 2 hour period. Sometimes you just can’t plan for the demand. 


As I covered in the last section, this problem is only going to become more acute for, at the very least, a while after the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted. 


Gyms and Fitness Clubs will be rightly prioritising hygiene and unfortunately that will result in long cleaning times, especially on the desirable machines.

The implication of this is that if you want to do a workout at your own pace, you are going to have to find a comparatively quiet time, or series of quiet times. 


One semi-reliably quiet time at the moment seems to be the very early morning. Getting your workout in while it is still dark out can be a challenge, but also very rewarding. The lack of distraction on that cursed mobile phone we all have will do you the world of good. And, at least for me, starting the day at the Gym really feels like I’ve achieved something before the rest of the world is awake. 


If you like structure and minimal wait time between equipment use, then starting the day at the Gym can be a real boon. But as we covered earlier, if your biological clock isn’t ringing until 11:30am, this might not be the one for you. 


Closing Thoughts: On Convenience, and whether to be Consistent or Consistently Inconsistent?

Convenience is a double-edged sword, as you might’ve reflected as you read my thoughts on this matter. Any time that might work well for you, might work well for other people.

As such, it becomes important to understand who you are sharing a Gym or Fitness Club environment with. If 40% of the membership is there at 6am everyday, then perhaps it is time to consider going after work.

And equally, as I’ve implied throughout this article, there is nothing saying you have to go at set times of the day. In his autobiography, Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about how he felt he got the most gain when he started training at two separate times of the day. And that seems to have worked well enough for him! 


Jokes aside, the best time to visit the Gym will ultimately be the time that works for you. It sounds like a cop out, but it is the truth. Personally, I am someone who thrives when I am doing workouts at irregular times, depending on the day. Before lockdown I’d only ever be found in the Gym immediately after work on a Friday, because I knew it would be dead.

This sort of agile approach can allow you to access the great slots without locking yourself into bad slots. But it isn’t for everyone. I hope you can make the right decision for you, and I hope my thoughts have helped.

Good luck! 

Top Tips To Stay Motivated With Your Fitness Goals At Home

Now or Never Slogan

You might not always be able to find time to get to the gym, but it’s important to try and maintain your fitness regime if you want to achieve your fitness goals. Staying motivated outside of the gym is one of the biggest obstacles people face whilst trying to get fit.

The number of distractions at home in comparison to working out in a gym is far greater, so, here are our 8 top tips that will make sure you aren’t saying things like “I’ll do it later” or even “I’ll carry on next week”…


8 Top Tips For Getting Fit Outside Of The Gym

Here are 8 tips to get you up in the morning, get you working out and get you achieving your fitness goals at home. And the best part is, you can start right now because you’ll be surprised how few changes you have to make to your day-to-day life, other than just giving it a little bit more structure.


1 – Set a Schedule

Plan your workouts by day, keeping to the same schedule when you attend the gym if possible. Split it by training different muscle groups or by the style of workout. It is all about what suits you and what you enjoy, BUT, be realistic with how many workouts you plan. The worst thing you could do is plan for 2 workouts a day from the beginning.

You won’t complete them, and your motivation levels will plummet!

An idea may be to start at planning 3 workouts a week and go from there.


2 – Use Your Day-to-Day Calendar

If your workouts are in your diary you use for all other meetings and social meetings. Block out time for you to do the workouts when it suits your lifestyle! If you don’t block out the time at the start of your fitness journey, you’ll struggle to make time to work out.


3 – Workout With Friends

Create a small group of friends with similar goals and make each other accountable. Share your workout schedule and complete workouts together! These days it is easier than ever, make use of video calling apps like Zoom or Facetime and complete sessions together. Think of it as a fitness class… just at home.


4 – Adhere to the Schedule

Points 1, 2 & 3 are all great, BUT only if you stick to them! You have taken the time to plan, so go and do it!


5 – Make Time

30 minutes is 2% of your entire day!

If you can watch a Netflix show for 30 minutes, I’m sure you could workout for 30 minutes.

And if there is one thing that I can guarantee, it’s that 30 minutes of exercise will make you feel a lot better than that extra episode of The Office that you have seen countless times before!


6 – Create a Space to Work Out

Kind of like having a home office; if you make a dedicated space to workout you will enjoy going in there. A lot of workouts are made to be done in a very small amount of space, so living in an apartment isn’t an excuse!!


7 – Push Yourself

Part of the perceived problem with working out at home is that you have no one there to push your limits. If you make it a point to do that extra rep, hold that plank for 10 seconds longer you’ll definitely see results… and a lot quicker than you think! It’s all about making those small incremental gains – they add up. A good way to think of this is if you feel like a workout is too easy, you’re either not pushing yourself or you need to make it harder. Add a bit of weight to the exercise or ad another set to the workout.


8 – Start Positive, Stay Positive

Excuses creep in more at the beginning. Having a longer-term goal in mind will help you to stay positive.

I set you a challenge; workout at home for 30 days.

If you absolutely hate it, then stop but once you are in your groove you will soon discover that it is one of the most rewarding ways to exercise!

Weight Loss Myths… What Not To Do

Scales and tape measure

Nowadays, there is so much confusion about how to lose weight in the most effective way. Let us show you 5 common weight loss myths and explain why not all of the common perceptions surrounding weight loss are correct.


1. If You Miss A Meal Your Body Will Go Into Starvation Mode 

For thousands of years, humans have fasted. Muslims will fast during the holy month of Ramadan, Jews will fast throughout the judgement day of Yom Kippur and Christians during the 40 days of Lent and they function just fine.

However, in recent years we have decided to ignore thousands of years of history and state that fasting is not only bad for our health but will actually cause us to put on weight.

This common weight loss myth states that when we miss a meal or go without food for a prolonged period of time, the body will go into starvation mode. When we do eat again, our body decides to store whatever food it receives and tuck it away as body fat.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, actually, when we go without food our body realises that it is not receiving energy via the diet. So, the body is prepared for a situation like this, it accepts this fact and simply switches over to burning the energy that it has stored away as body fat. Hence we lose weight.

2. Meal Replacement Shakes Are A Healthy Way To Lose Weight

With the rise of companies such as Forever Living, Arbonne and Slimfast, meal replacement shakes are becoming an increasingly popular method of weight loss.

Meal replacement shakes are usually bottled products that are consumed instead of eating one of your main meals (breakfast, lunch or dinner), in an effort to reduce your calorie intake resulting in weight loss.

However, the average “healthy” meal replacement shake contains approximately 5 teaspoons of sugar. Now, instead of breakfast, would you drink a cup of tea with 5 teaspoons of sugar in it and still deem it healthy…?

There are 3 main issues with meal replacement shakes:

The 1st is the sugar content. When we take on a high amount of sugar this stimulates insulin, the fat-storing hormone. So when the “slimming programme” is over, because insulin has been consistently stimulated over a long-term basis, the body is in storage mode. Thus, when the individual starts to eat whole meals again, these meals are more likely to be stored as fat.

The 2nd issue is that when you lose weight using meal replacement shakes, you’re not actually changing anything in the diet. So the minute that your weight has been lost, 9 times out of 10 you will revert back to eating how you were before because the original issue in the diet hasn’t been recognised and nothing has changed. Therefore, returning back to old original habits brings about the same result as before, weight gain.

Finally, these meal replacement shakes are crazy expensive! For example, the Forever Living Clean 9 costs in excess of £100 for 9 days worth of shakes!


3. Weight Loss Is All About Calories…

If you have ever been on a diet, I have no doubt that you will have heard of the dreaded calorie.

“Don’t eat that, it’s high in calories”

“Oh I burnt 500 calories today”

But has anyone ever explained to you what a calorie actually is…?

One of the main problems with popular diets, the majority are centred around calories and making sure that you consume as few calories as possible.

There are multiple issues with this weight loss model. Two of the main issues are that if anyone has ever gone on a low-calorie diet, they will know that you are SO HUNGRY all of the time and eating bowls of pasta and pot’s of low-calorie yoghurt really is not an enjoyable way of eating.

Another common problem is that low-calorie food means low-fat food, which means the majority of your meals are centred around carbohydrates. For more information on why you shouldn’t cut fat out of the diet, and limit carbohydrates click here.

One thing to note is that not all calories are the same, 100kcal of lettuce and 100kcal of chocolate may have the same calorie content, but they have completely different effects on the body when eaten.

You don’t want to (or need to) spend the rest of your life, weighing your food counting calories. It is not an effective weight-loss strategy. Weight loss should not be difficult and centred around foods that taste like cardboard. Get excited about your food, enjoy the weight loss process and sod the calories.


4. You Have To Exercise To Lose Weight

Normally, when an individual decides to lose weight, their first port of call is the treadmill, but is this beneficial?

This is not the case. Cardiovascular exercise has multiple health benefits, but as an effective fat loss strategy it’s not the best of tools.

Weight loss can certainly be achieved through diet alone.


5. Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day

This is probably the most common weight loss myth that we come across. The notion that we must have breakfast in the morning to speed up our metabolism. If we skip breakfast we will have no energy throughout the day and our body will go into starvation mode (see point 1).

Let’s just start by looking at the word “Breakfast” it means breaking your fast. It doesn’t say “You must break your fast as soon as you wake up”. Your body has gone in excess of 12 hours without food, going another 2-3 hours without food certainly won’t do it any harm.

Again, as stated earlier, when we go for a period of time without food, we actually allow our body to burn the food energy that it has stored as body fat.

A common phrase we hear is “I don’t eat enough”. Now if we actually look at that sentence, why would eating MORE food mean that you would lose weight? It doesn’t really make sense.

Stressed, Depressed or Anxious? Exercise Could be the Answer

Mental health has become an increasingly prevalent talking point in recent years, and it’s no surprise when we consider that Mental health-related complications are one of the main causes of the world’s overall disease burden. As awareness around mental wellness has grown, exercise has been hailed as an inexpensive method of dealing with ailments such as stress, depression, anxiety and even sleeping problems.

A scientifically proven mood booster, exercise encourages the release of chemical endorphins in the brain and nervous system. This, the body’s famous ‘feel-good’ chemical produces feelings of happiness and euphoria. So much so that even only moderate exercise throughout the week can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. As a result, many doctors will recommend an exercise regime for mental health conditions before prescribing medication.

Our mental health is also closely linked to the quality of sleep we get a night. There’s a vicious cycle whereby poor sleep leads to worrying, and worrying leads to poor sleep – exercise can help break this trend. The increase in body temperature that comes from working out in the gym has a calming effect on the mind. Whilst the body’s natural alarm clock, our circadian rhythm, is also better regulated when we take part in a regular exercise regime.

Noticing the changes that going to the gym has on our body can be a huge boost to our self-esteem. Better still, there’s no shortage to the physical achievements we can experience through regular exercise! You may not set out for better fitting clothes, less laboured breathing on your Sunday walk or a spring in your step. Oftentimes, the improvements that exercise has on our endurance and physique catches us by surprise.

Reduced stress levels are another mental benefit of exercise, and undoubtedly something that could make us all happier! Increasing our heart rate stimulates the production of hormones in our brain such as norepinephrine, which not only improves mood but can also lead to clearer thinking when experiencing stressful events. Some studies go as far as to suggest that physical activity boosts creativity and mental energy. So if you’re in need of inspiration or mental clarity, your best bet may be heading to the gym for a quick work out!

So next time you’re feeling low, why not lace up your trainers and head out on a jog, lift some weights in the gym or do a few lengths of your local pool. You’ve got nothing to lose and science says it’ll make you feel better!