Back to Gym

5 Tips to Safely Return to Gym Based Workouts & Classes

Since the start of the pandemic, operators have been forced to close gyms across the UK. As a result of this, people have forged new relationships with exercise and adapted to different ways of working out. 

Many have turned to live workouts on social media, online platforms, and apps, or to purchasing their own fitness equipment to support their exercise journey at home. 

On the flip side, others may have let their fitness regime slip down the priority list as a result of lockdown. Nevertheless, it is never too late to get back into exercise and as fitness clubs and group exercise classes prepare to fully reopen, now is the perfect time to return to gym-based exercise in a safe and considered way.

For those looking to get back to the gyms and group classes, Steven Virtue, Fitness Development Manager at Total Fitness, shares his insights and top tips on how to do this safely.  

1) Understand that things will be different

As you find yourself motivated to get back into the gym and keen to build your fitness with the equipment and classes you enjoy, be mindful that things will be different when returning to the gym compared to before the pandemic. Operators are doing everything they can to keep members safe, implementing social distancing measures and new bookings systems to reduce the spread of Covid-19, so it may be a little different from what you remember. 

Preparing yourself mentally for this is the first step. Understand that you may have to wait slightly longer for a piece of equipment and that classes will be running at reduced capacity – the thing to remember is that all these processes are in place so you can exercise in a safe environment. 

2) Plan in advance to avoid disappointments

As classes are due to return next week, spaces are likely to be limited as they will be running at reduced capacity. Speak to your gym and ensure you are aware of the booking policy to avoid any disappointment. The demand could be larger than you expect and the last thing you want is to be left feeling disappointed if you can’t get a place in your favourite group class. 

Planning your week avoids this disappointment so it’s time to get organised – decide which days you would like to go to the gym for the following week and book your classes accordingly, and if you can’t get onto your favourite class, make sure to have a contingency plan. The main point here is that you show up and enjoy working out regardless.

3) Steer clear of injuries

Due to determinants of lockdown, this may have caused you to spend more time sitting down and ultimately moving less as a result of home working. This means it’s more important than ever to warm up and cool down after exercise. Restoring lost mobility will have a huge, positive impact on your results and reduces muscle soreness ensuring you can do more in the foreseeable.

Make sure to find a space within the gym where you can socially distance yourself from other members and perform your stretches in a safe and controlled way. If you’re unsure of the right movements for your fitness, speak to a fitness coach or PT as they can help assess any imbalances and make recommendations based on how you move. 

4) Stick to the basics in the beginning

Whether you have been keeping up your fitness or not, this won’t necessarily mean that your fitness level is similar to when the gyms were closed. For example, if you have taken up more cardio than you usually would then, without a balanced approach, this can have an adverse effect on your strength levels – many more people will be in this situation. 

Try sticking to the basic fundamental movement patterns which include squat, deadlift, pressing, pulling and centred core work. Mix this up with cardio activities you are used too without doing too much too soon. Chasing a personal best or going to hard too soon could set you back with an injury and/or limit your progression. Your body will need time to adjust, so slowly increase the weights and intensity and plan more time between sets as you slowly build back up to your fitness level. If you’re favourite fitness class offers different classes based on fitness levels, try starting at a lower level first and build yourself back up slowly – the important thing is to take your time. 

5) Fuel your mind and body

Everything that we do in the gym can have less impact without proper nutrition. To get the results you deserve from the hard work you put in, eating the right foods before and after your workout is imperative. 

Nutrition and exercise science is a minefield, with so much conflicting information, so it’s easy to get demotivated. Speaking to a personal trainer on your return can really help you understand nutrition and what is right for you and your goal. Get this right and you will see the results which will help to keep you motivated.

In summary, prepare for a change in your local gym, organise your week, prioritise mobility, whilst also dialling back on the weights and exercise intensity. This will create the ideal platform for longevity in your training. Support this with proper nutrition and you have a winning formula for your return journey to the gym.  


Total Fitness is the leading mid-market health club in the North and provides more ways to get fit, stay in shape, and more support to keep members focused. With 17 health clubs across the North of England and Wales, Total Fitness provides a full-service fitness offering; guided by knowledgeable and supportive fitness teams, the brand works hard to meet the individual needs of its members.

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For more information on how to perfect that basic fundamental movement, please visit Total Fitness’ ‘how to’ videos on YouTube.

Cover pic by CATHY PHAM on Unsplash

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