As we’ve all gone through the weird year that is 2020, there are a lot of things we’ve learnt about ourselves. Whether it’s that you make a really good banana bread loaf, or you realised just how much you like going to the hairdressers (although we think that was everyone).
But there are a few lessons that maybe you haven't considered, that we should all be taking away from lockdown and the pandemic; things we should remember even when all of this is behind us.
So, we’ve compiled 10 of the most important lessons gym-goers can take away from the last 10 months.
1. The importance of exercise for mental health
During the first lockdown a lot of you might have realised the positive impact the gym has on your mental health, putting you in a much better mood with the wonders of endorphins and seeing your consistent progress. Heading into lockdown put into perspective for a lot of gym-goers this vital connection between exercise and mental health.
Realising this direct correlation gives a lot of people practical tools to tackle stress and anxiety, getting your heart pumping even for just 15 minutes a day.
2. To slow down
If your daily routine pre-lockdown consisted of getting up, grabbing a quick breakfast on the way out the door, rushing to the gym at peak time after work, eating, and then going back to bed before starting it all over again, then this lesson probably applies to you.
Gyms closing, as well as a lot of offices, made everyone take a breath and slow down our busy lifestyles. We swapped heading to the gym every night for some chilled-out yoga, and a lot of TV. And for some, missing a few gym sessions might have been just what they needed.
3. There is more to life than the gym
Coming from us, this might sound a bit strange, but it's true. As much as we love the gym and all of its mental and physical benefits, the pandemic taught us what’s really important. Spending time with family (in your household or bubble of course!) was shown to be even more important. It also let up more time to do other hobbies, like reading, going on walks or cooking more.
And replacing leg day with a family night maybe isn't so bad after all.
4. You don’t need a gym membership to stay fit
Everyone got super creative with their workouts during lockdown, and a lot of you found workouts you would never have even considered doing pre-lockdown.
Whether it was running, skipping, Tabata, Yoga, or simply just walking, there are so many ways to stay fit without having to step into a gym. So, next time you can’t be bothered driving to the gym, there are so many more workouts to get your heart pumping without having to leave your house.
5. That gains don’t disappear after missing a week at the gym
Ah yes, the familiar panic at the beginning of lockdown, thinking that your months or years of progress will disappear within the first few weeks of being without a barbell.
But we soon learned that this is simply not the case, and when you think about all the hard work it took to gain that muscle, it’s clear that it won't disappear within a week.
Not to mention how many learnt that re-building muscle is much quicker and easier than building it from scratch, so even if you did lose some muscle, it won't be hard to build it back, even better.
6. That you actually like cardio
For all those that are used to hanging out in the weights area of the gym and aren't even sure where the treadmills are, cardio was probably the last thing on your mind as lockdown hit. But as desperation for endorphins got increasingly unavoidable, running probably became your go to.
And a lot of gym-bunnies have found a love for cardio through lockdown, whether that be skipping, running or HIIT, and a couple of cardio sessions every now and then should definitely be a habit that sticks post-lockdown.
7. That wiping down every machine before and after you use it should definitely stay
It's tough to imagine a time when we didn’t do this in gyms. As you’re wiping down each machine, the thought might have occurred to you of just how many germs get around gym equipment. And now, the thought of never wiping down any gym equipment before you use it makes you feel a little bit sick.
We’ll be keeping the hand sanitiser in our gym bags.
8. The importance of gym buddies
Even if you’re not the type to chat through your gym sessions, sometimes seeing the familiar faces you pass the odd awkward smile at each week in the gym is the kind of comfort you need. And lockdown proved just how important those interactions with familiar faces in the gym are.
Especially when you work from home, heading to the gym after a long day might be some of the only social interaction you have outside of any one-sided chats you might have with your dog.
So, next time you see one of those familiar faces, maybe say hello rather than just awkwardly smiling.
9. The importance of self-love and self-care
If you’re someone who trains for aesthetic reasons, being cut-off from the gym might have been pretty challenging. But it also might have been a self-love awakening you needed. Appreciating your body even if it might not look exactly like when you were training and lifting heavy 5 times a week, is so important for your self-love and self-confidence.
Self-care is a big part of this journey and proved an essential tool for getting through lockdown. Regular self-care sessions should definitely stay post-lockdown madness.
Here are just a few small ways you can de-stress and get in some needed self-care.
10. The importance of nutrition
Even though we’re sure you all already knew how important nutrition was, it’s proved even more important during the pandemic.
Not only is it important to get all your micro-nutrients in to avoid getting sick, but keeping your macro-nutrients up, protein in particular, is so important to maintain muscle.
Getting in a protein shake each day even when you’re not working out is key to avoiding as much muscle loss as possible, and this became more vital information than ever in 2020.
Here are some of our favourite high protein shakes and how you can make them.
Take Home Message
2020 has been a rollercoaster to say the least, but there are so many lessons to be learned and so many things to be grateful for.
So, next time you feel a bit down about the world, think of all the lessons you’ve learned from this experience, and you’ll soon feel grateful for everything you have.
And, it’s almost Christmas and time to kiss goodbye to 2020, get back in the gym and bring on bigger and better things.