How To Return To The Gym After COVID-19

Gianni Subba wraps his hands in blue wraps

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for gym-goers, but fortunately, martial arts facilities have slowly begun to reopen.

As restrictions are lifted, athletes in countries all over the world are returning to normal training routines.

If your gym is set to reopen, here are 10 ways to safely reimmerse yourself into your training routine at the dojo.

#1 Start Slowly

Thai mixed martial arts pioneer Shannon Wiratchai trains at Tiger Muay Thai

It can be tempting to go all-in as soon as the gym doors open, but you don’t want to hurt yourself – or anyone else – during the first few weeks. You should start drills slowly and gradually progress into sparring.

As for exercises, keep them simple in the beginning and aim for lower repetitions. Pay attention to your body during your training and be honest with your limits.

#2 Regain Your Flexibility

Angela Lee stretches her neck at United MMA in Hawaii

Your body might feel a bit stiff from sitting home all day, every day. After all, muscles and joints tend to lose their flexibility when not activated.

You don’t have to wait until the gym opens to prepare your muscles and joints. Get into a good routine of stretching every day to slowly regain your flexibility and range of motion. This way when the gym doors do open, you’ll be ready to rock – or at least not be as stiff as one.

#3 Work On Your Cardio

Eduard Folayang and the members of Team Lakay run on a trackin Baguio City

If you haven’t been doing much cardiovascular training lately, you’ll notice a decrease in your performance on the pads. Don’t stress over this. It won’t take long before you are back to doing 50 rapid-fire kicks on the pads.

Start jogging or go for bicycle rides to build up your cardio. Remember to start slowly and only push when you have done a couple of sessions and feel comfortable with your current conditioning level.

#4 Get Proper Rest

Person sleeping in bed

You will catch your body off guard if you go from zero to 100 in just a couple of days. Make sure that your body adjusts to your training routine by getting proper rest between sessions.

Pay close attention to your body and give it at least 24 hours of rest until you return to the gym. If you had a killer workout and feel sore, you might need to double your rest time.

Learn how to self-massage the sore areas, and don’t forget that diet plays a big role in your recovery phase, which gets us to our next point.

#5 Monitor Your Diet

ONE Women's Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee eats a salad and drinks a smoothie at Evolve MMA

These last couple of weeks might not have been filled with eating the healthiest foods, but it’s never too late to turn your eating habits around.

You can start by cutting down on excessive salt and sugar. Another easy way to get back on track is to stop drinking sodas and juices and instead stick to water.

Also, make sure you get enough vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber to fuel your body and set yourself up for success in the gym. A functional nutritional plan includes a diet balanced with healthy fats, protein, and carbs.

#6 Practice Good Hygiene

Even if your government has started to lift COVID-19 restrictions, it’s important to keep up with personal hygiene habits. Make sure you keep your hands and feet clean by using alcohol gel or wipes before and after training.

Keep practicing social distancing and avoid places with a lot of people. The fewer risks you take, the less likely it will be that gyms have to remain closed.

#7 Think Long-Term

Tiger Muay Thai Head Coach George Hickman speaks with rIka Ishige after a training session

If you have a strict and vigorous training regimen, it might be hard to maintain over a long period of time.

Instead of going overboard, think long-term when it comes to your training. When you have set up healthy habits, you can try to tweak them by adding or removing things and seeing how your body reacts.

In the end, it’s your life and body, so experiment to find what works for you and your lifestyle in the long run.

#8 Start A Routine

ONE Championship strawweight contender Stefer Rahardian performs a push-up

We all need structure and routine to excel in our lives, and the same can be said for your training. Get into a good routine to boost your performance at the gym and reach new levels.

We all know how adequate sleep benefits you as a martial artist. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will put you in the fast lane and make it easier for you to plan your day.

#9 Set Goals

ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy

Why do you train? Is it to become stronger? Have more energy? Prepare for a specific event? Regardless of your ambitions, it’s important to have goals to work toward.

You don’t have to have lofty ambitions, but it’s important to reach beyond what you perceive as your limitations. You will be surprised by what you can achieve with time, proper goals, and the right mindset.

#10 Have Fun

A person smiles while training Muay Thai at the old Juggernaut Fight Club

The COVID-19 pandemic has made life challenging for everyone, but we have also gained a new perspective. Things that we took for granted now feel like a luxury, and we cannot wait to get back to training and living life as usual.

As gyms open and restrictions ease around the world, do not forget to enjoy the process and soak in these moments!

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