Gyms – How to get back in the swing.

Gyms are back!! Slowly around the country gyms will be dusting off the benches, turning on the machines, and opening back up with several Government restrictions easing for these facilities.

As an Exercise Physiologist, gyms are our ‘office’ – The team at Absolute Balance are all looking forward to getting back into these centres for both our rehabilitation clients and our own fitness and health.

We understand though that often it is so much harder to get back into the gym if you have had a lengthy break. Like some of our rehabilitation clients that have had their memberships put on hold – you may be in the process of recovering from an injury, outgrown the home gym you acquired in the last few months, or have decided that a gym membership is the best way to make health your priority. Whatever it may be, here are a few tips on how to get back to the gym and what to expect.

1. Expect a decrease

Regardless of whether you are a runner or a weightlifter – time off from exercise means that you will lose some of your capabilities.  This means that you may need to start at a lower weight or shorter duration.

The good news is that you can also achieve your goals quicker than it took for you to reach them in the first place thanks to muscle memory.

  1. Don’t rush it!

It can be frustrating knowing that you are not lifting the weights you once were or running as fast as you know you can, but you need to be patient. Work with the strength you have now and know that with consistency you will get back to where you want to be. By pushing this from your first session back, you run the risk of injury and will unfortunately need more time out of the gym! This applies to rehabilitation following an injury.

  1. Ease in and expect discomfort

Don’t try and do all of the exercises you know at once. By easing in this will allow your body time to adjust to the new stimulus and then you can gradually go back to your normal workout over time.

If you are getting back to the gym after a long break, you will most likely be feeling some soreness the next day. Once you start to get back into a routine, over the course of a few weeks this recovery will start to become faster. Remember to always warm-up and cool down. This is now even more important after a lengthy time off.

  1. Take those rest days!

Recovery is also a large part of being active. When you take a ‘day off’, your body is working to repair and refuel itself after the work you have done. This also helps you to be realistic about your frequency at the gym, allows you to have balance and to avoid the dreaded burnout.

Another useful tip is set some SMART goals and identify what motivates you to exercise. This can be analysed and applied using my previous blog on Self-determination theory –

If you would like more information on managing your return to the gym, Contact Absolute Balance by mail


Michael Buswell
Senior Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)



Bruusgaard JC, Johansen IB, Egner IM, Rana ZA & Gundersen K. (2010). Myonuclei acquired by overload exercise precede hypertrophy and are not lost on detraining. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107, 15111– 15116.

Vaile, J., Halson, S. & Graham, S. (2010). Recovery review: Science vs. practice. Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning, Suppl. 2, 5–21.