As the record temperatures (finally) begin to drop and junk boat season comes to a close, it’s never too early to start thinking about… well, next year’s junk boat season. Get your routine moving again with these workout tips from Ultimate Performance gym manager Dhaval Dhruva.
Life has been tough for everyone since the coronavirus pandemic began. Hong Kong has seen some of the strictest, and longest, lockdowns in the world. Normal life was suspended, fitness goals put on hold and healthy diets went out of the window for many people who were largely confined to their homes.
As a result, people’s health and wellbeing — both mentally and physically — may have suffered. Sound familiar?
As temperatures cool and gym memberships are getting some use again, many people are turning their attentions back towards getting in shape and focusing on health and fitness. If you’re one of them, I have put together six steps that you can take today to rebuild healthy habits, feel better and get ready to hit the ground running with your goals.
6 tips to get your workout routine back on track:
1. Formulate a plan
Before your first session back in the gym, get in touch with your trainer to discuss any goals you have in mind for this new block of training. For example, do you plan on booking a holiday later in the year? Do you have a special event, like a milestone birthday, that you would like to shape up for?
Having a specific goal and a target date or deadline to focus on is hugely important and will set you up much better for success than having a nebulous goal like “I want to lose some weight”. Instead, try to be as specific as you can with your goal, for example:
- “I would like to lose 5kg over the next 10 weeks ready for my holiday”.
If you’re not sure how to go about setting a goal, trainers like we have here at Ultimate Performance will be able to help you formulate a SMART goal to help you get the most out of your return to the gym. (SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and within a Timeframe.) This means setting realistic fitness and body goals that you can genuinely achieve within a given time, rather than aiming for something completely unobtainable that will only set you up for failure. Make sure you can hit the ground running as soon as you get through the door!
2. Get moving
If you haven’t had any access to training equipment during the lockdown and have let your fitness slip, now may be a good time to start preparing for the return to the gym. Perhaps you’ve been struggling with motivation or you haven’t been getting outside to walk and increase your daily step count — which is such an underutilised fat loss tool — use this time to start gradually increasing your activity.
There are lots of popular hiking routes, such as The Peak, Dragon’s Back or Sunset Peak, and for cycling enthusiasts, the Tai Po Waterfront or the New Territories Cycle Track Network are great routes to explore and get you back in the saddle.
A good way to prevent the dreaded ‘DOMs‘ (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) from hitting back harder than ever when you first begin exercising again is to use this time to do mobility work and stretching. You can also slowly build up with some bodyweight training in the comfort of your own home.
3. Start tidying up your nutrition
The lockdowns have been tough on all of us, and many people will certainly have indulged in a few more “cheat” foods and alcohol. If this sounds like you, the next few weeks are an opportunity to get ahead and start by doing a “reset”. Some easy wins you can start to implement include getting in a serving of protein at every meal, making sure half of every plate is filled with vegetables, hitting a water target each day and prioritising healthy fats, such as nuts and avocados. Building in these healthy habits now will help you get right back in the swing of things.
4. Keep your eyes on the end goal
Time passes quickly! Don’t use a date in the distant future as an excuse to avoid making the changes you need in your life now. Every new day, week and month is a new opportunity to progress and inch closer to your goal. This is the perfect time to start planning your new post-lockdown routine and making fitness a priority in your schedule.
These past few years have been highly stressful for everyone and collective stress is very real, even if it is subconscious. Returning to the gym means a new kind of stimulus on the body and, like any new stimulus, that involves stress. It’s why it’s more important than ever to prepare your mind and body for a new challenge by reducing your general day-to-day stress levels. A great place to start is to create a clear distinction between work and rest times. This might mean starting your morning with a stretching routine or going for a walk.
An evening routine is equally important, so try turning off the TV to read a book or take a bath, making time for meditation or getting back to an old hobby. Getting healthy habits locked down now will mean you’re more likely to make the most out of every gym session and get the very best return on your investment in get fit and healthy.
6. Get your sleep back on track
Sleep has been a major casualty of the on-off lockdowns for many people. This time is the perfect opportunity to start getting back into a better routine as we continue our path towards normality.
Get into the habit of consistent sleep and wake times, reducing blue light exposure in the hours before bed and restricting consumption of things like wine and coffee. Not only will your sleep benefit, but you will also likely find your work productivity goes through the roof, too!
Dhaval Dhruva is the gym manager and senior personal trainer at Ultimate Performance Hong Kong Gym.