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Back to the Gym: Keeping an Exercise Routine Under COVID Restrictions

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With the state of COVID-19 constantly in flux, some places have put cautionary restrictions back in place. One of those places is the gym, where mask-wearing can seem annoying and detrimental to those who simply want to get back into a routine after the fits and starts of the past year and a half.

Having worn a mask while exercising both outdoors and indoors, I can personally speak to how frustrating it can be when all you want to do is enjoy a good, hard sweat. While masks are an understandable precautionary measure, they do make intense, full-throttle exercise very difficult. It’s doubly challenging to participate in activities that limit breathing capacity at baseline, such as Tabata, High Intensity Interval Training and hot yoga.

Even with the inconvenience, I’m grateful that most gyms are at least open to the general public again. And it is possible – even with masks – to get back some semblance of a normal exercise routine. Here are some ways you can exercise while taking COVID restrictions into account:

  • Back to the basics: It might be hard to resist the urge to crank it up on the elliptical or stair master, but as long as the weather is nice, do your cardio outdoors. With ample air and space around you, you won’t have to worry about your mask getting in the way. 
  • Hit the weights: While many of us have acquired dumbbells and/or created an in-home gym during the pandemic, it’s not the same as lifting a little heavier in the gym. Because you won’t be breathing heavily like you would a cardio workout, you can maintain strength and increase muscle mass with a weight set, even while you’re masked up. 
  • Plan ahead: If you prefer to attend fitness classes, book your spot well in advance. Many gyms are operating at a limited capacity, so class space will also be limited. Additionally, planning your exercise in advance can function as an incentive to get to the gym.
Remember that gyms are a (relatively) safe place for those that are vaccinated if they are following proper precautions and restrictions. It might be frustrating, but I welcome the semblance of normalcy that comes with a return to gym life.

Be a health and wellness professional by enrolling in American College of Education's fully online M.Ed. in Health and Wellness Education.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.

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