Advice for heading back to the gym after some time away


It’s the classic New Year’s resolution, isn’t it? You plan to get healthy, cut out the bad habits such as eating too much junk food and drinking too many sugar-filled carbonated drinks, reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, and stop smoking (if you do). Then you’re going to eat lots of healthy fruit and vegetables and, wait for it, take out a gym membership to get that body perfectly in shape.

Then comes the problem with the gym. You’ve started off fine, gradually building up your fitness and stamina, working out with exercises, getting stronger on the treadmill, and pumping a little iron. Then suddenly, you find, without even necessarily realizing it, that you haven’t been down there for longer than you had thought.

There are a number of reasons why you may have taken a break from the gym. As often as not, it could be because your working life, family life, and social life have taken over your time, so you just can’t fit in your gym sessions. You may want to and keep promising yourself that tomorrow, or next week, you’ll make room in your busy diary for an hour or so to get back into the swing of things. Exercise boosts your sense of wellbeing, and can make you feel really good, positive, and happy, so you may be a little less cheerful if you don’t get a regular workout.

Alternatively – or additionally – you could have sustained an injury, either at the gym or in another situation. Exercising too hard for too long can put a lot of pressure on parts of your body, especially your ankles, knees, and back, and a strain or a sprain can take some time to be resolved. It’s easy then to get out of the habit of going to the gym, and you’ve probably got enough other things to keep you occupied.

Easing yourself back

Whatever the reason for taking time out, you’ll reach the stage where you want to get back into the swing of things and head back to the gym. With your previous positive attitude and work, you may feel that you can slip back into your old routine.

However, take a moment to think before you do that. You will have lost a lot of the muscle you originally built up if you’ve been out of the exercise loop for a long time, so you need to ease yourself back into things. It’s a good opportunity to talk to a trainer, especially if you haven’t before, and get some sound advice about a routine that would suit you getting back to rebuilding your strength and suppleness. You may well find that things are suggested that you didn’t know about your first time round – professional advice is worth its weight in gold, especially if it helps prevent injury.

Support items

The body is a tough machine but, like any machine, it can go wrong. Even if you haven’t suffered from an injury previously, but especially if you have, consider using support items that can help not only prevent injury but also improve your recovery time after a session. Compression sportswear is used by top professional athletes to help them with the normal pain they often get as a result of their exertions and to aid recovery. Compression tights, for example, are available for both men and women and can easily be found at Other useful compression items include shorts, sleeves,supports for the back, and socks. You will know where your pressure points are when you exercise – and they will be in different places depending on the range of physical activities that you do – so you can choose what suits you best to get the most out of your gym sessions.

Achieving peak fitness

You are the one who knows your body best. Your doctor, a physiotherapist, or a trainer can all have insights into it from different perspectives, but you are the one who should be in control.

When you start again after a long layoff through circumstances or injury, reintroduce yourself gently to a range of exercises to get your muscles used to working again. Anything that feels uncomfortable should be left until another session – talk to a trainer to get some further insights and support.

Only you can make decisions as to what level is right as you develop your strength, and you’ll soon find that you’re enjoying your fitness again.