7 Stages Of Returning To The Gym After A Break

We all know that when it comes to being healthy, consistency is key.

But every so often we end up taking a break from working out for a myriad of reasons; from going on a holiday that involves more pinot and Portuguese tarts than push-ups, bringing a small human into the world or even discovering a fire series on Netflix that is already eight seasons in and needs your immediate attention to the exclusion of everything else.

Eventually though you’ll start getting out of breath walking upstairs, and will be reduced to only bringing in one bag of shopping from the car at a time (my personal minimum is ALL of the shopping in one go). That’s when you realise it might be time to reacquaint yourself with the gym, as painful as that might sound.

Stage 1. Hope

You’ve done workouts before. Heck, you’ve done some epic workouts, maybe you ran a half marathon, or went to Bikram every day for a month, or deadlifted 80kg. You got this, it can’t be that bad what with muscle memory and all that, it’s just the first session back and you’ll take it easy.  

Stage 2. Realisation

Horrible, horrible realisation. You’re drenched in sweat and you ain’t even finished the warm up yet. Suddenly you are filled with impending dread at what the next 40 minutes is going to bring.

Stage 3. Bargaining

Maybe you don’t need to be here. Maybe instead of working out you can just skip breakfast and lunch every day and subsist on steamed broccoli. But you really like breakfast and lunch (as well as being quite partial to chocolate and wine).

Stage 4. Acceptance

You’re already here, you might as well get on with it. Squats, lunges, box jumps…. Or you know, just sitting on the bicep curl machine for an hour, chatting with people you haven’t seen in awhile. Either way, you’re gritting your teeth and grinding through it.

Stage 5. Conclusion

It’s finished. The workout is over. And what do you know, you made it out alive.

Stage 6. Resumption of hope

That hottie at the water fountain just gave you the nod. You do a sneaky ab check in the change room mirror, and if you twist your body just so and the light hits just right you think you might see something. And it feels pretty damn good to be using your active wear for actual exercise, instead of just getting sauce stains on your leggings from when you’re sitting on the couch eating nachos.

Stage 7. DOMS

And it was all going so well. Until you wake up the morning after your glorious return to the gym and realised you’re paralysed. Ok, so not paralysed but the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) are pretty severe. Getting out of bed is hard, getting on and off the toilet is worse and you’re walking like a cowboy with a severe case of chafing.

But you know what? It will get easier. The soreness will decrease. The PB’s will increase. And pretty soon you will actually find yourself looking forward to workouts again.

When she isn’t torturing people in the gym, or patting random dogs, Emma spends her spare time writing for www.tinylovebug.com

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