Back To Class | What To Expect On Your Return
I had the intro to this article all written in my head just a couple of weeks ago when I started to plan my return to fitness classes. ‘As we ease out of lockdown….’ it was meant to begin. And then of course we were all told to take a step back and rethink our daily lives once again.
I don’t mind telling you all, I sat with baited breath waiting for Nicola Sturgeon to close the fitness classes and gyms again; cup of tea resting unwittingly on my covid curves! It was a huge relief to know that we were all able to cautiously move forward with our fitness, another step into the ‘new normal’.
I know it may be seen as a slightly biased point of view, given my long-standing relationship with Live Active as their press agency, but I have been genuinely concerned with the negative impact of lockdown on people’s physical and mental health. Like so many of you, I started with a bang, following LAL’s At Home Hub for ideas, bouncing around my living room to Kirsty’s videos.
And then about July time it just started to wear off – I was a bit done and needed the routine of ‘going to the gym’ or ‘booking in for a class’. I missed the camaraderie of my fellow fitness friends and the motivation of the instructor commanding us all to get our squats lower still. I never thought I’d see the day but the truth is, I missed leaving my house and going to my place of exercise!
I was one of the members who chose to keep my membership frozen during lockdown and it felt blooming brilliant last week when I clicked on that ‘reinstate my membership’ link! Quite apart from getting my own sense of wellbeing back, I know just how tough it’s been on LAL commercially and it feels good to be supporting the work that they do right now.
I am fortunate to be in a position where I can do some fitness in the house or out and about, but the reality for some of the more vulnerable people in our communities is very different. These people rely on LAL’s wellbeing team to help them with their mental and physical health and the idea of being able to support the wider community’s wellbeing is really humbling – especially after the year we’ve all had.
With all of that said, there was a wee voice at the back of my head asking if an exercise class is where I wanted to be. Covid numbers are rising and restrictions are being tightened rather than eased. Would this be ‘safe’? For me – and I can only talk about my personal circumstances – the benefits outweighed my concerns and I made the decision to book into a BodyPump class, knowing that if I felt uncomfortable at any stage, I could cancel or indeed, leave early.
All sessions must now be booked in advance. This allows LAL to control the number of people in attendance and works with their Test and Protect system that you’ll go through on arrival. Members are given priority and can book two weeks in advance. Non-members can book a week in advance. You can find out more on their booking page here >
It was really easy! Members get a pin on reinstating their membership which allows them to login and see classes up to 2 weeks in advance. The booking system is really clearly laid out and simple to follow - I promise even the most un-techy of you will manage!
ARRIVING AT BELL’S SPORT CENTRE:
In order to provide a safe and welcoming fitness offer, LAL has moved all classes in Perth to the courts at Bell’s Sports Centre. This has allowed them to spread the gym equipment into the hall at Live Active Rodney, ensuring both venues offer as much space as possible.
The door has moved, to allow a one-way system to operate – it’s really well signposted so please don’t worry about getting lost. I have no sense of direction at all and even I managed it!
Reception is inside the main arena and again and as you’ll probably expect, my friendly welcome came from behind a screen! I was checked against the list and my info was recorded as I swiped in. It was really quick, and far less intrusive than I’ve experience of elsewhere – and of course the sensation of space that you have under the iconic domed roof of Bell’s is incredible. It was so good to be back!
ARRIVING IN CLASS:
I attended BodyPump – my all-time favourite class – and the initial difference was that it was all set up for participants meaning you only touched the weights and step at your own station. Each station was set into a 2 metre square meaning you were really spread out.
I arrived in my exercise gear and had my own water bottle with me so it was a simple case of choosing a step and waiting for the class to start. That gentle hum of chatter that you’re used to hearing at the start of a class picked up quickly with regulars waving to one another as the friendly atmosphere of Les Mills at LAL began to slowly re-emerge.
Kirsty appeared atop a higher stage than you’re used to seeing her on at Rodney so for those spread out into the edges of the court, everything was still visible. “Good morning” she boomed, “My goodness it’s early! It’s so great to see you all.”
She gave us a run-down on the new system for extra weights, reminded us that there was no water to top up from and encouraged us all to take things easy as we eased back into it. It was good advice and I decided there and then to go with small weights for the duration of the class.
She bent down, turned on the first track and as the bass pumped out of the speakers, we were back exactly where we’d left off!
PARTICIPATING IN CLASS:
Apart from the fact I am not as fit as I was pre-covid, the class was exactly the same! Kirsty gave us LOTS of options to ensure we were all easing back in gradually. For a couple of tracks I used the bar on its own, with no weights at all, and although it felt odd at first, I’m really glad I did. It let me feel my way and gain a sense of where I could add to and what needed most work – all be it, my thighs were still on fire after that leg track!
The most striking differences for me were no mats for press ups (my knees are super-boney!) and just leaving everything where you’d found it at the end. Weights and bars were placed on the floor to differentiate between the stations that had been used and those that hadn’t been touched. A great example of the simple systems that are in place to keep you safe.
I LOVED it! I felt – well, pumped! It was so good to be back, to hear Kirsty’s words of encouragement bellowing out from the stage, reminders that we were ‘nearly there’ keeping you going as the burn kicked in. You just don’t get this at home – there’s none of that connection between instructor and participant when you’re watching YouTube. Yes, I was very grateful to see the friendly faces of instructors I knew popping up in my social media feed over April and May, but nothing beats being there in person.
I do have some tips, which again, are my own personal experience, and I hope you find them useful!
- Remember to book as far in advance as possible. There were some classes already fully occupied when I went on to book – and please remember you also need to book your gym slot at Live Active Rodney now.
- Take extra water. I’m always thirsty and there’s nowhere to top up your bottle. If you’re a person who drinks a lot in class, take two bottles with you!
- LAL are encouraging you to take a yoga mat for your knees and I’d say make sure to do this. All of the main equipment you need is there but if you like a wee bit of padding, you’ll need your own. I used my sweatshirt!
- Familiarise yourself with some of the techniques for the class your attending – it had been so long since I’d done a clean-press I had forgotten what I was doing. You can find some ‘HOW TO’ videos over on the Les Mills website here > and for other classes, check out Kirsty's How To series on Live Active's You Tube channel. These show good technique for moves used in many classes.
- Relax! LAL have been working really hard to make everything safe and secure – all you need to do is turn up, follow the rules, and enjoy yourself.
- Read LAL's what to expect leaflet > or watch the video below.