The sun is shining. The birds are singing. The smells of fresh cut grass and flowers fill the air. The gyms are empty. . .
Not everyone, but the majority of people (at least, in the Northern hemisphere) are chomping at the bit all winter for spring and summer to return. People want to be outside – which is good for our health! We need that Vitamin D! This leads to gyms and rec centers being quite empty!
For those of us who love having the entire gym, or at least the free-weight area, all to ourselves, this is great! There are, however, a couple concerns, the first of which is kind of a obvious to anyone who works in fitness: empty gyms = fewer clients. This might be avoided for general gym members who have year-long memberships, but for in-person trainers this can be a stressful time year.
My next concern was for the clients themselves. Summer barbecues and bonfires aren’t really known for having overly clean food to eat. After days of work and coming home to work on landscaping or projects around the house that were put aside all winter, people don’t want to go to the gym. They want to be outside as long as possible. On the weekends, there are graduation parties and other reasons to get together and spend time in the sun. There are vacations.
Does this sound familiar to you?
I can tell you, this last week, I was slacking in my personal work-outs. I was focused on getting my garden in now that it’s not likely my area get another frost. By the time I was gone cleaning up the yard, weed-whacking, digging out the garden, moving branches, planting the garden, getting rid of old patio stones. . .the last thing I wanted to do was change, drive to the gym, and spend an hour there working out muscles that are already a little sore from a different kind of work and grip the bar with hands that are already tender from the textures different from the weights.
What are you supposed to do? How do you avoid going backwards in your fitness life during this time of year?
Let’s start with whatever you’re doing outside: make sure your form is good. Basic movements that you do in the gym – deadlifts, squats, presses, etc. – are movements of daily living such as picking up bags of soil or fallen branches. Don’t throw out your back putting up a fence or shoveling out a hole for a new bush because you didn’t keep your core tight and started using your back instead of your legs.
This part might be hard for some people to imagine. Are you ready? Body-weight exercises can be done at home with little or no equipment and still benefit you! I’m not a huge fan of doing body-weight exercises for myself; I prefer the weights, but I do write in body-weight work-outs for myself. Sometimes I focus on joint mobility; sometimes I have an iso-day or a plyo-day. You may not bulk like you were trying to add any weight to your back-squat, but you’ll keep your heart health steady and/or improving. If you’re wanting to shed a few sizes, this style of exercise is quite likely to help you!
Do you live near a park? I happen to have a walking trail, a playground, and basketball courts (and baseball diamonds, but that’s harder to play by yourself) within walking distance. It’s not unheard of for me to be found on the swings or working on pull-ups on the tiered bars. I love basketball; at the gym, it’s a cool-down for me. Joining or starting a pick-up game at the park can count as cardio. Go for a walk around a lake or a park or a safe neighborhood.
You shouldn’t feel guilty about not going to the gym religiously as long as you are still taking care of yourself and making it a priority to get some form of organized exercised in your schedule.