'A very honest recap of what happened when I returned to the gym after 4 months of inactivity.'

I have a confession to make. 

I was that smug person who kept saying "I just can't wait for the gyms to come back," in the peak of Sydney lockdown, despite not being particularly good at fitness.

And today, as we're going on two weeks back in the real world, I have an apology to make to all who copped my insufferable complaining. 

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You see, I love the vibes of the gym. I'm enthusiastic about booking different classes a week early. I love buying new activewear and making protein smoothies.

I'm not as fast or strong as other gym-goers, but I like to think I have the spirit. 

Well, the spirit can only get you so far. 

Over the past two weeks, I've managed a whopping *four* gym sessions, and I thought I'd recap my long-awaited return. Because things just haven't been as dreamy as I imagined on my daily strolls. 

In Sydney's lockdown, I became well-acquainted with the great outdoors. I got to know my neighbourhood very well by foot. I went on a few ocean swims here and there. I even fit in a yoga session a few times a week. 

But that is where my training ended. 

Strenuous exercise wasn't in my lockdown repertoire and I didn't think too much of it until I walked into the gym on the first available Tuesday for a boxing class.

And it very quickly became apparent that I had not used my chest muscles (or biceps, or back) for four months as a minimum.

I mean, it feels like a cop-out to say I used any muscles in lockdown, but I walked a few hills here and there, so my legs weren't fully out of practice.

My boxing instructor informed us that face masks are compulsory in classes, which, don't get me wrong, is great, we love taking care of the public health, but also this would be a whole new challenge. 


I made that discovery in our warm-up burpees. 

Picture something like this, but with a very red face, half covered by a mask. Joyful.

I don't know how, but it really seemed like everyone else had been attending the gym all along. Can someone let me know: was there an underground gym I wasn't aware of? Where was my invite?

I struggled my way through the warm-up, regretting skipping out on any "high intensity" training before we hit the bags. And oh boy, did that HURT.

Apparently it takes two weeks of inactivity for your body (or cardiovascular health, to be specific) to get a little rusty. Pffffft. Try 15.

Despite contemplating ducking off early through the whole class, I stuck it out, reminding myself that I couldn't send a selfie to my mum (who is also trying to get back into the gym) if I didn't even make it all the way through. 

Does it even count if you don't text your mum to let her know? 


Filled with endorphins, I concluded that it was well worth it. 

That was until four months' worth of muscle pain kicked in the next morning and I had to cancel the next three days of classes I'd lined up. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Me in bed the next morning, feeling so sorry for myself. 

A full week later, just as I thought my muscles might be recovering, I braved The Grid. A.K.A. circuit training. 

And on a sprint day, lucky me.

This time, I thought I'd come prepared: no, not by waking up with plenty of time to have a nutritious and filling breakfast (don't be silly!), but by downing a glass of water with my birth control, a caffeine tablet, and an iron supplement as I was leaving the house. 

It was an 8.50am class, so I shouldn't have much of an excuse, but I overslept and needed a kick of energy to get me through. 


So, as you might imagine: poor cardiovascular health in a sprint class, a caffeine tablet, and a competitive spirit were not the brightest combination for 8.50am on a Monday. 

Behold: The Grid.

About three quarters of the way through my workout, I had to pause. 

Was I going to throw up right here, right now? On this same grid that I rolled my ankle on when I joined the gym months ago? (you can read that fun story over here btw).

The answer was no. This grid had seen enough embarrassing moments from me, and after pulling back my effort for the final stretch, I escaped, stomach intact. 

And thus began my return to the gym. 

Since then I've returned for some boxing (still hurts the second time round) and yoga, which was a whole lot more my tempo, and god I missed it. (Okay, I know I said I wouldn't, but let me be insufferable for a moment.)

I missed saying hello to trainers, getting dressed in cute activewear and leaving completely exhausted, filled with so many good endorphins. 

I didn't miss the pain, but what can you do. Here's to a return to semi-normalcy and many more red faces.  

For more from Emma (yes, braggy gym selfies included) you can follow her on Instagram @emma.gillman.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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