Thinking of heading back to the house of pain after 6 weeks of hanging about in post-quake Christchurch? Has your gym just reopened and in an effort to get some normality back in your life you feel some routine self-flagellation fitness would help? All I can say is don’t rush it, and there’s good reason for that.

After about six weeks of being shut to assess or repair damage some Christchurch gyms are reopening. The council recently opened up two of their gyms to the public – Pioneer and Jellie Park. Unfortunately the other two (Centennial and QE2) are a long way off reopening and in fact there’s a possibility the damage is so severe they might have to be rebuilt.

So the reopening of gyms has meant that amateur gym goers like myself are planning their return and it comes with a caution – don’t push it too hard. Even for people who have been maintaining some semblance of fitness it can be a bit of a shock to the system when you finally return to a systematic workout that fires you into the training zone for 30 minutes or more.

I’ve overworked it before and it can hit you pretty hard when you realise you’ve overdone it. You feel a sudden loss of energy, get the shakes and very quickly start to feel nauseas. At that point it can sometimes be too late to avoid actually throwing up but if you sit down with your head between your knees, or feet elevated above your head you can sometimes avert it.

The best advice for anyone returning to the gym after a period away, say longer than three weeks, is to take it easy.

  • Start light. Give your body time to re-adapt. Add weight progressively.
  • Eat. Get back into your diet. Your muscles need protein for recovery.
  • Think positive. Your strength will come back faster compared to a total beginner. Muscle memory will help you.
  • Focus on finishing your workout. Even if it’s a bad workout, finish it. Persistence is the key to success.

Even though my gym has been destroyed and I’m wandering around Pioneer Leisure Centre like the new kid at school, it is great to be back and I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. It was one thing I really missed post-quake simply because there’s nothing quite like a good workout to shake off the stress and I think a lot of us needed that. But the council have done a great job to get their facilities up and running again, and it’s great seeing some of the friendly faces from Centennial and QE2 showing up at Pioneer.

I did blog a while back about QE2 gym being the best gym in Christchurch and sadly now that it’s closed indefinitely I guess it can’t claim that title but the other council-run gyms are just as good. In fact, some have newer equipment, like the built-in TV screens on the bikes (bring your own headphones) and new hand weights. And now the boil-notice has been lifted on water, it’s once again available (bring your own water bottle).

My only hope is that with 4 gyms becoming two that they don’t become too congested. The CCC have put a hold on new memberships and casuals for now but it remains to be seen how tight things get. I’ll apologise in advance if I step on your toes while reaching for a gym ball!

Happy gyming everyone!

Warning for Christchurch gym users