Shift that Lockdown Weight with Manchester's New Socially-Distant Gym Class

What are gym classes really like post-lockdown? I headed down to Hero Training Club to find out!

By Alex Watson | 18 August 2020

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This week I’ve braved at least two lockdown firsts. One being venturing out on the tram, mask on, Lo-Fi beats drowning out the sound of the screeching and my face truly nestled into a book. I’d go as far as to say the experience was pleasant.

As someone who suffers severely from Resting Bitch Face, having my mouth covered all the time means people can’t instantly be offended by my natural state of ‘dirty look’ which is definitely enhanced when I’m zoned out on public transport.

The second was to pull on the leggings and exhaust myself doing burpees to dance music at a Hero HIIT class.

Some of us have spent months doing Zoom workouts, Instagram live classes and not forgetting that daily walk we were granted way back in March. I even have a friend who built a squat rack at the bottom of her garden with old tires from the car she was no longer using in lockdown.

Others have watched the scales get dusty and the protein shaker get shoved further and further to the back of the cupboard.

Whichever end of the exercise spectrum you’ve been on in lockdown, give yourself a pat on the back from me for getting up each day and cracking on – we are living through a horror film at the end of the day.

But with gyms reopening at the end of last month it meant you can shake off Covid cobwebs and get back to your usual, fit self or lose a few of those lockdown pounds we’ve all put on.

Naturally, I think everyone’s pretty worried about getting back to the gym. Will I be able to keep up after a pretty relaxed approach to fitness? There are fewer people in a class so who will I hide behind? Is it even safe to go to a gym now?

I took one for the team and headed down to Hero gym with my good friend and hype-man, Charlotte from Finest Media.

So, what can you expect and what’s this new norm everyone is banging on about?

First of all, you need to arrive literally just as your class starts no more than five minutes before or after to ensure you’re not wandering around aimlessly trying to find your way about.

When you get there you will be greeted with sights we’ve become pretty accustomed to now, hand sanitiser every few metres and little feet shaped distance partitions on the floor.

If you’re after a post-workout protein shake you’ll need to get your order in before the class to avoid queues after. You’ll also be designated a locker after you sign in if you need one.

What about the actual class?

Naturally, it’s a heck of a lot smaller – there were only six people in ours.

I actually found this ideal. If you’ve ever experienced a cramped yoga class and getting a really good view of the arse in front of you in downward dog, you’ll probably be grateful for the reduced capacity too.

Once we’d said hello to the instructor you’re pretty much immediately directed to the cleaning equipment and disinfectant spray before being shown to a two-by-two metre square that becomes your home for the next 45 minutes.

At the start of each class, you’ll be told to get all the equipment you’ll need. So if you’re not sure what weight you’ll be able to carry any more, maybe opt for a light, medium and heavyweight so you won’t need to move about once the class starts.

We dived straight in with the HIIT class in the boxing studio and let me tell you now, my face is still bright red from two days ago.

So things are a bit different, will I be going again?

Absobloodylutely! While I’ve enjoyed more leisurely jogs and swinging my Sports Direct weights around the bedroom I’ve really missed the competitive side to communal workouts.

It’s fun, you push yourself further and work so much harder than you could ever motivate yourself to do in the living room.

It’s also great to look to your right and see your mate – or a stranger – telling you they’re struggling just as much as you with just one wide-eyed facial expression.

Initially, heading back to the gym was a daunting feat and I felt pretty intimidated by the new measures and my lower fitness level.

But group settings lift you up, it’s amazing to be around people again and it feels good to get a well-earnt sweat on.

I’ll be heading back – once my thighs stop burning.

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