After months of being stuck at home because of the pandemic, most of us began venturing outdoors again and started working out. Unfortunately, this also led to new fears and injuries.
“The gym can be a scary place,” said Charles Kim, a personal trainer at Fitness Formula Clubs (FFC) in Chicago. “In addition to people’s concern about pandemic safety, new or returning folks may feel a little intimidated.”
Images of amateur athletes and body builders doing intense workouts can be a deterrent for the average person. Additionally, in an effort to get back to normal activities, many may try to do more than what their body is ready for, leading to injuries. For those with IBS and other digestive issues, the fears may double: What if the workouts trigger cramping and sudden diarrhea? What if I pass gas?
Fear not, says Kim. Despite the many ideas we may have of gyms, Kim assures us that most gyms are focused on keeping their members safe. Many of them, like FFC, are taking extra steps to reduce any risk of disease transmissions. Every machine is cleaned multiple times a day; gym mats and floors are constantly wiped down with sanitizing cleaners; and masks are required for everyone.
“We’re here to help you focus on your workouts,” he added.
The benefits of going back to exercising are clear. Regular exercise reduces stress, staves off depression, and helps improve the immune system. For people with IBS,
low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can help reduce the symptoms, according to a 2018 study conducted by an international consortium of researchers. Kim agrees with the research, seeing first-hand the improvement his clients have enjoyed.
Kim understands how hard it is to get out to the gym, especially in a time when so many are still working from home. “They just haven’t done any types of exercise since the pandemic began,” explained Kim. “Going from being sedentary to suddenly working out is not easy and could also lead to injuries, so it’s best to start slow and build up.”
The first step can be something as simple as going for a brisk 30-minute walk. “That's gonna start reminding your body muscles what it’s like to move briskly.”
Building an exercise routine is important, said Kim. Having a regular workout schedule is a great way to focus on your health.
Personal trainers can also help first timers build their exercise routine and reduce injuries. To avoid injury and bad habits, Kim suggests going to see him or other trainers at your local gym.
“Get someone to help you out,” says Kim. “There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.”
Kim adds that personal trainers can help develop a workout that fits each person’s body’s needs and restrictions, emphasizing that people of all body shapes, sizes and age can benefit from a personal trainer.
“Most people, especially those who haven’t worked out in months, may push themselves too hard in the beginning, causing injuries. A personal trainer can help reduce that risk by reminding the body how to move correctly or use the equipment the right way.”
Kim adds that the reason he became a personal trainer is seeing the personal growth of so many of his clients, including those with IBS. “Transformation is the biggest thing, it’s the whole point I got into personal training,” says Kim. “Seeing people starting to progress and feel better, whatever their goal was, and work towards that goal, it’s always a nice sense of achievement.”
But, you may still wonder, what if I pass gas in front of my trainer’s face? Kim has seen (and heard) it before, but he passes it off as just part of the job. “It happens, I’m not going to lie,” he admits, “I just kind of keep going as business as normal to make people feel more comfortable. At the end of the day, passing gas is not as important as doing workouts regularly to improve your health.
“Don’t take it too seriously. At the end of the day, people get really fixated on goals and things like that. Just enjoy the process.”