“It’s just great. I can’t put into words how good it feels to be back in the gym.”
Bukhosi Sibanda, from Prestwich in Greater Manchester, no doubt speaks for thousands of gym members across the country on the day that swimming pools and gyms are finally allowed to reopen following lockdown.
Mr Sibanda is a Men’s Physique competitor and fitness model who’s been a member of PureGym in Manchester for 10 years.
“Luckily I’ve got dumbbells at home, so I’ve been able to do basic workouts,” he said.
“But I don’t have a bench, so I’ve just been using a mat. I’ve tried to vary my workout with heavy and light weights, but there just isn’t the variety you can get in the gym.”
Mr Sibanda still misses competition. He qualified for the PCA Men’s Physique British finals last year, and was hoping to compete in the World Finals this October.
That competition has now been postponed until at least May.
But he’s glad to be able to enjoy the social element of returning to the gym.
“It’s so much better for my mental health as well as for my body,” he said.
“Motivation can be very difficult at home on your own. Especially with the little variety of training that I’ve been limited to. That’s been a real struggle.
“So the workouts are more enjoyable, and harder. Plus it’s just great to see people again!”
He says another benefit of getting back to the gym is it makes people “more accountable” for their overall health.
“When you’ve worked really hard in the gym, you feel more inclined to take more responsibility for other things, like following that up with a better diet,” he said.
Perhaps most importantly, given the current pandemic, Mr Sibanda says he feels relaxed and safe returning to the gym.
“The social distancing here works really well, with cleaning stations for the equipment and hand sanitising stations for the members.
“After so long not being able to do something I love, I’m just so glad to be back.”