THE CORONA VIRUS
Before jumping into this, I want to point out that, not being an expert in world pandemics, viruses or anything that would qualify me as an expert on this subject, there will be no bold claims of what you should do, no finger pointing at those who are making the decisions that are there to ‘manage’ the situation (I do have some opinions, but I also know they are only partially informed).
The reason for this post is because, regardless of anyone’s thoughts, the impact of this virus is undeniable.
Even if you are of the view that this is just a glorified flu or that it only has devastating effects on people that a standard flu might, or anything else in that area, there are others who disagree and there is an active level of response going on both domestically and globally.
So, you can believe what you like, but if your employer tells you that you are to work from home for weeks (or even months) then it is going to affect you.
Anyone who runs a business that relies on travel, tourism, crowds or even just footfall, this is going to have an effect.
The net effect, as has already been seen, will be a damaged economy.
There are already reports of car hire businesses, specialized clothing companies and tourism-based companies looking at whether they will survive the next month.
Again, I have very strong views on this and what might happen next, but this is not the place.
All I’m looking to point out is, regardless of your views, this is going to affect everyone, infected or not.
As a business owner with premises that people frequent, I should be very worried.
But ultimately, as I’ll come to in a minute, that isn’t going to help change anything. And as a service-based business that is here for the wellbeing of the public we serve, that should be and is our priority.
Our model seems ideal
The one positive, on reflection, I take from this is the fact that our model, as we have run things since day one, seems ideal (in comparison to generic gym models).
As you know, we limit the number of people who can use the facility at any given time. There are NEVER huge crowds. We don’t have many surfaces for germs to live on and with the limitation of numbers, we can also keep an eye on what people are using and ensure everything is wiped down properly.
Is it foolproof? Obviously not.
Nothing, short of full quarantine, is foolproof.
But given general health has been given as one of the main elements in combating this thing and that is what we are here for, we are able to provide (as we always have) a heavily contained set up that is of much lower risk for spread of germs than any other facility.
To that end, we have no intention of closing our doors.
We have some ideas that we were working on anyway, that we hope, by rolling out quickly, will make a positive difference regardless of how you are affected. Plus, if government policy causes for a tightening, or we (the coaches) get infected or are exposed, then obviously we will make adjustments for the well-being of everyone.
Things for you to consider
As I mentioned, I am not an expert. No one in this industry is. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but no one reading this is likely to be either.
The experts on this subject are few and far between. Yet “expert opinions” seem to be commonplace.
One of the people I believe you could say is a true expert on the subject is Michael Osterholm.
In some regards, he actually wrote the book on the subject (having predicted this exact scenario years ago).
If you haven’t seen it already and want to hear someone who is truly informed talking on the subject, I’d recommend his interview with Joe Rogan https://youtu.be/E3URhJx0NSw
It’s lengthy and doesn’t deal exclusively with this subject. But the overall theme that we have to learn from this and that it is a wake-up call, is very powerful.
If you do watch, the first 10mins or so, in isolation, give a very depressing view of what is to come. Either watch it all or none, because he very much tries to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation first, but then breaks it down later. (ie pay attention, now I have your attention, here are the facts).
If you don’t have time to watch, some of the takeaways that are relevant are, this is not an “Old Person” issue. Yes, age is a marker that puts you more at risk. But the data for this is primarily coming from China. There, older males in particular, tend to smoke. And it is the smokers that have had the higher fatality rate. Older women in China are much less likely to be smokers and that correlates with the fatalities (ie there are a lot less of those affected dying from it).
Other markers include high blood pressure and the big one being obesity. Not so prevalent in China, but in the US and the UK, that’s going to be more of a concern.
He also makes that point that, many of the things we are being advised to do (use hand sanitisers, wash hands for 20 seconds, be careful with things we touch etc) are all useful for avoiding ill health in general. But in this instance, it will do very little. But still do them. Because being ill from something else AND getting this could then be very problematic.
That’s the same with things like drinking water, particularly warm water (and not iced water). It won’t ‘flush the virus’ as some people have suggested. But it will keep you healthier. Help you boost your immune system and so you will be able to fight it off better naturally.
And that is the bottom line, from what I’ve head from him, other experts and what makes sense based on every other virus out there. The best thing any of us can do is look to stay as healthy as we possibly can.
What to do
Again, I said I would not give advice on this virus. However, if the view is to keep your immune system high, look after your health and leave yourself in the best position possible to defend yourself from this if you do come into contact with it, the advice we have been giving via DCSfit and at Dynamic Core Studios has been on this path for our entire existence.
These are the ones that we feel we continually repeat, yet they get dismissed out of hand. Generally, they are seen as too simplistic and there has to be something more. But I feel much of that is because the priory of most keeps going back to how they look, rather than their health. So, something that looks after your health and well-being often gets dismissed in favour of something that will burn off fat quickly (regardless of the side-effects).
But being prepared to fight off infection is, as Michael Osterholm put it, down to a strong immune system. It doesn’t matter what the infection is. A strong immune system is always going to be a big factor in fighting it off.
So, these things are not just for this, but for life.
Get enough sleep
Lack of quality sleep is probably the easiest way to trash your immune system. That’s not total hours of sleep, but the quality of that sleep. So, passing out drunk for a few hours is not the same as restful sleep. Chemically induced sleep (ie via sleeping pills) is not the same as natural sleep. Falling asleep in front of the TV or whilst looking at your phone, is not going to have the same quality as falling asleep naturally in a completely dark room.
Again, I’m not going to go over old ground. There is a huge amount of detail available on how to improve sleep quality. The thing I’m looking to do here is push the idea of making it a priority, not an aspiration.
This should be much higher on anyone’s list than stocking up on toilet paper or hand sanitiser.
Drink enough water
Again, this is nothing new and is likely to be dismissed as ‘obvious’. But how many people actually drink enough water each day? Based on the data we have from interviewing hundreds of members and clients over the years, it is a very low percentage.
Every function in the human body requires water. There is not one exception. You need sufficient water to function properly. So, if you want to function at your best to do anything, including fighting off a virus, then drink enough water. And for anyone who is active (which should be everyone – see below) 2 litres is not enough. For most people 3-4 litres per day is going to be more correct. Even more if you are bigger in build (more of you to fill).
Particularly here, a strong respiratory system is crucial.
Our recommendations in this area are no different than at any other time. Maybe, if your goal had been to compete in a power-lifting competition or push for a bodybuilding competition or something extreme, then back off on intensity for a while. But ultimately, even in these pursuits, if you caught the flu or any other virus, you’d be out of the game for weeks and would only set you back. Your health and well-being comes first.
Doing simple things like going for a walk is obviously a good start (though if self-isolating, then that’s not going to be an option). But if you have not been infected, we are still going to be recommending things like resistance training.
There are issues here (going to crowded gym environments being a high-risk factor – but I’ll come back to that) however, keep in mind, resistance can be body-weight. You can use anything that has weight as a weight. There is always something you can do.
And if you are stuck at home, either through choice or through necessity, we’ve put together some suggestions you might consider for enhancing your ability to work out at home.
How we (at DCS) intend to help with this, I’ll outline in a minute.
This probably goes without saying. But again, we must go back to the approach many people take versus what is ALWAYS the better option. Too often people just look at calorie deficit, because they want to lose weight. Then come the shake-based diets or simply starvation. Or, if ‘bulking’ just cramming in calories, regardless of quality.
The argument of “it’s too expensive to eat healthy”, I hope has been given a little perspective from this.
Yes, for many people (too many people) this is a reality. But for those who make that claim whilst wearing £100 shoes, designer jackets, paying for extremely expensive concert tickets, subscribing to Sky Sports or heading out to the pub every Friday night, perhaps a re-alignment of priorities is now in order?
Without your health, nothing else matters. You can’t be there for your family, you can’t do your job and this is possibly the biggest wake-up call we’ve had to highlight this.
If everyone had bullet-proofed immune systems, this thing wouldn’t be an issue and all these public events would not be being cancelled, people wouldn’t be being quarantined etc.
The fact is, we don’t. And for those who do, you can still be a carrier to those who don’t. So, the “I’m alright Jack” mentality is not one that helpful right now.
Also, it seems to be a consensus that this thing came from animals initially and that, with many such viruses, poor animal farming and handling has led to many of the issues we are facing. Possibly not this one (again, not an expert) but possibly the next one.
I’m not on the vegetarian or vegan train (though my personal protein choices are limited to fish and eggs) but this is obviously another marker that pushes that ideal forward. My personal view is we are designed to consume meat and therefore, beyond your own moral beliefs, that should remain an option. Again, though, to in depth a discussion for here. But the pursuit of cheap at all costs (even the costs of the animals in question, and to the point where it becomes a health hazard) is clearly not worth the savings.
Therefore, health food sources, free range, organic and raw food sources are always the ideal starting point. Variety is also important, to ensure a full compliment of vitamins and minerals. So, a range of colours in your pallet, especially via vegetables, is of a high importance level.
Again, there are enough words here already. Healthy food choice information is everywhere.
All I’m suggesting is that the choices be based on fuelling your body in its entirety rather than starving it or similar.
And if you are stuck at home, now more than ever, it is worth considering services such as Halliday’s Healthy Dinners – Don’t forget to use DCS10off of a 10% discount on your first order.
Top Up Your Zinc
Another thing I’ve been preaching for a long time is the benefit of Zinc on the immune system. It is one of the few things shown to reduce the recovery time from colds and flus. The reason being, a deficiency in zinc (which most of us suffer from), can have a negative impact on our immune system.
If you start to feel run down, therefore, a boost of zinc could be helpful.
If red meat & shellfish are not part of your regular diet, you may want to look at supplementing in general. And using supplementation to boost your intake, for a few days, if you start to get ill, can massively help your recovery time.
One of the very first reports on dealing with the Covid-19 mentioned the fact that zinc was useful in fighting it off. So, just like any other virus, this seems to be a useful approach.
If you are staying active, I do suggest ZMA. But if not, zinc is the key element.
Important! Zinc within a multivitamin is not the same.
Consider making more zinc rich choices in your food and having supplementation on hand for a top up.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Although I said the number one way to trash your immune system is lack of sleep, in truth it is unchecked stress.
Probably the biggest cause of stress, for most, is lack of sleep. Hence why I put that at the top.
Ultimately, though, anything that causes unmanaged stress is going to have an adverse effect.
Everything listed so far is a stress. Lack of sleep, lack of sufficient water, lack of specific nutrients or lack of conditioning making your body work harder. But much of what causes us stress is in our heads.
This is a personal issue that I feel I’m constantly working on. When I wasn’t getting enough sleep, it was borderline impossible. But these days, I feel it is easier to focus on things and I’m feeling the improvements.
What I’m seeing, though, through the panic buying, the outcry regarding things beyond our control (the actions of other people’s “selfish” behaviours, the governments plans or historical judgement, ie what we ‘should have done’) is causing undue stress for many.
Ultimately, all we can control are our own actions and our reactions. And getting wound up, scared or frustrated is only going to add stress that will work against us rather than for us.
I’d suggest that everyone look to find something that will allow a quietening and stepping back to gain perspective.
Understand that we are all dealing with a situation that hasn’t been felt in our lifetimes (unless you were around during the last world war, in which case you have a lot more insight into human behaviour in these circumstances than I do). And anything new automatically creates fear and fear creates anger, frustration and panic induced actions.
(I tried so hard not to just quote Yoda directly there).
If we truly want to be civilized and work for the betterment of our community, then understanding that people are not always acting rationally, that their actions are borne from fear and therefore, someone grabbing all the toilet rolls or pasta and not considering those who don’t have the resources to bulk buy but who may need the resources more, is not being done on a conscious level.
We can chastise and shame them all we like, but it will only cause further pushback.
But what we can all attempt to do is to take the time to look at how we are reacting. How we are acting. And hope that, by improving on that level, that it spreads faster than the virus (and lasts longer).
So, find your release.
Use meditation apps or find something you YouTube.
Listen to music you know relaxes you or makes you feel good.
Or just find a space you can sit, uninterrupted, and be with yourself for 10 minutes. Breath and reflect. (If you don’t have a specific space, the toilet or shower could be a possible option – unless you have young children, in which case, you are going to need to ask for help).
Whatever you do, keep in mind, stress is your biggest enemy here, not the virus, not other people, but your own personal stress. And, though it can often not feel that way, you are ultimately in control of that.
Our Plans at DCS
As mentioned, we are lucky in that our existing model seems to be better than any other fitness set up for managing risk.
We limit the number of people in the building already.
Our member base is small.
With limited usage, it is easier for us to ensure equipment has been wiped down.
We have very few ‘machines’ that would make things harder to keep on top of.
So, we have no plans to change any of that.
You are already coming into a fairly contained environment with no crowds. And so, where there are always going to be risks of spread, the risk here is a lot lower than most places.
That said, we would be naïve to ignore this entirely.
And so there has been thought put into what we will do going forward. Some contingency plans. Plus, we may be able to stay open, but what do you do if you are confined to your house? And how can we help?
We are more than just a collection of equipment
DCS was always intended to be a community and set up in a way where we can be as supportive to maximise returns on effort as possible.
The reason we have only 7 training slots is so no one has to compromise their workout and we can reasonably keep an eye on everyone who trains at our facility and help out with suggestions, programmes and keep everyone safe.
Over recent weeks, completely unrelated to the current situation, we had been working on a plan to ensure that the assistance we give doesn’t stop within our walls.
We’re working on a filing format for each member.
Within your file we’ll have separate folders for a variety of elements. These will include programmes, body composition reports, notes and movement assessments and, over time, we’ll start introducing personalized videos, tips and so on.
The idea here is, you have everything in one place and we have somewhere we can also drop notifications and updates so everyone can see them (so you are not reliant on subscribing to any social media platform).
We will also be including a specific email address for training related questions. We will answer these in order and drop the responses and advice into your folder.
This way, regardless of membership type, we can ensure we are keeping on top of everyone’s progress as best we can.
Also, it means, if you are on holiday, ill, don’t have the ability to make it to the gym, due to lack of childcare or intense working hours, or (given the current situation) home bound, we can still look to advise and help you move forward.
That could be anything from, if you are ill, giving you some movement or mobility ideas to work on. Helping you with food choices or anything else that will ensure that, even if not perfect, your progress is still forward toward your goals.
We had been working on this with the view of rolling it out in a few weeks. But because this current situation is already having an affect on some people, we are going to push to get this rolling in the next few days.
As already pointed out, it so happens our model automatically puts us in a place that I can see other facilities trying to get closer to. Where other gyms are limiting numbers in classes or cancelling large group activities, we don’t need to do that.
Nothing we do involves huge numbers crammed into the building.
That said, we are not being complacent.
We are considering only allowing members and invited guests into the group sessions (so no random drop ins). We’ll make a decision on that in the coming days. That would also apply to PAYG gym users.
Our cleaning of equipment has already increased in frequency (though members are, in the main, very good at wiping down and cleaning up after themselves). Though again, with there being a limit to how long the germs can stay on a surface and the limited number of members using a vast array of equipment, we are automatically in a better position than most.
Manning the Facility
Our biggest concern is in the fact that, no matter what we do, the odds seem to suggest most of us will get this at some point.
With our current set up, if either myself or Heinrich (or one of our immediate family) come down with this, we could be looking at self-isolation.
If that happens, there is bound to be disruption.
On the positive side of things. If we contract it separately, then there will likely be 2 weeks that will be affected. We’ll still be open. Personal Training and member access will continue. But there may be a restriction on group training.
The worst-case scenario is we are both hit at exactly the same time.
The plus there would be, we should only see one week of disruption and hopefully immunity kicks in for both of us. But the restrictions on the facility would, most likely, be severe.
We are a gym family
Just like with our own families, we want to ensure the best for everyone in our community.
As such, we are hoping the advice above might help focus things on boosting your immune systems and that no one is going to suffer more than a short burst of discomfort (or, ideally, avoid it altogether).
But we are also conscious that we don’t want to cause any unnecessary spread beyond our walls. I’m sure many of you have family and friends that you would be looking to distance from any chance of infection as they are immune compromised, have weakened lungs, high blood pressure or their weight may be a compromising factor.
So, the hope here is to ensure you can continue to look after your health and well-being as best as possible and we can provide assistance in ways beyond a large space and variety of equipment.
Ultimately, what I am confident in is that, this will pass.
And in a month or two, when we are passed the peak, there is a vaccine available (there does seem to be a lot of positive noises that we could see that in the next month or two) and life returns to a more regular pattern, we are looking to ensure everyone in our community feels they have continued to stay focused on their health and well-being and do not feel frustrated by that feeling of ‘being behind’ on their fitness progress.
Most of all, I hope this situation proves as a strong learning tool that puts things into perspective.
Work deadlines, trendy clothes, concert tickets, sports events etc may all feel like they are of the highest importance in your life at any given time. But without your health, you have nothing.
Looking after your health, well-being, stress levels, immune system and so on, should always be top of the priority list.
You may be able to do things to make you look good. Whether it be building a body that looks ripped, getting a makeover, spending a fortune on your hairstyle or your clothes, but ultimately, how you are functioning on the inside will always be the foundation of everything else.
What Now? by Mark Tiffney
So, please, look after yourself.
And we will continue, at DCS, to provide the facility, services and support to the highest level we are capable, to ensure you can make the most of your efforts to do so.
And we’ll look to keep all members and clients of the facility posted on the updates mentioned as we roll them out.