Coronavirus: A Lesson in Health, Humanity, and Hysteria
We are all going to die
Now that we have that out of the way and I have your attention, I’m hoping to talk about a few lessons that I have actually learned from the coronavirus fever (pun intended) sweeping the globe. By now, most everyone on the planet has had their life affected in some way by this new, virulent virus. We’ve taken steps at our North Scottsdale personal training studio to keep equipment and touchpoints clean, and to encourage those who are sick to stay home. Today as I went for a long bike ride after training clients, I took a step back and looked at the situation objectively. A few notable lessons popped out for me.
1. Those who are healthy seem the least concerned
Exercise has been proved time and time again to improve the immune system, reduce stress, and increase longevity. My clients who have been diligent about their health and wellness are still coming into the gym to workout. That doesn’t mean precautions aren’t taken. No one is licking dumbbells or going in for long slow hugs. But I am seeing that, as it was before the coronavirus mania began, people will do what they prioritize doing. If working out and maintaining one’s health was paramount before, it still is now. Everyone is more cautious about personal space, and everyone is doing a much more thorough job wiping down equipment and washing hands, but they aren't frozen by fear.
that's not to say that some people have justifiable reasons to want to scale back. People with compromised immune systems or who are otherwise at high risk are being cautious, but for the rest of us, exercise is a way to stay healthy and fend off whatever comes next after the coronavirus.
2. You are not immortal
Let's look at this as a thought experiment and not an overreaction. Hypothetically, if you were to die from the coronavirus, would you be at peace with the life you have lived? If not, then what are you waiting for? Tying this back to the opening of this post, you may be shocked to learn that life has a 100% mortality rate. It's one of the downfalls of the human condition. If you happen to be one of the 99% of people who survive this virus, you will still perish someday in the future. Whether it's by a helicopter crash a month ago (RIP Kobe), the coronavirus today, or having a heart attack in 40 years, death is the great equalizer. When I stopped to think about this, it made me realize that most of us live life like we have all the time in the world. It's only during a time like this that we are reminded of our mortality and suddenly, we want to do everything we can to survive.
Why do we keep putting things off that bring us life and peace until it's too late? I have had personal training clients who have told me they plan to start "WHEN." WHEN their kid goes back to school. WHEN they have the time to commit to working out 4 days a week. WHEN they retire. WHEN they have another baby. What the hell are you waiting for? This life is not a dress rehearsal. You have one shot. Make this be your wakeup call to make it more meaningful. And not just for fitness, but for your life! Travel! Read! Fall in love! Learn!
Also, there is a difference between social distancing and isolation. Yes, it makes sense to avoid large crowds or cramped quarters, but that doesn't mean living in solitary confinement. Spend time with those you love if you so choose, just be smart about contact. Pick up the phone and call others to maintain connections. Reach out to those who may be vulnerable to see if you could go get them some groceries, or help in some other way. When we have an "every man for himself" mentality, we end up in a situation that leads to hoarding and hysteria.
3. Hysteria is counterproductive
As much as you may feel a sense of accomplishment for the 32,000 toilet paper rolls and gallons of hand sanitizer you have, what you don't realize is that by hoarding, you are making things harder for everyone, even yourself. Let's use another hypothetical. If you stopped to think for a second, you would realize that if you have all the hand sanitizer, then people who are sick may not be able to get any. Which would mean that they will leave their shed viruses all over surfaces that would drive you crazy as you tried to sanitize everything you encounter in the world. If you are avoiding shaking hands now, imagine if a third of the people you meet are out of toilet paper. Coronavirus may be the least of your worries.
With all this being said, that doesn't mean that I won't change should people way smarter than I suggest that I do so. As of right now, there are minimal cases reported in Arizona, and our gym is taking every precaution to create a clean, healthy environment for all of our clients. And yes, things may change in the future, but as for now, all I can do is control the things I can, and continue to live my life.
Ramsey Bergeron owns and operates Bergeron Personal Training in Scottsdale, AZ and has over a decade of experience in the fitness industry. He is a NASM CPT, 8-time Ironman, and former spokesperson for EAS Sports Nutrition. He has been seen in Men's Health Magazine among other periodicals and over 40 million newspapers across the country. He is also an expert contributor to various online fitness articles. He also founded Bergeron Adventure Travel which he uses to motivate clients by preparing them for and leading them on hikes and trips around the world. He has led groups over the Inca Trail in Peru, the Lysefjord in Norway, the Milford Sound in New Zealand, and the W-Trek in Patagonia.