Saturday, March 7, 2020

COVID-19 Tsunami, Gym Leave, A Lesson in Limberness

Working at a hospital, I am up to my crown chakra in COVID-19 preparations. Just like during the strike, most of my normal job functions have gone out the window and I am on multiple conference calls and in meetings every day in preparation for the tsunami of ill patients who are headed our way. It’s a grim time. I’ve furloughed all of our Information Desk and Emergency Department volunteers for their safety and protection, and it’s looking like I may end up having to postpone the annual Volunteer Appreciation party. I was so exhausted after my work week on Friday I could barely manage a hot shower before collapsing on the couch and falling asleep. I absorb the emotions of those around me very easily, and taking in all of the hyper-nervousness and tension has sapped my energy.

Normally, I would keep my anxiety and creeping depression at bay by going to the gym and doing a lot of heavy lifting, but, to my deep sadness and angst, I have had to put a stop to the gym for the time being. It was a heartbreaking, tear-rendering decision, but in the end, I had to conclude that it is the most responsible thing to do right now. In the best of times, gyms are the ninth circle of hell from an infection control standpoint, and we are at the epicenter of a pandemic. I am at elevated risk because I work in a hospital, and there is a real potential for me to become infectious and not know it, thereby possibly infecting the elderly or immuno-compromised members of the gym, of which there are a fair number. I tried every justification in my head to avoid coming to this conclusion (I'll be really careful! I’ll wash my hands after every set!), but in the end, I had to conclude that it is not a risk worth taking at this time. I hate it, I really hate it, and the second I can get back in there I will, but for now I’m having to find alternatives.

I ordered a weight bench and a full-length mirror from Amazon and went to our local sporting store to pick up some kettle bells and dumbbells to supplement what I already had at home. The mirror hasn’t come yet, but the weight bench arrived a few days ago, and I really like it. It’s a solid piece of equipment and I’m able to do a lot on it. I’ve been doing weighted squats using a mirror from our hallway, which isn’t ideal, but it at least allows me to check to make sure my knees aren’t collapsing in. I’ve been doing as much as I possibly can with barbells, kettle bells, and body weight exercises. I’m getting a full hour in on each workout and feeling tired, sweaty and sore afterwards, so it’s doing something. It’s not as good as the gym, but I’m trying to be scrappy and creative and find ways to make it work and at least maintain some of my progress. The one bright point in all of this is that I don’t have to wrangle myself into a sports bra before my workouts. This is America, after all, and I’m at total liberty to flop about freely in the privacy of my own dang home.

The other bright point is that this morning I went to a beautiful park with my friend/coworker to do an outdoor workout—something I would never normally do on my own. This woman is well over six feet tall and an athletic beast, and she kicked my ass into next Sunday. For two hours, we did stair running, (the up-kind, a total nightmare), push-ups on logs, overhead presses with driftwood, and multiple squats, among other things. It’s all sort of a blur, to be honest, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to walk in few hours. But it was a beautiful, overcast day and the park was full of trees and ferns and chirping birds, and families were out with their sweet little children and their grinning dogs and there were many sailboats on the water. It was very healing to be surrounded with trees and to feel my feet on the soil. I deepened my bond with my friend, learned some new moves, and left feeling uplifted, which I was in desperate need of after the week I’ve had. It was a good reminder that through all of this, the world goes on. Nature continues to nature, Spring is beginning to push little budding tongues of flowers through, and the sea keeps rumbling forth, oblivious to our worries. And maybe this temporary leave of absence from the gym will be good for me. Maybe I have gotten a little too rigid and locked into a routine. Maybe it will be good to expand a little, to come to understand that there are endless ways to move our bodies and be physical in the world, and that I am capable of learning many more of them without the security blanket of a gym and a trainer.

Speaking of the sea, enjoy this wonderfully overblown sea ballad by Billy Joel. There is nothing I love in the world more than a good old-fashioned over-blown sea ballad, so this one is right up my alley.

--Kristen McHenry


Carolyn said...

Totally love this post, because I can relate. Came to the same conclusion this week about our local gym (germ petri dish). I think it's important to reflect and get creative, which you have done! Good luck in the coming weeks! said...

Great post, Kristen. I guess we all in our own special way have to become recluses for a while. Hopefully a short while it will only be. Meanwhile, I really enjoy the video. It's not one I've ever seen before, and I'm definitely a Billy Joel fan!


Doug Booth said...

Nice to make your acquaintance, Kristen - look forward to your posts to come! (ps - I'm a "fast typist", but not a "good" one!)

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