Since March 2020, people all over the world have endured an unprecedented period of isolation and physical distancing – certainly unprecedented within this generation. But like every challenging situation, we emerge with lessons learned. What is it that we can take from the Covid 19 pandemic?
In our second episode of “The Fight Coach, the Psychotherapist and the Gym Momma”, we sat down to discuss the positives and the negatives of the Covid-19 pandemic. We arranged the discussion into 3 sections – the personal, the effect on clients & society at large. While we spoke of both good and bad, we really wanted to focus on the lessons that we can learn moving forward, which of course, can require a liberal helping of optimism.
Our hopeful optimism towards the future is of course not in any way trying to play down the tremendous loss of life and grief suffered by hundreds of thousands of families worldwide. This has been a global tragedy that will scar society for a generation and our condolences go out to anyone who has lost loved ones during this time.
The Personal Effects
Our initial discussion was around how the experience of lockdown and isolation affected us personally. Marlene talked about how, as a social character and a hugger, she found the severe reduction of the company of friends to be difficult, while the worry of managing bills for the business (now all but shut down) was also very challenging. On the flipside, she enjoyed the copious amounts of extra time to tend the garden, spend quality time with family and immerse herself in a mad array of books and online courses.
James too talked about missing the daily social interactions of working life but felt a huge gain from being able to “slow down” and take stock of what’s really important in life. He also learned that his technophobia was partially cured when he learned how to master Zoom conferencing while completing some academic project work.
Personally, my negatives were based on a loss of momentum towards coaching/competition goals. As a fight team, we were just about to get under way with a busy run of events, having spent the previous 4 months in a developmental phase. The lockdown came just as we were on the starting blocks for our season and that momentum will take quite an effort to rebuild again. Apart from that, I’ve found the lockdown to be highly productive and calming. A number of projects I struggled to find time for are getting struck from the todo list and the ability to recharge the batteries was very welcome.
The effects we noticed on clients
All 3 of us were unanimously of the opinion that social disconnection has negatively affected our clients with regard to motivation – particularly for working out. While everyone has done their best to stay strong and determined throughout, there’s simply no substitute for positive peer pressure within a group training environment. Homeschooling and endless video conferencing for work compounds the stress and frustration of isolation. However, it has been heartwarming to see and hear how anxious our clients are to get back to training at SBG Cork. As a community, our tribe have made it clear that they value the atmosphere and vibe that our tribe has come to possess. For many, the loss of regular gym access has been the impetus to re-evaluate life goals and refocus on new targets when we all emerge from this enforced hibernation. It has also been inspiring to see how resourceful everyone has been, whether it be adapting to online workouts, engaging with social media group pages to keep the energy going or just reaching out to each other to keep one another’s’ spirits high.
The effects on society at large
Now warmed up with our first 2 rounds of discussion, we took off with a preponderance of philosophical musings pertaining to the world at large. Influenced by her recent online study of economics, Marlene alluded to the negative fiscal consequences for countries all over the world. Borrowing a phrase from David McWilliams, she talked about how this “Pancession” looks likely to affect job losses, company closures and austerity, while a return to normality will be slowed by a fear of the unseen assailant of the lungs. James spoke of his disappointment in the perpetuation of negativity and blame, particularly on social media, while I was equally perturbed by the prevalence of misinformation and bull$#1t.
When we charged ourselves with finding the silver linings, our discussion descended down many rabbit holes, for which I have linked numerous articles and sources below. Marlene bounded through her findings of innovations that resulted from historical pandemics, including the birth of vaccines, the recognition of blood types, the development of sewerage and clean water infrastructure among many other forward leaps in civilisation. She posited that perhaps our previous underfunded health systems may now get some much needed attention and perhaps, as a society, we may relearn to value simple pleasures, like hugging loved ones and our freedom of movement – things which we’ve taken for granted for so long.
James pointed out that we should take encouragement from the fact that there was a real sense of solidarity across many nations and social divides during this shared crisis – mentioning in particular the common scenes of tenants in apartment complexes having “sing-songs” from their balconies. They made the most of isolated conditions. James also gave us a crash course in the work of Dr Martin Seligman – a pioneer in the world of positive psychology – and how extended periods of lockdown and isolation may help people to realise that accumulating material possessions (or chocolate cake) is not the secret to happiness.
My take on the positives for society at large included pleasant surprise that by and large, the masses proved to be responsible and trustworthy. For the most part, lockdowns were obeyed and there was no widespread lawlessness. As I said during the podcast, if this happened in Gotham City, not even Batman could keep a lid on it. I’m also encouraged to see that Online learning/working has taken a huge leap forward. I believe even after the lockdown lifts, many of the online adaptations will remain as the new norm and I believe that to be progress.
We concluded our discussion with a round up of all the improvements we’ve managed to make around the gym in preparation for the return to normality on August 10th. The message we wish to convey to all our clients out there is that yes, this has been tough on everyone. We’ve lost momentum and time but we’ve gained perspective and a new found appreciation of simple pleasures. It won’t be long until the dark clouds roll on by and the circle of life will continue turning again.
Time for you to get involved
We would love to hear your feedback and opinions on any of the topics above on any of our discussion portals, such as:
Here are the links to some of the articles we referenced during our discussions:
- https://theconversation.com/india-how-coronavirus-sparked-a-wave-of-innovation-135715 [Innovation during lockdown]
- https://www.smh.com.au/national/how-to-make-a-virtue-of-self-isolation-the-plague-and-isaac-newton-s-year-of-invention-20200316-p54ahe.html [Isaac Newton’s year of invention during the plague]
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-XS4aueDUg [Cuba’s DIY inventions during 30 years of isolation]