We are lucky at Empower to have so many medical professionals in our midst.  Yesterday one leaked to me a Coastal Health internal webcast for hospital workers, free of media and politics and full of science and facts!  We’re not sure this was supposed to be shared with the public so though I wanted to share the link to the full 1-hour webcast with you, to avoid getting anyone in trouble I’m going to just share my key takeaways:

1) Canada ranks right up there with Australia and South Korea among nations worldwide who are successfully dealing with the COVID crisis.  Because Canadians have been diligently compliant with self-isolation measures our nation has not suffered a medical care crisis and death rates have been very low.  Way to go Canada!

2) Among Canadian provinces, BC has been exceptionally successful in managing the spread of infection.  We do not know why but the only thing they noted that we did differently is we did not enforce a complete closure of public parks as other provinces did (and we had great sunny weather).  While my friend in Ontario reports police there were ticketing people for walking alone in public parks, Vancouverites liberated from work, were out riding bikes, running and exercising in our parks in the glorious sunshine.  We know vitamin D plays a key role in immune function and I suspect fresh air is good for us too.  I have also seen a few preliminary studies suggesting that exercise helps reduce incidence of severe respiratory complications in people with Coronavirus.  In our first days of isolation I was so proud to see the residents of my adopted city out and about getting exercise and sunshine and fresh air and in that moment I felt a powerful wave of optimism that we were going to make it through this, because we’re awesome.  Vancouver, I am so proud of you!

3) Because studies so far indicate that outdoor transmission rates of COVID-19 are very low and the virus has a poor survival rate in sunlight, humidity and warm places and because there have been few if any outdoor super spreader events (see my previous posts for links to the relevant studies), the City will be looking to reopen parks shortly.  If you drive past Spanish Banks you will see them putting gates on the beach parking lots to replace the logs currently blocking the lots.  They are going to encourage us to get outside more – at a safe distance of course!

4) There have been very few reported COVID-19 cases in children and very few reports of children infecting parents.  In countries like Australia where schools remained open, parents of children attending classes did not have higher risk of contracting the virus.  Expect to see children return to classes shortly (sorry kids).  I know a lot of parents are afraid to send their kids back but there is no rational evidence supporting those fears – we’ll discuss fear and logic later.

5) The greatest risk factors remain being over 80 years old and living in a nursing home.  So try not to do those things.  But seriously, not the time to visit your grandparents or elderly parents.  And though kids don’t seem to act as vectors for the virus, I wouldn’t invite Grandma to little Jimmy’s 6th birthday party with all his grade school friends just yet.  For unknown reasons men are more likely than women to develop respiratory complications with COVID-19 but again, if you are under 80 and fit you are statistically at very low risk.

6) 80% of people who contract the virus will have mild to no symptoms and require NO medical care.  And of those who do develop severe symptoms, most will recover.  Chances are you’re going to be exposed.  Chances are you’ll hardly know.

7) Prolonged exposure is still the greatest risk.  Transmission in grocery stores or banks or transit seems to be very low probability.  Meat processing plants, prisons, care homes and any place where you are cooped up in close quarters with a lot of other people seem to be COVID’s major breeding grounds so stay away from densely populated indoor spaces.  They’re not yet ready to open hair salons but acknowledge the statistical risks of transmission from 1-on-1 contact with your hair dresser are relatively low.  The same may be true of small gyms like ours but please note that gyms that reopened last month in China are now closed again due to another spike in outbreaks.  We know our Empower members are healthy and strong and unlikely to succumb to the virus but we aren’t going to be the gym that sends members home to infect their elderly loved ones!  The health and safety of you and your loved ones will always take priority over our financial interests and we will conduct ourselves accordingly.

8) All these measures are not about trying to prevent you from getting COVID-19.  I think a lot of people have mistaken this self-isolation as an act of self-protection.  When people throw themselves into the road in front of oncoming traffic in order to avoid sharing a sidewalk with me, I realize the majority of people don’t understand why we’re in isolation and that’s why fear has taken hold.  No one’s trying to prevent you from being exposed to COVID-19.  That may be impossible.  All these precautionary measures have been taken in order to slow – not stop – the spread of the virus so that we do not overwhelm the medical system as many other countries have done.  We want safe emergency care available for all our citizens and we are self-isolating out of a sense of responsibility to each other.  By slowing the spread, we help each other.  As more relaxed measures are introduced the number of cases is expected to rise.  That is the goal.  You will be exposed – gradually.  The goal is to have a controlled and manageable increase in cases spread out over a longer timeline.  It is not about you not being exposed.  It’s about you and me not being exposed at the same time.  Let me fully recover from my COVID symptoms and unburden our health care system before you go through it.

Seriously, fear has a powerful way of overwhelming logic and then everyone stops thinking clearly.  They start hoarding toilet paper, throwing themselves in front of cars in order to avoid contact with other humans and freaking out about strangers they see coughing in the park.  They start acting as if they can avoid exposure and that exposure is the worst thing that can happen to them.

On the other hand, as safety measures are relaxed, other people will breathe a sigh of relief that the threat is all over and throw all caution to the wind as they party to celebrate their liberation from self –isolation.  This is an error in the opposite direction.  COVID-19 is going to be with us awhile.  Probably years.   And we will have to adjust precautionary measures based on the numbers of cases we’re seeing.  Shine shared a great mathematical model of this a week or so back explaining why measures will slacken then tighten then slacken again as we navigate the difficult course between economic survival and managing infection rates.  As Shine pointed out, the strength of math is that it is always rational and not at all governed by the prevailing emotions.  People are the opposite.

To quote the Hagakure: “As calamities are usually not as bad as anticipated beforehand, it is foolhardy to feel anxiety about tribulations not yet endured.” Or as Roosevelt put it: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”

May will be a month of uncertainty as the government and health authorities experiment with relaxing restrictions while trying to maintain a controlled increase in COVID transmissions.  They are working with some decent predictive models but there are a lot of variables – human behaviour being a big one.  Don’t get flustered by shifting standards and don’t let yourself succumb to irrational fears, it is simply a game of numbers.  We’re cracking open the floodgates of viral transmission and hoping to control the rising tides, if they rise too quickly we may need to close the gates again temporarily before opening them again.  Keep calm, there is a plan and so far BC, you are rocking it!

You’re probably going to be exposed.  And you’re probably going to be alright.  The greatest risk to your health remains heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.  COVID is waaaaay down on the list of things most likely to kill you.  The better care you take of yourself, the better your chances.  Good news is we have a prescription that lowers your risk of all-cause mortality, COVID or otherwise: Keep exercising.  Get outside.  Enjoy the sun.  Eat well.

Spirit Animal Otter
If an animal appears to you during your WOD does that make it your spirit animal?  If so, sea otter is my new spirit animal because that was my workout buddy on the otherwise deserted beach.

It was another overcast day which means Tower Beach was almost empty.  I wasn’t completely alone though, as you’ll see in the video.  There were a lot of fun toys to warm up with.  I threw rocks, did log overhead squats and back squats.  I did log twists and Sott’s presses as well as one-armed shoulder presses and push presses.

For the SLIPS I like to mix it up a bit.  For planks I did some shoulder tap planks and K2E as well as adding a devious twist to the side plank that really hit the obliques.  I wanted to kick up to a tree for my handstand and it was really difficult, just like being a beginner again, my body did not want to go past the tipping point.  Didn’t help that I’d missed on the kick up a couple days ago and ended up upside down in the fork of a tree bruised and scraped and apparently, emotionally scarred (why did I not have the camera running for that?)  I also worked on some crow pose which I find very challenging so I should practice it more frequently.

To find a heavier log I had to travel farther down the beach.  The one I used for shoulder presses last time was not going to be heavy enough but lucky me, there was no shortage of training tools available.  The beach is fully equipped with just about everything you need for a strength training day!  Plus I got to climb the stairs after it was all over.

Something to lift overhead.  Heavy is better.
PVC pipe or band or belt for cool down.

Warm Up: SLIPS
1 min OS Scapula Rock
1 min OS Push Up
2 mins OS Full Body Rock

2 mins L sit Hold
2 mins L Sit Raises

2 mins Crow Pose
2 mins Handstand Hold

1 min Shoulder tap Panks
1 min Oblique Twist Right
1 min Oblique twist Left
1 min Plank K2E

2 mins Scales
2 mins Scales with eyes closed

Push Press

Push Press

Cool Down
Shoulder pass throughs
Shoulder Series
OS Scapula rock