COVID is probably not the world-ending pandemic some are making it out to be.  It probably won’t plunge us back into the dark ages or trigger the zombie apocalypse but if it does you can rest assured that your CrossFit training has prepared you with the tools for survival better than any Zumba, yoga or TaeBo class would.  On second thought, TaeBo might be useful for fighting off zombies.  Next Empower clinic will feature guest coach Billy Blanks!

COVID might not end the world but it will disrupt life here on the West Coast for the foreseeable future.  Washington State has already had many cases and visa or no visa, COVID is coming across that border.  There’s a good chance it is already here and we’ll start seeing symptoms in the coming days.  Before you buy up all the available toilet paper in the industrialized world, please keep in mind there are options between the extremes of denial and panic.  It is possible to respond calmly and proactively.

Last night I stayed up reading reports from CrossFit affiliate owners in affected cities of China and Northern Italy to find out how things looked on the ground.  Though forcibly closed by government quarantine during the initial outbreak, the Chinese affiliate is once again open for operations.  Because the CrossFit population is a relatively healthy one, members were minimally affected.  Some got sick, most did not, all recovered.  As they’re finding out in Italy now, it was not the virus itself that created a challenge but the overburdening of the health care system.  Things are bad in Milan currently with not enough resources to treat everyone and not enough space to properly quarantine hospital patients.

By all accounts COVID is transmitted by droplets (coughing, sneezing) but some experts are suggesting it is also airborne meaning it can be transmitted by sharing air in the coffee shop, the gym, riding the bus or in the office.  I haven’t seen proof of this latter claim but either way, avoiding the virus is unlikely.  In fact, chances are you have already been in contact with someone who was in contact with COVID.  And it will continue to spread until about 70% of the population has developed immunity to this particular strain.

While washing hands, avoiding face caresses and sanitizing our surroundings are important steps to slowing the transmission rate, they will not stop it.  That doesn’t mean these efforts are in vain.  To the contrary, the more we can slow this thing down the less burden we put on our medical resources so while it’s not necessary to become obsessive, it is in our best interests to take reasonable precautionary measures.

CrossFit New England has opted to close their doors but at Empower we hope to stay open as long as we have healthy coaches to serve you because exercise is important for maintaining effective immune function and community support is important in trying times like these.  If you or a close loved one is immune-compromised, you may be best served to train from home.  We will start offering some video instructions on how to follow along with the WODs from home (see bottom of page for today’s selection).  And for community support you can video yourself with comments and post it to our Facebook page where Smash can chirp at you.

Another option is personal training with one of our coaches.  In the 1-on-1 session you will have a reduced risk of exposure.  For Empower members we’ll temporarily offer personal training at a discounted rate of $50/hour subject to coach availability.

If we are required to close the gym but have healthy coaches we will look for some outdoor WOD options.  We’re fortunate to have some great resources nearby that will make for entertaining and challenging workouts.  And there’s enough space that we can stay well clear of each other while we train.

For those of you who plan to continue training at the gym, here are some measures we are taking to reduce transmission:

1.  If you’re sick or living with someone who is sick, please stay home!  Caring is really not sharing!

2. Use the hand sanitizer at the entrance door both when you arrive AND when you leave the gym.

3.  Wipe down your equipment before AND after use.

4.  Bring your own chalk, athletic tape, whiteboards, dry erase markers, and drinking receptacles.  The more we minimize use of communal high-touch items the less risk of transmission.

5.  No more photo huddles or fist bumps.  This morning classes successfully implemented spirit bumps and spread out group class photos to minimize proximity.

What can you do to keep yourself healthy?

1.  If you haven’t stocked your larder as per Hawkeye’s advice last week, do so now.  This doesn’t mean you need to have the monopoly on two-ply but set aside enough food for you and your family to stay home for a 14 day quarantine if required.  Keep in mind, stores may not be able to stay open.  I recommend some frozen produce, canned fish and soup stocks that keep well, are easy to prepare and provide high nutritional value.

2.  Sleep well.  Stay rested.  Manage your stress.

3.  Eat well.  Vitamin and mineral deficiencies leave your immune system weak.  Do you track your intake?  I use MyFitnessPal to make sure I’m getting enough Iron, Potassium, Vitamin C etc.  For minerals like Zinc and Selenium that are not tracked on the app, I use HEAL as a hedge as it is made to Health Canada standards to provide 100% of the nutritional needs for patients on feeding tubes.  I am ordering 3 more cases today as our supplies are quickly dwindling.

4.  Really, eat well.  HEAL is my back up, real food is my first line of defense.  Here’s a tasty, easy to make smoothie recipe that I drink daily courtesy of Dr. Rhonda Patrick: In a blender (not a juicer) combine 1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice, 1 cup bone broth, dash of turmeric, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tomato, 1 apple, 1 avocado, 1 small beet, 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, tablespoon ground broccoli seeds, 1 cup mixed berries, chunk of fresh ginger, a handful of spinach leaves, 1 large leaf kale, 1 large leaf red Swiss chard, handful of parsley.  I know, it sounds awful.  But not only does it taste pretty good, my body has come to crave it daily.

5.  Mr. Fantastic recommends supplementing with the plant flavanol Quercetin.  It’s been popular with athletes to reduce inflammation and improve performance but studies have also proven its anti-viral capacity against COVID-like viruses (though there is no evidence yet that it is effective against COVID).

In frightening times like these, please try to remember to focus your energies on your sphere of influence.  Be proactive in taking control of the things you can control instead of worrying obsessively about those you can’t.  We’ll do our best to keep the gym open and safe for your continued training and will offer at-home options and support so you don’t need to miss a day!

Yours in health,

The Empower Team

Friday at-Home WOD

20 minutes SLIPS + Split Jerk

4 minutes of each of the following scaling as required as you would in the gym.:
Front & Back Scales

Then with a broom stick practice your Split Jerk for 15 minutes.