Misty May-Treanor shares her advice on how to stay balanced.
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The novel coronavirus, now labeled COVID-19, has taken the world by storm in the early months of 2020, and people are worried that it will only continue to spread. That said, you might be wondering if, at some point in the not-so-distant future, it will become difficult to maintain your current lifestyle while also protecting yourself from this virus.
While there’s no way to know the answer to that question for sure, it’s safe to say that a little bit of education about prevention will go a long way toward maintaining both your health and your active lifestyle.
You know what they say—better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. When it comes to COVID-19, that logic holds up. Once you understand exactly how coronavirus transmission works, you dispel a great deal of the mystery and can better protect yourself.
While researchers are still uncovering precisely how the virus spreads, they currently believe it uses two main methods—spreading directly between people within six feet of each other, or through the sneezes or coughs of an infected person. With this knowledge in mind, it’s easier to apply preventive measures during your daily activities.
Whether you’re heading to a day spa for your monthly self-care retreat, or stopping for a matcha tea at your favorite local joint, the most effective methods of avoiding COVID-19 remain relatively static.
Wash your hands
To be clear, you should practice basic hygiene like washing your hands all the time and not just when the world is on the precipice of a pandemic, but it’s especially important right now.
Wash your hands after using your favorite weight machines at your gym, attending your daily yoga class, or simply handing the barista at your neighborhood coffee shop cash—it will go a long way toward protecting you against coronavirus.
Keep your distance
If you see someone exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, like coughing or sneezing, try to stay more than six feet away for good measure. Even if those around you don’t appear sick, keep a distance of three feet just to be safe.
Given that close contact is one of the established ways that COVID-19 can spread, there’s no such thing as being overzealous with your personal boundaries at the moment.
Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose
Your hands are often unwitting transporters of germs to your body. If you happen to touch a surface that is infected, the virus can enter your body more easily when transferred directly to vulnerable areas like the eyes, mouth, and nose. This is not to say you need to walk around wearing a face mask, though, as that’s mostly just helpful for preventing the spread from infected people.
In a perfect world, places like your fitness facility will take special precautions to protect you and the other patrons from coronavirus, but you can never be too careful with your own efforts, whether you’re at the gym, your favorite restaurant, or even a public park. While all of these methods will significantly help in adding protection against COVID-19, there are even more measures to stay cognizant of when traveling.
Our friends at WHO share some practical advice in this highly-informative video:
If you’ve been planning a special trip for months, the COVID-19 outbreak might be particularly vexing for you. After all, coronavirus travels on airplanes, cruise ships, and any other vehicle indiscriminately, so you have to be especially careful as you embark on your journey.
First and foremost, think about how risky contracting the virus would be for you personally. Obviously, no one wants to wind up with a case of coronavirus, but it’s only especially dangerous for those with weakened immune systems, like the elderly. Maybe you’re a generally healthy person, but you still don’t relish the idea of grappling with this virus. In that case, you should employ all of the methods mentioned above to protect against coronavirus with an important addition: talk to your doctor.
Depending on where you’re traveling, your doctor may want you to get additional vaccines to protect you from COVID-19. You should also let a doctor know as quickly as possible if you begin showing symptoms after your trip so they can address them promptly. The panic over coronavirus doesn’t have to mean canceling your lash extension fill or skipping your favorite barre class. It just means that you should double down on hygiene and stay aware of those around you. Go on investing time and energy into your wellness as coronavirus rages on, just be careful all the while to protect your health, too.
Hey, studio owners! Need helpful and practical advice about how to prepare your fitness studio in the time of coronavirus? We have you covered there as well.
With so many fitness studios and gyms closing their doors in a bid to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, their members are turning to at-home workouts to fill the need for physical activity. As we’ve mentioned before, there has likely been no better time to prioritize exercise in our daily lives, both for physical and emotional reasons. Luckily, many studios are now recording and streaming virtual workouts so people can take advantage of their offerings at home (Hint: you don't have to just book local, change your location to anywhere you'd like and explore classes all over the world!). But before you move the coffee table and roll out the mat, there’s something you should remember: stretching.
Ah yes. Stretching. For many of us (though we’d never say it out loud) stretching before and after working out feels a bit like that pile of peas your mom made you eat as a kid: you know it’s good for you, but do I have to? The answer, I’m afraid, is yes—and even more so if you’re working out at home. Here are some best practices to help you prevent injury and make sure you’re getting the most of your incredibly valuable workouts.
Remember: any workout—even one done in your living room—is still a workout. If you’re about to do a 45-minute virtual class, don’t just give yourself 45 minutes. You need to give yourself time to arrange your space, get your water, and get your mind right before hitting play or joining that livestream. But you also need to give yourself time to get your body right too, and that brings us to…
Wait, what about stretching? Conventional wisdom dictates that you should stretch your muscles before beginning your physical activity, but mounting research is telling us that may not be such a great idea. Stretching your cold, stiff muscle fibers before they’re warmed up can actually hurt them. And because we're spending so much time at home, it’s likely our poor muscle fibers are tighter now than they've been in a long time.
If you’re following along with a livestream or on-demand workout, there will likely be some sort of instructor-led warm-up. That said, don’t assume that your virtual workout will provide exactly the kind of warm-up that you personally need. Without the trainer right there to keep you accountable and check your form, it’s super important to take steps to protect yourself and ensure you’re warmed up enough to begin.
According to McAlister Training co-owner and head trainer Michael McAlister, “Warming up is as important, if not more important, than the workout itself. Even from home, I encourage clients to warm-up just like they would at our studio. Before every class, I ask clients to foam roll, do hip lifts, and perform trunk rotations as a pre-warm-up. Then, we’ll warm-up together on-screen.”
So before reaching for those toes, spend a few minutes getting your blood moving to the areas you are going to stretch and exercise. A few other great ideas for some gentle (but effective) warm-ups include:
- High knees (or run in place)
- Holding a plank
- Air squats
Once you’re nice and warm, and maybe breathing a little heavier…
Properly stretching your muscles helps keep them long and flexible, improving your range of motion during the coming workout and protecting muscles and joints from potential injury like sprains and strains. But as important as stretching is, you can injure yourself just as easily doing it incorrectly as you can by skipping it entirely.
Enter your stretches slowly, and don’t overstretch to the point of pain. You should feel a satisfying pull, but if it hurts, you’ve gone too far. Combine static stretching—where you find your stretch and hold it for 30 seconds or more—with dynamic stretches like “cat-cow” where you move fluidly through a range of controlled motions. Feel free to concentrate on an area longer if you know you’re about to work that area out intensively or if you feel a lot of tightness there. And please, don’t bounce in your stretch—just stick with smooth, steady movements to avoid injuring yourself before you’ve even begun your workout.
During the workout, pay attention to areas of tightness/sensitivity you noticed during your stretching session (or any new ones you discover). Don’t “push through the pain” in problem areas or extend your muscles and joints past their natural range of motion. Basically, if it feels wrong, it is wrong. There’s absolutely no shame in modifying a move to protect yourself.
“If you’re attending livestream classes at the studio you regularly go to, reach out to your instructor(s), and let them know what you’re experiencing. Just like in a regular class, they’ll be happy to chat with you on the phone or through FaceTime, individually, to provide tips to modify and recover properly,” says McAlister.
Once you've counted down the final seconds of your workout and completed your last rep, you may be (justifiably) tempted to lay on the floor in a sweaty heap for a while before getting up to shower and carry on with your day. But do that and you’ll miss a huge opportunity to improve your overall mobility and flexibility.
As soon as your workout is over, cool down with some walking to bring your heart rate down in a controlled manner. Once you’ve caught your breath, it’s time to stretch again—and this one’s at least as important as the first. Think about it: your muscles are about as warm as they’re ever going to get, which makes it the perfect opportunity to work on conditioning those muscles and joints. Stretching can help lengthen and soothe your pumped-up muscles, which are now in a more contracted state after your workout.
Plus, stretching is just a nice closing ritual for ending a workout. It allows you to decompress after the physical demands you just placed on your body and gives you a moment of calm reflection before changing gears.
Just like working out, stretching only reveals its true potential when you do it consistently. If you’re inflexible now, you got that way over a long period of time—and that means it’s going to take time to improve it. You can’t expect a single high-quality stretch sesh to undo months or years of tightness. Stick with a good pre- and post-workout stretch routine, and one day you’ll notice those toes aren’t quite so far away, and your back doesn’t hurt so much when you do that one thing anymore.
Right now, a lot of people are re-evaluating what “normal” means for them, and many of them are finding ways to use this difficult time for self-improvement. Virtual, at-home workouts are a blessing, giving us ways to stay active and stay connected with our favorite studios and trainers (or try new ones!). But remember, you can protect yourself while you push yourself—you just might have to stretch yourself a bit.