"Non-Essential" Never Again
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Eric Durak, MSc
Recent events around coronavirus will have a lingering effect on the health club industry; however, there are questions that people are asking now that need to be addressed, as the COVID-19 pandemic is, at its core, as much political as it is epidemiological.
The first comes from journalist Michael Barone who asks the question last week in the Washington Examiner if the lockdowns were worth it. His response was: No. He states eloquently that, in the history of infectious disease, at no other time were healthy people quarantined for an outbreak, including the Asian flu and Hong Kong flu. The nature of treating healthy people as "sick until proven healthy" is similar to the adage of "guilty until proven innocent." Your back is to the wall from the outset. It is also not the way we do things in this country, or at least its not the way we used to do them.
The concept of sick until proven healthy is a non-sequitur, as it doesn't take into consideration all of the elements of health promotion, testing and assessments, diagnosis and symptomology. In fitness, it would be akin to stating that everyone who comes into a health club has no fitness level to start just because they were not assessed. We know this is not correct. Unless afflicted by a high-level disease, many people have some level of innate fitness level, whether it's aerobic fitness, strength or range of motion. Testing aside, with infectious disease, it is symptomology above all else that has historically been the foundation of treatment. You're sick; you stay home. The sad state of our health in the U.S. is that the average adult American has 2 - 3 colds per year. It is testament to how important physical activity and nutrition are regarding maintaining high level health.
The Politics of Health
The COVID-19 issue has brought to light the highly charged political nature of a person's health. I'm sure there are health and fitness professionals at every level who have their opinions regarding where we are with regards to dealing with this virus, how it started and its veracity, but my response to those who look to vaccines or other medicines is that, from the early onset of the diagnosis of this virus (MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX diagnosed the first cases in Texas back in October of 2019), is that 100% of persons who have recovered from COVID-19 (and that number is 99.96%) have done so through natural immunity. Forget about the concept of herd immunity, as it has been taken out of context by the pharmaceutical industry. The need for any intervention at this time for the majority of persons may not be warranted.
So, where do we stand? The most basic is to strengthen or maintain the health of the immune system through super foods and supplements, healthy eating and exercise. I detailed the benefits of exercise in my previous article.
Some Health Clubs WERE Open
In a surprise report again from the Washington Examiner, club owners in the San Francisco Bay Area are fuming in the first week of September as it became known that Government gyms remained open this summer while California health clubs were closed, then reopened in June, then shut down again. This is a calculated political move that I believe strengthens the assertion that closing certain business around the nation had less to do with public safety and more to do with lobbying and political favors. This situation should prompt health club owners, club associations and fitness professionals to contact their elected representatives immediately to have them work towards opening clubs immediately (based on this information). I would suggest that health clubs have Zoom conferences and calls to representatives and discuss some of the current issues regarding the safety, benefits and ramifications of keeping health clubs as essential businesses, from medical fitness to nutrition programs to social aspects to improving overall health; it is a perfect time to push the narrative of "essential business" of consumer-based clubs (injecting the aspects that government clubs have remained open).
Lastly, the political aspects of health have spilled into the nutritional realm as well. Over the past half-decade, I have read more and more media reports on the issues or problems with things like herbs, supplements and specific nutritional programs. I have written letters to many publications stating that the use of supplements and specific food plans is about improving health (and now fighting disease) as opposed to discussions regarding regulation status or expensive urine.
Medicine has taken this one step further. A report from Germany highlights the use of substances called antivitamins, which change the molecular structure of a substance to block the action of a naturally occurring vitamin (in this case, vitamin B1). They are using this antivitamin to block bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Their solution? Negate the action of a vitamin instead of using another substance that would improve the gut biome and improve the ability to fight bacterial infections (such as garlic, honey, ginger and echinacea). This research, and other reports against vitamins is telling as to the direction that medicine is going. Judging by the response to the current coronavirus issue; it's not going in the right direction.
This is why we need fitness and nutrition more than ever. The need to change the physiological direction of persons from all perspectives may lie more heavily on the fitness profession very quickly. The question is: Are they up for the challenge?
To view the list of References for this article, please go to bit.ly/clubinsider101.