MMA commentator Robin Black once described the training process at Bang as a cycle. You start with something and kind of suck at it. Then you practice it and suck less. You start to get pretty good at it and then—just before you get too comfortable—things get switched up. And there you are again—beginning as a beginner. It’s our universe in a box, really.
In every system, there is a time when adaptation actually takes place and we find ourselves capable—if not necessarily ready—to move on.
Where does that put us right now?
The calm before the storm.
That may seem like a weird statement—given that we are, by all accounts, mid-storm. I know a lot of people who are—only now—shifting from numbness to experiencing the depth of feelings that life AC (After Covid) has created. However, I would liken this to moving to another country. The culture is different. The values are different. The priorities are different. But we haven’t really begun to experience that yet. Half of our stuff is still in boxes.
What are the second-order effects?
There’s not a lot of literature on the mental health consequences of pandemics but the data we have says that large-scale traumatic events have been followed by a 5-10% increase in everything from clinical depression to domestic abuse. We need to be ready.
I know that’s heavy but there are also many positive things that will emerge. These are the pearls and diamonds. Neither is created in comfort.
Industries will change
A friend of mine is a partner in a co-working space. BC (Before Covid), they were finding ways to create flexibility and accessibility for people who were neither working from the office nor from home. They’re lying fallow right now but what will happen next? A lot. We both expect to see the white whale of urban planning come to life—that most people’s homes and jobs will be close to each other.
Many organizations were paying lip service to remote work. They weren’t motivated to create the option, however. Most likely because they didn’t believe in their team’s motivation. Then their hand was forced. Want to know what’s happening? People are crushing it. The extra chaos that remote work creates is balanced by a lack of demotivational factors. Friction has been removed—not added. Which is why people who are essentially stamping out widgets (on laptops) are going above and beyond right now. The only thing that’s really obsolete is the concept of micromanaging them.
I think that a lot of companies will recognize this and drop offices—along with their associated costs—like a hot potato that someone coughed on.
Meanwhile, we have a newfound appreciation for the previously invisible. Some are heroes, like senior care attendants, truckers, and delivery workers (we thank you!) Some are stepping to the forefront, like mechanics and chefs.
The new invisible? What would you only notice by its absence? Plastic and cardboard? Waste treatment? Product placement?
Human movement is moving on
COVID-19 has been terrible for the fitness industry but I think that it’s going to be great for human movement in general. I honestly can’t wait.
Back in the early-to-mid 1800s, a handful of fitness celebrities impacted public opinion. These people looked great and transformed various methods—often rediscovered —into fads. Marketers created dramatically over-hyped offerings that were the physical equivalent of get-rich-quick schemes. Some were moderately effective and some were snake oil.
Many fit people would showcase their lifestyles as a sort of virtue. They focused on what they ate or how they exercised. Mostly, though, they identified themselves by what they abstained from. And the majority of the population? They had a good general idea of what to do but nevertheless felt confused or overwhelmed about actually getting it done.
The only real difference between 1830 and today is that people on your social media feed believe in germs. Most of them. I mean… Have you ever seen a germ?
Fitness influencer Arthur Saxon
Fitness has changed too
The biggest transformation I’ve seen so far is one of values. We’re still vain, us humans, but not as much. We are more focused on our deeper health than perhaps ever in our lifetimes. Yes, that means obvious concerns like robust immune systems and solid nutrition. It also moves us toward exercise practices to build mental health— instead of slapping a band-aid on it.
Exercise is less constrained than it has been. Our (previously) standard lifestyle meant that fitness was a bit of a production—something that was partitioned off from the rest of your life by schedule, social convention, and space. Now, you are at liberty to drop and give yourself 20 at any time of the day. You may have even noticed how certain types of exercise actually improve your mood or focus. You can microdose those now—instead of downing one gigantic pill 3-4 times a week.
Want our worksheet on that? Hit reply and let me know.
Our concept of motivation is along for the ride
People have long expressed a desire to be yelled into greater fitness because of a perceived lack of motivation. Yet those goals may not have been deeply important to them. The closer you get to your true values, the more intrinsic motivation you will find.
Ok, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be motivated to exercise right now. However, many people are experiencing consistency like never before. Just like the companies that previously avoided remote work, it wasn’t motivation that had to change but the friction points around it.
People are more independent
I’ve long believed in more of a consultant mentality than a middle-management one. Our role as fitness professionals is to give people tools, increase their clarity, and help them dial in the right level of challenge. This isn’t really a slower start than any other standard method. Certainly not after the first 1-3 months. But it feels that way to many people. I think that will change as people realize that they can manage themselves just fine. Fitness clients will evolve into the kind of people who pay for insight to speed up progress. The profession of cajoling them into fitness will largely fade away.
I look forward to days of more organic, personally-driven fitness and of mental health having the same cultural caché as physical health. That won’t solve all of our problems but it will certainly help the process.
How are you changing?
Let me know. I’d love to hear about it.
We’re now hosting Zoom-based open gym sessions. If we’ve built you a program, bring that. Otherwise, we’ll have a spicy fitness meatball waiting for you. Join our community page here to get schedules and links.
Bang member Jonathan Krehm and the Canzona Chamber Players will be playing live online this Sunday. View the program and find the link here.
We’ve partnered with Inkblot Therapy to offer members of our community access to online counselling. It’s affordable—free while you find your counselling match. More on the community page.