Coronavirus - How are you feeling?

Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin
edited September 2020 in AFS Family Corner

Greetings AFS Fit Fam! This is certainly a disconcerting time for all of us. The fear, anxiety and uncertain (both from a health and economic perspective) surrounding the Coronavirus is almost palpable everywhere you go. In a time where we've been urged by public health officials to "socially distance" ourselves from others (which I think is absolutely the right expectation to set medically), we have to be aware of our mental health during this period of time. Fear, anxiety, uncertainty and social isolation are all things that diminish our mental health and well-being.

I want to ask a question, but before I do, I want to assure every single AFS client of one thing. Our entire team will be working diligently during this crisis to ensure our facilities are the safest environments possible to attempt to help you maintain some sense of normalcy in you life. We still want AFS to the be the place you can come and forget about the troubles of the real world for just an hour a day. We are certainly paying attention to public health recommendations and will never ignore those. At the same time we will do everything to serve you as best we can throughout this difficult time, however we need to do that.

I think the first place that can start is here, in our community forum, just by connecting and talking to one another about our fears, concerns, and hopes for what this difficult time will bring. That's what I ask to all of you, our AFS community, how are you feeling about this? What are the fears, emotions, concerns, and hopes that are coming up. Sharing and letting other people know they're not alone is the best thing we can do to get through tough times like this. I won't ask you to share, without me sharing first, you'll find my feelings below. Please share in turn. With Love, Mike

Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist


  • Andrea SpanglerAndrea Spangler Member Rank ✭5✭

    Great discussion point Mike. My thoughts:

    First, I think AFS takes great care of their facilities and their clients! The cleanest public gym facility I have ever been in! That being said we can all do our part to help and wipe down equipment after use too!!

    Second, I can’t say I have fear...but I do think we are living in that space of ambiguity and that’s uncomfortable. It’s not widespread in our state or community...could it happen yes...will it happen who knows! But I think that we have to do what we can in the moment to help protect the spread...which means: proper hand hygiene, getting enough rest, fueling our bodies with the right food, staying physically active and doing what works for you individually to stay emotionally healthy too. Now, that also means staying home (from work and the gym) when you are sick (it can be hard) but what we need to do to get better and to prevent the spread of any virus (not just this one)!

    My thoughts for the night!

  • Sawyer Paull-BairdSawyer Paull-Baird Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    Thanks for starting this discussion Mike. I think sharing our feelings is incredibly therapeutic, and I am thankful once again to have the AFS community to share, and listen with.

    My anxiety is not overwhelming, but what I am experiencing mostly lies in the economic impact of all of this. I certainly have some worry about how this could impact our business, as well as the business of my father (who is a financial advisor), my wife's ability to find work as she undergoes a job search, and more. I imagine anyone who is not currently in healthcare is likely feeling a lot of the same things.

    That being said, like you say Mike.. all of those things are outside of my control. What I can control are my actions, and to a degree, my mindset. Thus, I am carrying forth that mindset. Control what I can, don't dwell on the rest.

    I definitely share some of your strange feelings of excitement. I just had a conversation with a client here in Ann Arbor who expressed sadness over how her choir and social functions are all being cancelled. She lives alone and is in her late 60s. She expressed how coming to AFS is what is keeping her sane right now, and how if she is forced to stay home in isolation, she would "go crazy".. I am thankful and excited to be able to be THAT to people. Such a powerful thing to be able to serve others in that way.

    Sawyer Paull-Baird BS CSCS ACSM-EP PN-Lvl1
    Agent of Change / Fitness Innovation & Education Coordinator
  • Patti ThibodeauPatti Thibodeau Member Rank ✭3✭

    I totally agree with Andrea as far as AFS being the cleanest and best maintained gym I’ve ever belonged to! And we can all participate by wiping our equipment down after using, and staying home if we are not feeling well. I cherish my sweat time and community time which contributes to my overall wellness in times like these!

    If I find myself dwelling on the ‘unknowns’ regarding the current situation, I admit that some feelings of discomfort and anxiety can start to creep in. The herd hysteria is what I’m having a hard time understanding...I don’t recall this type of reaction with SARS, Zika, and even Ebola wasn’t close to what’s going on currently. So I focus on knowing that we took the correct measures in the past to deal with those viruses and I feel very confident that we will survive this one too!

    In situations like this, we truly don’t have control over the situation so I find it helpful to control what I can: taking excellent care of myself and loved ones, and helping others as the opportunities to do so arise. Eating high quality nutrition, (LOTS of fruits, veggies, berries), maintaining good hydration, working out/moving (FS & SS), getting good quality and quantity of sleep, addressing stress (get to Pilates and yoga), spending time in prayer and gratitude...all of these practices will continue to be a part of my daily routine as much as possible!!!

    Stay informed and use common sense!!!

  • Nicole PorterNicole Porter Member Rank ✭6✭

    Because I am the eternal optimist (with the soul of a goth princess), I’ve been thinking a lot about the bright side of all. I actually had this conversation with someone at AFS yesterday and it clicked with them and changed their POV on what’s going on:

    - Travel costs – I’m spending less time dealing with expense reports, which is always awesome. I’m always all for being under budget (but I’m also wondering how it’s going to hit Q3/Q4) #savingourwaytogreatness;

    - Showing what can be done remote versus face to face – cutting unnecessary travel, which I feel like most travel is; making us think outside of the box for customer meetings and trainings, and how we can support our customers;

    - Improved hygiene – it’s beyond okay in my book to shame folks who aren’t washing their hands, cleaning up their dishes in the work kitchen or doing other uncouth and unsanitary things;

    - Forcing a more serious discussion about taking time off when you’re sick and employers providing paid sick leave – sometimes it takes an emergency rather than a revolution for change to take place (i.e. The Great Depression);

    - Decease in pollution!;

    - Improved and focused Business Continuity Planning – something that some larger businesses started looking into after 9/11, but probably hasn’t had the attention it needs in the face potential disruptions. My office has been on top of this as we're a global company and have already had to deal with office closures in South Korea, Japan, China and Seattle. My boss was in NY for 9/11 and China for either Swine Flu or SARS. He has been incredibly supportive and helpful throughout this; and

    - I'm disappointed seeing my calendar empty out of events BUT I have a laundry list of things around my house that I need to get done that I can't seem to make a priority, so I've started drafting a To Do List for my now empty next few weekends that I'm excited about tackling.

    But I've also been anxious as an already tightly wound person and my super power is coming up with a worst case scenario. The hus-bun and I have done what we can to be prepared as best we can. I keep reminding myself, "Worrying is like paying a debt you don't owe." and something a friend told me after a few years ago, "Humankind is incredibly resilient."

    I found myself feeling more calm and relaxed in the weight room this a.m. than I had in about 20ish hours, so thank you for that AFS team. 😍

  • Claire WhiteClaire White Member Rank ✭3✭
    edited March 2020

    this is a good topic. I think it’s important to not feel alone in situations like this. My biggest fear is the economic impact from this pandemic. I’m fearing a recession.... fear of the unknown from having a recession. Another big one is I fear for the health of my older family members.

    But I do feel safe at AFS. I know that it is (they are) the best maintained gym(s) out there. So I won’t stop going to workout (unless I don’t feel well). for years, I’ve always wiped down any mats/weights I use before AND after I use them throughout the entire class (every class I go to). It’s interesting though.... previous to this pandemic, when I would offer wipes to the other people at my station, most would say no thank you. But now, that is not the Case.

  • Beth ManoogianBeth Manoogian Member Rank ✭7✭
    edited March 2020

    @Mike Stack I think this is a good - and necessary - discussion, and it's great that AFS is keeping clients updated and discouraging sick clients from coming to the gym. As this situation progresses, and community spread starts happening, I hope that anyone with even mild symptoms will stay home. An infected person can spread the virus even before he/she develops symptoms, if he/she has mild symptoms (like the common cold), and in some cases viral shedding has been noted for even weeks after a patient recovers, so the whole "stay home for 24-48 hours after you feel better" thing may not necessarily apply to this virus.

    I have been going back and forth in my head these past few days about whether or not to stop coming to the gym for a few weeks and see how things progress.

    On the one hand, I love AFS, love the community, agree that it's excellent stress relief, and I am really afraid to lose all of the progress and strength I have gained. I don't have barbells, a squat rack, a sled press, etc at home.

    On the other hand, I DO have a Peloton bike at home, as well as a full set of dumbbells up to 35#, versa loops, and a weight bench, so I can probably make do with those for a bit hopefully without losing all my progress. And as a healthcare provider, I feel a duty to my patients to do my best to NOT get sick, which unfortunately means doing more social distancing than I would like.

    But furthermore, as someone who has asthma, I consider myself higher risk for complications should I get the virus, though I hope that since I am otherwise in good health, it would not be an issue. The death rate of COVID-19 in people with chronic underlying respiratory disease is 6.3%, and even higher for people who have diabetes (7.3%) or cardiovascular disease (10.5%). I also worry about surviving the virus but being horribly limited physically for the rest of my life due to the damage the virus could cause my body. Giving up the gym for a few weeks or so now may be worth it to continue to have the privilege of exercising for the rest of my life. I read this quote from a Newsweek opinion article that summarizes my feelings:

    'Here's why: Fatality is the wrong yardstick. Catching the virus can mess up your life in many, many more ways than just straight-up killing you. "We are all young"—okay. "Even if we get the bug, we will survive"—fantastic. How about needing four months of physical therapy before you even feel human again. Or getting scar tissue in your lungs and having your activity level restricted for the rest of your life. Not to mention having every chance of catching another bug in hospital, while you're being treated or waiting to get checked with an immune system distracted even by the false alarm of an ordinary flu. '

    As I recently suggested to @Kemper Sosa, if this does start spiraling out of control, you guys could always broadcast bodyweight-only FS classes live on FB (or via some sort of secure website only for paying clients)! Like a virtual pop-up workout, social distancing style! One instructor cues the audience while the other demonstrates the exercise and kicky music plays in the background - clients would complete the workout in the comfort of their own living rooms. OR, since it's getting nicer out, you could hold the classes outdoors and make sure everyone maintains a healthy six foot clearance around them at all times.

    Sorry for the long post, but I've had lots of thoughts on this over the past few days.

  • Nicole PorterNicole Porter Member Rank ✭6✭

    I would miss you so much @Beth Manoogian , but your patients are more important than having a kick ass FSx partner. And great idea on the video workouts, I would totally do those! I have a 40 lb bag of rabbit litter in the garage I can put to good use on squats and lunges!

  • Andrea SpanglerAndrea Spangler Member Rank ✭5✭
    edited March 2020

    Here is a video link: Welcome the Rain (I use it in a Building Resilience and Managing Stress course I facilitate): helps put things in perspective when I am feeling stressed!

    (You tube: Welcome the Rain)

    I also use this the Control vs Influence Model (I try to place situations in the appropriate ring) and if I can’t control or influence them...I do my best to Let Them Go!

  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    First off @Andrea Spangler, @Beth Manoogian, @Claire White, @Patti Thibodeau, and @Nicole Porter all of you make my heart happy just reading what you wrote. Thank you for being you!! That means a lot during this difficult time.

    Secondly, @Beth Manoogian we're working very hard right not to come up with many ways to serve all of you during this time. We will have more communication coming out at 3pm today and more in the days to come, we're opened to as many remote options as possible to ensure you maintain your fitness and health (both physically and mentally) during this period of time. @Sawyer Paull-Baird is working on getting a streaming system up and running. We're also working to partner with Exercise Warehouse for purchasing of small, home-based, equipment if clients are interested. As I said, more to come, please be on the lookout for it.

    Lastly, everyone who's in this thread should share it with their friends, we need everyone to hear these words and remain optimistic during this tough time.

    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

  • Shaina TinseyShaina Tinsey Member Rank ✭5✭

    I can't lie, this makes me pretty anxious. I am naturally an anxious person anyway, but I've never felt this way from an infectious disease outbreak before. I am not concerned about my own health - as a younger adult in good health the trends so far suggest I would likely be fine in the long run. I am concerned about my older family members, who I have to say, are not taking recommendations as seriously as I want them to for their age and health statuses. Also - as a public health professional (disclaimer: I am not an epidemiologist or infectious disease expert), I am worried about the population level impact if we can't/won't halt the spread. Because of the delay in symptoms presenting once infected, I worry about people going out and continuing to keep the spread going because they are fine as an individual, but we need to all work together and think about our neighbors, both those we know and those we don't. Not to mention the economic concerns, which are getting talked about more and more, but then there are mental health concerns. From those with fragile social safety nets to begin with, to kids whose positive and supportive influences are those found within the walls of schools, and more, there are a lot of ways this can impact health beyond infection.

    In a good faith effort to do my part, I won't be coming in for a couple weeks I don't think. After a couple weeks I'll reassess where we're at. As someone who has only ever not used my classes if I was personally quite ill, it's a hard decision, but I need to practice what I preach.

    Now, in an effort to offer something more optimistic, I'll close with this. I hope that in general society can use this as moment to practice slowing down. If we can see what it feels like to spend our days with fewer commitments and appointments, maybe we can reflect on what it would feel like to slow down more once this is behind us. To spend more time at home playing board games with family members, calling friends on the phone to check in, or sitting down to read a book more often.

    Thanks to all the AFS staff and leadership for both your transparency around this challenging time, and also your commitment to authentic engagement with your AFS community of members. Please know it's not going unnoticed!

  • Sarah McNittSarah McNitt Member Rank ✭3✭

    We’re healthy but we’re going to skip the gym this weekend because we can. We’re able to do our part to lower the density of weekend classes by working out at home. So we’re going to try to recreate an AFS-like experience in our basement. No straps or steps or punching bag but we’ll put something together!

  • Sawyer Paull-BairdSawyer Paull-Baird Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    Hopefully soon here you will be able to tune in to live streamed classes or other experiences from us at home, @Sarah McNitt =). also, don't hesitate to reach out to myself, your FP, or any AFS team member for guidance for creating an at home workout.

    Sawyer Paull-Baird BS CSCS ACSM-EP PN-Lvl1
    Agent of Change / Fitness Innovation & Education Coordinator
  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    @Shaina Tinsey ,thanks for sharing. I totally feel you. I've dealt with my fair share of worry and anxiety over time (right now is not exception). Stay strong, keep positive, try to live in the moment (don't get too far ahead of yourself), that can really get you down a rabbit hole on this kind of stuff quickly. I love your plans of connecting more with friends and family and slowing down to do the simpler things. I think that's great. We all can take a lesson from that for sure (myself included as I sit here and type this on a Saturday night at 5:45pm).

    We appreciate you and value you as a member of our Fit Fam, so we're very happy to be here to support you through this time.

    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

  • Ray DoerrRay Doerr Member Rank ✭1✭


    I just watched the video of you and your leadership team. Thank you for your leadership.

    I am fond of your staff at your Rochester facility - Jared, Eileen, Zac, Maya, Paul, Theresa, and Trent. I'm a prime candidate to catch this virus. So, at the encouragement of my wife, I will be reducing my attendance at your Rochester facility during this coronavirus caution period. However, I'm keeping my membership alive and up to date. I love the way you and your people connect with everyone by name and are so helpful to coach, guide, and encourage us in our scientifically designed workouts. I'm looking forward to staying connected you and your team through some of your potential offering. Please keep us informed.

    Thanks again for you and your leadership team's efforts to keep us healthy, strong, and safe,

    Ray Doerr

    AFS Rochester client

  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    @Ray Doerr thanks so much for your support. I can't tell you how much that means to us. It's client like you that have helped us build a strong community and it's clients like you who will help us prevail through this crisis. You and your family stay healthy and safe right now.

    With humility, gratitude, and love,


    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

  • Therese GrossiTherese Grossi Member Rank ✭1✭

    AFS Team - You folks are terrific. This is a tough time for everyone and I plan to do my part to help. While I won’t be coming in, I’m keeping my membership in place and active. I appreciate your leadership and dedication to the community.

    Therese Grossi

    AFS Plymouth Client

  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    Thanks so much @Therese Grossi! We appreciate the love and support! Thank you so much!!! We will, indeed, prevail!!!

    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

  • Angela JohnsonAngela Johnson Member Rank ✭6✭

    I'm feeling gratefully prepared and at peace. A few tools that have helped me in recent days:

    -I updated my dry erase board with action items and the aim to complete '2 goals' daily.

    -I made a collage of 9 pictures that motivate me and set the collage as the background/lock screen on my phone.

    -I'm watching television (Succession HBO, RuPauls Drag Race, Booklyn Nine Nine) for intentional distraction from reality :-)

    -Choosing 3 times during the day to catch up on news and limiting notifications at all other times.

    -Living moment to moment/day by day. It earnestly feels that the most responsible thing to do right now is take care of myself, and hope others do the same <3

  • Laura HagenLaura Hagen Member Rank ✭1✭

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for asking this question. Thank you for your positive comments and reminders about how mindset can make such a difference! Thank you for making AFS the amazing, caring institution that it is with staff that truly have heart.

    I'd be lying if I said I wasn't struggling with this whole situation on many levels. I simply don't understand the extreme reactions. I don't understand the hysteria and all the conflicting misinformation. I don't understand how people take reports, quotes, etc. out of context and build very inaccurate conclusions from them based more on emotion than fact. Perhaps it's my background getting in the way; but I simply don't understand how this was allowed to get so out of hand so quickly.

    I'm a horseman. I work with 1200lbs animals that are amazing and could kill or seriously injure me at any time if I don't maintain respect for them and focus on what I'm doing. I'm an analyst by profession. I work in forecasting and have a strong background in event management and catering. I know because of all of this and going through a lot of difficult situations in life, such as being hit head on by a drunk driver that I may have a tougher perspective on the situation than others; but I think the situation seems to be being handled badly by the media and the government. It's out of control and decisions seem to be being made without regard to future consequences. I completely understand closing a stadium because of the logistics involved having thousand of people packed together in a limited space for a prolonged period of time. I don't understand closing small gyms and restaurants with only a few hours notice. All that prepped food wasted. All that hard work put into plans to maintain the business and keep people safe wasted.

    On the brighter side you are right. It's not the crisis that matters it's our reaction to it that counts. Do we panic and horde toilet paper or do we ask what can we do to make this into an opportunity for reflection, learning and growth? I'm really looking forward to seeing what awesome, remote options you and the AFS team come up with. I will miss the gym and the in-person interactions in classes; but there are many opportunities here to tackle tasks that keep getting put off, try a new style of workout, and get outside. 😊

    All the best,


    Grateful AFS Plymouth Client

  • Robert SarnaRobert Sarna Member Rank ✭5✭

    Late night response. Thank you to the AFS staff and leadership for the timely updates and doing everything you could to keep open and the clients safe with this Coronavirus epidemic. Over the weekend during FS and SS I wiped down the equipment with the wipes that were available in the room. I think I’ve made it well known that I’m not canceling or putting my membership on hold. I’m in this for the long haul. I love AFS.

    Am I worried about this virus, not really from a health standpoint. I’ll keep practicing what the doctors and experts are saying. Economic wise I’m very worried though. Recession is a strong possibility if we really aren’t already there. As with my membership, I’m gonna ride it out.

  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    @Angela Johnson, thanks for sharing. Those all sounds like a great way to spend your time right now! Nice work looking at this as an opportunity to grow!

    @Laura Hagen, first off you so welcomed, and thank you for contributing to this thread! You're definitely spot on with all the conflicting information out there. The media is politicizing this far too much. If you watch CNN the world is ending it seems, if you watch Fox News, everything will be "fine." It's disheartening we can't get the true answer from our public health officials due to all the partisan rhetoric and posturing fall the fall election. I have no "dog in the race" so-to-speak politically in this. I think I want, what many Americans want, the truth and straight answers and I think everyone can do better in providing that to us. Lastly, you are right, it is not the crisis that counts it's our reaction to it. This can be a time for growth and betterment or it can be a time for decay and fear. It is an active choice we all have everyday. It seems like you are choosing the former, and we need more people to do just that to get through this.

    @Robert Sarna, you're welcomed as well. We're going to keep doing what we've always done. I woke up this morning, did my morning routine, but on my AFS clothes and went to work. COVID-19 won't change that. You are right the economy will likely suffer, we've had a bull market and so much economic growth for so long, we knew a recession was likely coming. Sadly it had to come at the hands of this health care crisis. I am hopeful the economy will rebound on the backs of the small businesses and grassroots efforts in communities. The federal government will bailout the big players (airlines, travel, banks, etc.), but the backbone of our economy has always been the small business (slightly biased there, but surely not alone) and I'm quite confident that many small business owners will step up to the plate and take this challenge head on. Ultimately we're all in this together, and we can conquer both the public health and economic crises with determination, focus, and resolve.

    Thank you everyone for sharing. Please keep doing so. AFS staff, how are you doing with all of this? @Kemper Sosa @Devin Tarrant @Jared Freeman how are you and your teams doing?

    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

  • Jared FreemanJared Freeman Member, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    We are doing well @Mike Stack!! Just had a meeting this morning (online) to discuss home programming for clients and to check in on how everyone is feeling. This is a time full of unknowns but we will adjust and come out of it stronger and smarter.

    Jared Freeman BS CPT CSCS

    Agent of Change / Managing Partner 

  • Mike StackMike Stack Member, Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    Thanks @Jared Freeman! I know I've seen firsthand how positive our teams are (both the ones that are still working and the ones that aren't). Indeed, many unknowns, but a lot of positive energy around our team right now!

    Michael E. Stack, BS CFP CSCS*D CPS
    AGENT OF CHANGE, CEO, & Exercise Physiologist

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