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Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

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When dealing with something, anything really, that is unprecedented, we are forced to deal with a slap in the face reality check. A reality that has quite literally, never been done or known before this point in time. I want to speak openly and candidly about how the current global health care situation has affected me personally and professionally, and how it is currently leading me to reevaluate my own practice and mindset. I am sure that this revaluation is not unique to me, and I am confident that when we are all on the other side of this, many industries will just be that much more adept and capable of serving their customers even better and more holistically than previously thought possible. 

“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to stay there are things we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns; there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

-Donald Rumsfeld

Regardless of your side of the aisle or personal view of our former Secretary of Defense, this quote is so unbelievably applicable to a great variety of things in life. I know that a bicep concentrically contracts (actively shortens) the elbow joint. I know that I don’t know the state by state contribution limits to a 529, 401k, or Roth IRA (but Niki, my newly minted CFP of a wife does). Most importantly though, before last Monday, I did not know that I didn’t know how I would continue to serve my loyal clientele while also adhering to the CDC recommended decisions of our federal, state, and local governments for weeks and potentially months.

Taking Action Without Compromising the Mission 

I had taken steps to help empower my clients and their families while traveling for work, vacation, or winter retreats to warmer climates, by providing a multitude of workout ideas, exercise videos, and one-on-one virtual training sessions. But even though I had taken these steps, they were to help provide a supplement to regular in person interactions, not necessarily to serve as a sole means of adhering to a mult-faceted wellness program. Things have changed, and we’ve all had to adapt to this new normal. I personally was faced with the decision to continue to operate in person with clients like normal, early last week, but then I thought about how hypocritical that was of me. I am a proponent of practicing not only evidence based exercise prescription, but also defaulting to the scientific consensus in regards to healthy dietary patterns, sleep hygiene, and stress management when making recommendations to clients. But to think that I would choose this moment to go against scientific consensus and put not only some of my clients at risk, but some even higher risk members of their respective households, seemed to be not only hypocritical but downright ignorant. I have always had the mission to be a metaphorical north star for my family, friends, and clients in regards to all things wellness, someone who can evaluate and interpret scientific evidence and disseminate the scientific consensus in an easily digested format. Even in the face of absorbing a big economic hit, I deep down believe that action can be and must be taken without sacrificing the overarching principles of adherence to the scientific consensus that have gotten us all to this point.

It’s All Relative

In regards to the “big economic hit” previously mentioned, I do want to say that I feel very fortunate to still have the means for my wife and I to put food on the table and keep the bills paid. I am fully aware that the vast majority of people out there are actually going through a great deal of sacrifice and hardship on a scale that I can’t even comprehend, and we can all do our part to help ease the pain. None of that makes it any less real for every single person dealing with this new reality in their own unique way, but I am confident the whole of us will emerge from this better off in ways that probably aren’t even fathomable at this point in time. 

Speaking of time, I think it is also important to view this period of time at just a slice of the pie of life. To put things in perspective, if you’re a ten year old going through this period of say, four months, of relatively extreme and draconian measures, it’s going to feel like a comparatively big disruption (three percent of the ten year old’s life, 4 months/120 months). Take that same equation for a 50 year old (4 months/ 600 months) and it comes out to 0.6 percent. That’s a much smaller piece of pie, and the further you distance yourself from this relatively brief moment in time, the less significant it will feel. The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that although this is an unprecedented moment in time, it will become an increasingly smaller part of your life as time goes. Give it time. It feels big now, but give it time. It’s a big disruption for us all, so find the parts of your life that were consistently scheduled a week ago, and hold onto those things if possible. We as humans thrive off of a certain amount of predictability so maintaining a certain percentage of your normal schedule, even if by virtual means, is vital to mental health.

Challenging, But Exciting Times

If, like me, you have the good fortune of being in an industry in which you can at least attempt to continue serving your clients or patrons, you’re hopefully looking at the bright side of this whole thing. If one of my clients, or even me for that matter, sets out to attain a certain amount of repetitions of particular exercise or a certain amount of distance in a specific amount of time, and encounters a road block (wrist pain before a set of push-ups, blizzard outside before a run, or worldwide pandemic causing global social distancing recommendations before any exercise), it comes down to either adapting or ceasing to exercise. Everyone reading this knows deep down that ceasing to exercise or engaging in adequate amounts of physical activity is not an option, just like not eating, talking to your family, drinking enough water, or sleeping 7-8 hours is not an option either (assuming the prevailing instinct of self-preservation still applies). 

You look to technology and the outside world for help to not only maintain these vital components of daily life, but to retain your own sense of agency. I am fully convinced that whenever things start to progress to whatever the new normal will be, that every single industry and economic sector in the world will emerge with new ways to operate, communicate, and serve each other. It may take months and even years for certain people, groups, or companies to come to this point but it will happen. This is when we need creative minds to create, and to bridge the gap between the myriad of technologies available and the ways that those technologies can help, perhaps in ways that as of right now “we do not know that we don’t know”. To me, this is extremely exciting, and I know it seems extremely premature to envision the other side of this global dilemma, but it’s going to come, stay positive. The regret of inaction is far worse than the regret of action, so make moves, not movies. 

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I know I’m quoting some heavy hitters in this post, but Plato hit the proverbial nail on the head. How would we (whether the “we” is society as a whole, the healthcare industry, personal trainers, school teachers, or your own family) know we needed to adapt unless faced with a situation that warranted that level of adaptation in the first place? When things get back to normal, whether it be two weeks, four months, or a year, we will all be equipped with a more diverse arsenal in which to help others with. Take one day at a time, evolve, adapt, and most importantly stay driven to reframe the current situation in a positive light. What other option do we have?

Yours in Wellness,

Sam