Hello! So it’s the 1st of December. Pinch, punch first of the month!
If you’re in England, this is the last day of the 2nd lockdown and we’re are going to see localised restrictions from 2nd of December. We’re also in the first week of advent.
But since 1988, this is known as WORLD AIDS DAY!
This is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease. On this day, and the days leading to it, you will see red ribbons worn.
The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and disease. (Actually quite weird calling HIV as HIV virus, as than means human immunodeficiency virus VIRUS, lol! But we do it anyway!)
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus.
One cannot transfer AIDS from 1 person to another, but HIV can.
A person with a “weakened immune system” would likely have worse infections from diseases like flu and…Covid-19! Those on HIV treatment with a good CD4 count* and an undetectable viral load are not considered to have weakened immune systems. (*In molecular biology, CD4 (cluster of differentiation 4) is a glycoprotein found on the surface of immune cells)
CURE. There’s currently no cure for HIV, but there are very effective drug treatments that enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life. With an early diagnosis and effective treatments, most people with HIV will not develop any AIDS-related illnesses and will live a near-normal lifespan.
SYMPTOMS. Most people experience a short flu-like illness 2 to 6 weeks after HIV infection, which lasts for a week or 2. After these symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any symptoms for many years, although the virus continues to damage your immune system.
This means many people with HIV do not know they’re infected.
CAUSES. HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person. This includes semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood and breast milk. It’s a fragile virus and does not survive outside the body for long.
HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva.
The most common way of getting HIV in the UK is through having anal or vaginal sex without a condom. Sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment and transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding can also transmit HIV. Of course, there’s also a low risk from oral sex but that depends on some factors.
WHAT TO DO. Seek medical advice and get testested if you think you might have been exposed to HIV. If you are positive (or negative) you will be retested regularly.
TREATMENT. The treatment will be antivirals. The aim is to have an undetectable viral load.
People living with HIV are also encouraged to take regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, stop smoking , and have yearly flu jabs to minimise the risk of getting serious illnesses on top of their treatments.
Anyone who has sex without a condom or shares needles is at risk of HIV infection.
There are many effective ways to prevent or reduce the risk of HIV infection, including:
- using a condom for sex
- post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
- pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
- treatment for HIV to reduce the viral load to undetectable
- if you use drugs, never sharing needles or other injecting equipment, including syringes, spoons and swabs
Speak to your local sexual health clinic or a GP for further advice about the best way to reduce your risk.
For people with HIV, if you have been taking effective HIV treatment and your viral load has been undetectable for 6 months or more, it means you cannot pass the virus on through sex.
Undetectable = Untransmissible
So this is not an in-depth view on HIV/AIDS but a quick and ‘good-enough’ overview of this disease.
This disease probably originated before the 1980’s and during the 80’s and 90’s, it was a taboo disease, filled with mis/malinformation (sounds familiar?). It still remains “un-talked” even these days!
This disease has been with us for a very long time and I personally know people who are living life with HIV.
This and the current Covid-19 pandemic are not far from each other. Both have relevances that are mirrored during these times. Both have revealed the best of humanity and the worst of it.
The essence of this “awareness days” is erm…AWARENESS!
IGNORANCE oftentimes become a precursor for mischief, impropriety and brutality!
There is still no vaccine for HIV!
I know this blog is quite long but I am hopeful that someone out there would find something out of it.
But hey, 24 days before Christmas and most of my gym classes are being reinstated this week. Online classes remain- though reduced…and Zumba® Masterclass coming in less than 2 weeks.
There are plenty of things to be grateful for.
I shifted my nursing career to fitness a few years ago, in the hope that the chances of being stressed out unnecessarily, would be at its minimum. And most of the time, everything goes smooth sailing.
In teaching and coaching, your main source of pressure is getting to your clients or class timely -or if you are a Zumba instructor, what Salsa music to use on your next playlist. Nice isn’t it?
However, prolonged periods of high sunshine creates thunderstorms. Every now and then, lightning strikes!
I was teaching one of my functional movement classes, showing off some moves where I focus more on ‘trying’ rather than actually achieving a move, flawlessly.
One of my students, who was already a regular to my classes, suddenly blurted out and refused to do the move altogether. I was curious about this new disposition. We’ve done the same move for weeks and she never protested, well not in that manner she manifested. I also knew she brought in someone to workout with her that day.
She said her body wasn’t proportionate with her arms. I disagreed nicely.
I said, “Try!”
She said, “No!” and sat on her mat watching the rest of the group attempting to carry on. (I name thee, mat tantrums!)
Didn’t push on her further as her body language and facial expressions were clearly not in my favour that time. All I needed was a curtain shower and a silhouette of someone with a knife to complete the scene! The rest of the class carried on as you all know by now, I see every one in class!
So after class, I decided to ask her if she’s ok. She said that she had multiple “medical” conditions which prevented her from doing the move I asked earlier. Again, I said I was familiar with all her pre-existing conditions ( as I screened them before) but they don’t affect the task I was asking her earlier. She said the moves are impossible. I pointed it out that she was progressing beautifully in the last few weeks and that the people she works out have shorter arms than she has (pointing to myself!). She mentioned this to me weeks before and briefed her on how best to approach it. I tried to ask and offer a quick assessment to see where she was having a challenge with but she started raising her voice saying that her body proportion wasn’t correct and that she would not want to unroll her mat again! She also blocked all my decent reasoning to explore the possibility of me helping her out. All my attempts were blatantly halted by a lot of negativity. Her male friend also tried to intervene but immediately told him that I am basing it on how I was seeing his friend move and just wanting to help out. Her friend was about to further defend her but I interrupted and pointed out that his friend was actually doing well up until that day.
In the end, I just offered her to stay in front of the class next time so we could find the best way for her to maximise her workout with her “limitations”. She had a bit of an eye roll. I thanked her and her friend for coming and to enjoy the rest of their evening.
So after everyone left, I found myself shaking -and with anger! I wasn’t really sure why. On the way home, I kept thinking and reflecting why I am really affected by it. I had more stressful confrontations in the past.
I kept asking whether I said something wrong or whether I should have said nothing at all. Also asking myself whether I have said enough it should have said less. And these thoughts went on and on and on.
This affected me too much that I wasn’t able to enjoy my food later that night. I wanted to know why I am reacting badly to such situation, especially with Zen-ish me!
So called it an early night.
Woke up with a better configuration and that ugly feeling gone. This new redemption did not make me stop thinking on why I reacted the way I did the day before though. This time, without the angst.
Firstly, I kept asking myself why I am still bothered with it. I particularly do not dislike her. I also wasn’t castrated in front of the class. Certainly, I wasn’t giving a bad instruction. Then I somehow seem to settle that it is because I was expecting everyone to think how I thought and that everyone one would have a go! I did not take into consideration that people could still resist change or appear to be ‘strong’ in front of their loved ones or friends. I forgot to take into account that she may have told this significant person with her during the class that she’s probably better or lesser abled in their midst. Due to our social distancing, my “hands-on” approach wasn’t there. Maybe it would have worked better if I can have physical contact and guide her through. (At least with this justification, I could blame Covid-19) However, I knew I am a good coach and could conjure a spell, even with a stare. (Well, almost!)
I may never really fully realise the reasons for my reactions but the fact that my prolonged thinking about it made me realise that these things do happen. Maybe sometimes, some arguments are better left unattended and some remarks need not to be entertained. Maybe she has other issues and found the best moment to bring it out that time was, towards me!
In the future, I would need to make sure that I do not take things maybe not personally and focus on the rest of the class, who were actually taking all those good tuition seriously. Maybe I was focusing more on the lost lamb too much.
I just hope she finds her way back in my classes and not waste her efforts wasted. There are times, and I’ll talk about this again in the future, that people around you affect your productivity in all aspects of your life.
For the meantime, I will try to find ways on not creating electrical charges whilst teaching.
*”Kuwabara kuwabara” (桑原桑原) is a phrase used in the Japanese language to ward off lightning.
So, I was composing a long announcement and it turned out to be so long. Hence, I’ve blogged it instead.
Last few days in July and some gyms and leisure centres were finally re-opened on 25 July in the UK.
Kentish Town Sports Centre (part of BETTER gyms), joined the nationwide phased re-opening, and have asked me to instruct some classes on their interim timetable. So, I will be teaching the following classes :PILATES 18.15H and CORE CONDITIONING 19.15H classes on TUESDAYS, THURSDAYS and FRIDAYS. Now, although this is a back-to- back class, you won’t be allowed to book another class nor any activity (I.e. gym or swimming) per day. Also, there’ll be concierges and site managers guiding you from the new entrance, up until you meet me up in the studio, and allocate your workout spaces, then eventually, guide you out of the building through the designated exit, which will lock behind you. Instructions on activities and COVID-19 protocols should be on your booking app. A max of 15 participants are allowed in the studios (well marked on the floor!). I also encourage you to bring your own mats if you can. They have done the best they could do in accordance with the government guidelines (and more!) and going through the process, I feel quite assured in teaching. Although I know there’ll be some issues especially on the first week, the staff are ready and available when we need them. Also, make sure you read about water stations and toilet use as once you leave the studio, you won’t be allowed to come back. Also, be on time. If the class is 18.15H, we are let in at 18.15, we start at 18.25. Giving us enough time to clean our designated station areas ( it’s really massive) and leave the class just before 19.00H. I’ll then let you out of the building! You can wear all PPE by choice throughout the class. Also would like to thank this company (BETTER) as they carried on paying me throughout the lockdown and really making me feel that it is more important to take care of us instructors and their members. They sent us regular emails to keep us updated throughout lockdown. So when they offered classes to me, I just had to choose which one (I declined about 8 more classes) rather than think whether to carry on working with them or not. Their name suits them perfectly!
Virgin Active CLUBS culled a lot of classes and instructors, aiming to have world-class classes and instructors with high ratings to continue delivering quality classes. I made the cut and have re-offered me all my Zumba classes back, with opportunity to take more classes. However, all Body Conditioning classes in Virgin Active were all removed. The CITY clubs will have a delayed opening by August whilst the rest have already re-opened, again with a modified timetable. I will update you whether I will accept these offers in the end.
With regard to Fusion Company, Tottenham Green and park Road Pools & Fitness, they have not been in touch at all with me or the other instructors on gym re-opening and not re-opened at all, except for LIDO swimming in Park Road (Crouch End). All my queries were never returned. So…a bit lost with them.
Online Classes: they are still on! (Woohoo!) Almost all usual online classes with me are carrying on. Also looking at adding more or combining workouts. So hey, keep coming! Comment below for class suggestions as finishing the timetable soon!
With regard to my therapy clinic, I am unable to re-open my regular venue still. Although officially allowed to re-open on 13 July, my clinic is in Tottenham Green Pools & Fitness, which isn’t re-opening. Just looking and considering other alternative venues or possible home visits in the meantime. I will try again to get in touch with the centre or management to have a less hazy restart date. So, if you have a spare garage room or commercial space for me to have for the meantime, please let me know. Also, trying to buy a new massage table and other equipments -as all my equipments remain locked in the centre! I know you are “aching” to see me!
But yes, ZOOM classes and personal training are here to stay! Check out my other online coaching as well. I will be updating all my timetable, both live and online on the sidebar of my website.
This will be the year we make the most of everything and most importantly, make sure we take our own responsibilities (and wit)to stay safe and still, save lives.
Thank you very much for all your support since and especially throughout lockdown. There were loads of proven loyalties and new friendships forged during these trying times. I am strengthened with all your gratitude and stories inspired by all of you taking part in my online classes. My passion for this work, which I love, burns brightly.
Again, comment and/or keep in touch!
For the last 14 years or so, I have been living in a basement flat -(i.e. apartment U.S.), at the heart of Notting Hill in London UK. Just made me realise that living in it have changed my mindset.
First of all, basements have their own weather systems. Nice summer’s day outside means 7-8 °C off in my place! That is actually quite a good thing -until winter comes when you spend your time making sure you do not end up having frostbite! Again, just like the rainforest, the levels of humidity is usually quite higher, encouraging damp, mould and peeling wallpapers. So, I have a dehumidifier in kitchen and toilet as it goes under the street. However, my main room is deprived of humidity that I need a humidifier. The toll on my skin and breathing sometimes could be quite impactful.
However, they are the quietest place to live in. It is also dark especially when the lights go out. Perfect for sleeping – up until you get up in the middle of the night, navigating blindly towards the toilet and sustaining some bruises in the morning. You usually get diminished road-driven noises from passing cars (or screeching teenagers!). Sounds exciting, until you find out that your flat is placed near the building’s boilers! So every time, someone uses hot water for their washing up, shower or laundry, it starts to rumble. Then, just to make the soup a bit more spicy, the flat above me has their sewer pipe going through the other side of my wall! So, every time something goes down the pipe, it feels like a stampede! Sometimes the boiler and the stampede just goes together. Then the humidity…feels like Jumanji! So imagine me on my first week in the flat! A spear on one hand and an umbrella just in case! Then when the cat moved in about 7 year ago, I had to teach him on how not to do a “Cirque du Soleil” every time the great flusher went!
Now, I do not have a garden but I have some steps leading to the pavement (i.e. sidewalk U.S.) which caters to my container-gardening. All sounds good but there’s one more thing I failed to mention – all the buildings’ rubbish bins (i.e. garbage U.S.) are just located opposite my nice big windows! I have a rubbish cavern. Although we have a very good rubbish collection from the Council, the stench during a heated day could be empowering. There are also some lazy unbothered residents who decide to do a hammer throw towards the bins sometimes. So everyday, I water the plants and tidy after these “athletes”. I am not kidding but I did witness a flying used prophylactic just thrown out from the 4th floor flat! I had to report it to the landlord with a giggle. He followed it up with a building memo not to let their excitement fly out of the window and/or flushed down. Good for me as it minimises the stampede. Either or, it would have affected me. To be fair, there are 3 basement flat-bin areas in the building. However, in comparison, my share seem to be always full. I did a survey (basically nosing someone using my bins) and she said that the steps leading to my area was always nice and inviting -and my cat always says hello on the steps! So, I maybe at fault in a way for causing all these rubbish!
So, how did living in this place help me? I looked at things differently. If I want to know the weather, I could not rely solely on “Alexa” (Amazon device) but would need to go check things outside before I get dressed. I have to desensitise myself to the thunderous pipes and the mild seismic activity of the boiler. Even the cat got used to it in the end. So when I am somewhere noisy, I could tolerate noise better than other people would and block people off deliberately. I became more creative, turning dingy areas into an oasis (and I’ll show this later on!). Also, embraced being Victorian in winter and somewhat dressed like Tarzan in a heatwave! All sexy!
So basically, you appreciate things more when you go out! Remember, I look at out on a white wall and just a foot of that, the bins! So, when you see me doing a Sound of Music in Hyde Park, you know why!
I do love my basement flat!
P.S. In the EU/UK, the Groundfloor is not the 1st floor. Anything lower than a basement, could be a cellar. Lower than that? Worrying.
So indoor gyms remain closed! Following the UK announcement that some facilities and services are finally opening from 4 July, studio teaching or my massages are still off, for now!
There are simply too many things we still don’t know about Covid-19. Does it mutate? Has the weather affected or affecting it? We are learning about this disease day-by-day. So, I guess, balancing the economy and general public’s health will look like this for a while: OPEN BUT NOT QUITE YET! Although the UK lockdown was not as extreme as other countries, we still had the door chain applied and not bolted shut. Now, the easing of the lockdown, released the final constraint. However, we were always reminded not to wander off sight of the door or avoid being locked out!
Oh and the weather! You know that the weather is the topic in the United Kingdom, since erm… forever! In the last few days, we hit more than 30° C and for the UK, that is a very big deal! It’s like getting the new iPhone model or flower to a bee! We are deprived of the sun and when it comes, every square inch is filled by burnt bodies, glistening like solar panels – recharging the melanin in our skins. I, coming from a country that glorifies “pale is beautiful!” , has gone to the other side and has embraced the sun more when it is available as well.
Now, going back to Covid-19. It really hasn’t gone yet and it is likely unfortunate that someone still will get it badly, whether it’s you or a love one or a passer-by. We had a lockdown to break the chain of infection and it’s a shame to put all our collective efforts to make it go away. It’s like going on an expedition. Carefully rationing all your toils and supplies so that you can reach your destination (which we’ll pretend as Mt. Victual). Then at the very sight of the mountain, you exhaust all your supplies and do non-stop cartwheels instead! Silly isn’t it? Next thing you know, you do not have anything left and you simply won’t have the energy to go further nor retract back. Then the blame game starts! The government can only do as much and set guidelines, it’s up to each one of us on how we could use it for our own benefit. Sadly, some people love looking for loopholes and I will talk about these people again in the future.
Sacrifices are there because we know or hope that it will pay off in the end. People do get confused with it as forfeiting some privileges doesn’t mean rewarding yourself every time you do a step towards it. It is much more meaningful and sensible to reward yourself once you fulfilled what you set out to do. Then you can eat everything from Mt. Victual!
I know the sun or opening of Primark (boink!) drive people excitedly but try not to be distracted so much on what we are really trying to accomplish. You can always stand up for something but you need to make sure that the area you are standing on is also stable and free from immediate and/or long-term danger. Don’t lose your wits for some frenzy. Think of yourself and the people you interact with.
Maybe further your lockdown creativity on how to enjoy the sun a bit safer and more guilt-free! But for now, be sensible and stay safe! Health is wealth!
Remember, if you feel unsure about being right, being kind is always right!