Keeping Covid Fit With My 5-Inch Personal Trainer

When my NYC gym closed in March due to Covid-19 I figured the break was a sign to relax. Heck, my grandmother lived to 98 and she never lifted more than a six-pound brisket. After the WHO rudely placed me in the “Older People” category, (at 61!) I sat on the couch surfing Netflix, stress-eating salted caramels and Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels. For a couple of weeks I binged on My 600-lb Life which should have scared me into starvation mode but weirdly made me want to eat even more. I had to remind myself that we were aiming to Flatten the Curve, not fatten the curves.

Wearing athleisure 24/7 didn’t motivate me even as my iPhone showed my screen time was up 50 percent and I walked 287 steps that day compared to my usual 7400. I hoped all the cleaning and vacuuming I was doing would count for something.
Then I realized I was more than tired. I was exhausted. My lingering scratchy throat escalated along with debilitating headaches, loss of smell and a cough. I had little energy to do anything more than change the channels with the remote. Instead of a virtual workout, I had a virtual visit with my doctor, who diagnosed “the virus”. As friends were posting their neighborhood strolls on Instagram, I just longed to take a walk other than the one from my bed to the couch without getting breathless. The only sweat I produced was from a fever of 102.

After an anxious week, with a 2-hour trip to the ER followed by the purchase of a pulse-oximeter to help differentiate between levels of panic and oxygen, I recovered. I was eager to get healthy and strong and get my pulse racing for the right reasons. I started with some pre-taped classes, but I burned most of my calories jumping up to move my iPad from the floor to the dresser each time the instructor switched to a standing position. I banged my leg on the footboard and spent too much time fixated on a stain on the carpet.

A younger tech-savvy gym buddy did a spreadsheet of live Zoom classes so we could support our favorite instructors and stay connected. I signed in for a Barre class with Kimber (rhymes with limber). Wearing reading glasses while working out was a challenge, but it helped to see the shrunken image of my instructor and get a better peek into everyone’s personal spaces. I waved to the tiny squares with Ali and her baby in NC, Gail in NYC and Alex, back in London with her toddler and puppy. In preparation for a Yoga class with Mike, I even changed out of the Lululemon leggings I’d been wearing for three straight days. I spread out my sky-blue mat, which had been delivered by Amazon and apparently deemed an essential item. I prayed no one would notice the bra I had hastily flung on the floor while changing and hustling to Venmo my on-screen miniature instructor.

Finally I broke down and hopped on the Peloton planted in the middle of our extra bedroom. I admit that I was peeved when my husband bought it last year and intruded on my esthetics. But as I pedaled, an eight-inch, perfect ten instructor with a six-pack and a playlist shouted at me to get in shape. Now it’s the only way to get my heart rate up besides an episode of Homeland.
With some help from my millennial aged son I figured out how to watch classes with an almost life-size person on some SmartTV apps, however I don’t always get sound. And sometimes that person freezes in the middle of downward dog.

There are plenty of challenges. But I’m making it work. I woke with twinges in my thighs and muscle cramps in my butt yesterday. But this time I wasn’t concerned – I had earned them.


I wrote this conversation with my Google Home last week when we both still had a sense of humor. Wish I hadn’t smashed it with a hammer – didn’t know I’d be in desperate need of conversation!

Hey Google: What is the weather today? The weather is cloudy with a high chance of virus.

Well, I have to brave the food stores in search of garlic and toilet paper, so I guess I’ll substitute a mask for an umbrella.

Hey Google: What kind of mask will protect me from contracting the Coronavirus? A face mask will not protect you from the virus. And good luck finding one – they are very trendy and all sold out due to hoarding. Even for health care providers. Perhaps I can suggest an anti-stress facial mask from Sephora, but you’ll have to order it online, they are closed.

Hey Google: I’ve been to every CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens in a 10-block radius for a precious bottle of hand sanitizer. Will alcohol work just as well? Yes, you can substitute rubbing alcohol mixed with aloe vera gel, but drinking a shot of Tito’s might be way more beneficial at this point.

Hey Google: I had to cancel a trip to Florida for my father’s 95th birthday last week? Was that the right choice? Yes. It would be a danger for him and besides, the only thing worse than contracting the virus would be a 14-day quarantine in your parents’ Independent Living facility.

Hey Google: I’m worried about them… how do I check in and teach them to do a Zoom party? The only worse thing than the virus and getting stuck in Florida would be teaching your technologically disabled parents to learn Zoom.

Hey Google: Well now I’m worried about my sons too. Does quarantine at home mean they can’t come for dinner? Sorry, I don’t know what you mean. You want to cook and clean for two more people? If you are asking is it okay to social distance your children, don’t feel guilty, they have done it to you since they left for college.

Hey Google: Well, since we are home, my husband wants to watch March Madness. When is that? Every day this March Is Madness.

Hey Google: I meant when is the NCAA March Madness?Where have you been? NCAA March Madness has been cancelled. NBA games have been cancelled.MLB is ceasing play. NHL games have been suspended. Olympics have been postponed. Life as we know it has been cancelled, postponed, disappeared…

Hey Google: What the heck?! I’M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD! DisneyWorld is closed. I know. I was kidding. It was a sports reference. Now I don’t feel great and I’m actually getting worried.

Hey Google: What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?….NO RESPONSE

Hey Google: What are the symptoms of Covid-19?……. NO RESPONSE

Hey Google: Why aren’t you responding? Sorry, I don’t want to get a computer virus so I’m practicing social distancing. But the symptoms are a sore throat, fever, cough and chills.

Hey Google: What if I just have a mild fever and no cough? You may have the Corona-Lite virus.

Hey Google: Don’t be funny – this is serious. People are losing their jobs, their savings, their security and health. These are scary times. Do you think laughter is truly the best medicine? On the website they say in the 1300s a professor of surgery propagated post-operative therapy with humor. Ok I’ll try that…

Hey Google: What are the funniest shows on Netflix? One website lists The Good Place, VEEP, and Atlanta as the three funniest shows on TV, but you might prefer the films Contagion, Pandemic, Outbreak or World War Z.

You’re stressing me out. And I’m so bored I already redid my closet and organized the food in my pantry. Hey Google: How many Weight Watcher points are in a bag of Trader Joe peanut butter pretzels and a sleeve of Thin Mints? Aren’t you depressed enough? They said “flatten the curve” not “fatten”.

Hey Google: Seriously, I’m 61, how worried should I be about my risks of Coronavirus? The outbreak poses health risks for everyone, but the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

Hey Google: At what age is a person considered elderly? Continue reading