We have this new bug among us, COVID 19, that is wreaking havoc with our lives. So let me remind you, and offer a suggestion for the future, that we’ve been living with the viruses since the beginning of time. Indeed, the only people who don’t have to live with them are dead.
The question I pose is the how do we live with this?
We know so much more about these things than our ancestors did. In our vaccinated world, we are spoiled. It’s been a hundred years since the last big killer, the Spanish Flu, did its best to kill off humanity. TB is another one, and just about everyone knows about the Bubonic plague.
Aside from our meds, the other factor that helps us keep the damage down, is cleanliness. The COVID has taught us to be even more clean, by washing our hands much more. To deal with city life, we have learned to distance ourselves from others.
We cannot, however, continue to live that way. Virus and bacterium are everywhere. And there are bacteria that we need to keep, so we cannot go around killing everything off, less we kill ourselves off as well. So let’s look at new ways of living in order to keep the bad guys in check.
Maintaining our health is the first law to be obeyed. I speak of diet and exercise because so many of the co-morbidities that allow COVID to kill us are preventable, through diet and exercise. Two of the biggest problems are diabetes and obesity.
Our ancestors did not experience nearly as much obesity as we do. Diabetes was unheard of. This is so because they did not eat a highly processed, sugared up diet. And they kept their bodies moving out of necessity. Back in the day, even in cities, people walked about 10 times as much as we do. There were no cars to take them to a gym where they could walk on a treadmill. They did, however, have gyms.
In the West, our first introduction to the idea of physical fitness begins with the Greeks. They had outdoor spaces for a workout, and indoor spaces as well. But their indoor spaces were open to the outdoors. The Greeks are known for the Olympic Games, which the world, as it was known then, participated in.
The Romans too encouraged fitness. Nothing I’ve seen today can beat the Roman baths. These were huge communal baths, with hot and cold plunges, saunas, masseuses and atriums where one could work out. Women too were included in these exercise programs.
Exercise is not a new idea.
Let’s look at our modern gyms. Wonderful places for health, except for the bugs that linger everywhere.
My gym, Planet Fitness, a place I love and miss, terribly, is modifying its ways. The CEO has assured us that the machines will be spaced out more, that hand sanitizers will be more numerous, and so forth. Good, but I have another idea.
Why not return to the ancient ways?
One of the culprits in our modern world, and one of the wondrous inventions, is air conditioning. Before AC, there were other ways to cool down a building. One was with a cellar’s cool air pumped through the bottom floor of a house. Another was outdoor sleeping rooms on the second floors of houses. Yes, our ancestors had ways in which to be much more comfortable without electricity.
I do not say that electricity is the bad boy. I’m saying that items that run on electricity are not the only answers. I suggest that what gyms can do, to lessen the spread of these awful bugs is to rethink the way modern gyms are configured.
Here’s the idea; let’s go back to the outdoor exercise space. In places like California and Arizona, outdoor spaces are easy. But it is not impossible in colder climes. Think about the atriums, those half inside, and half outside spaces that can be used nearly year around in warmer climes, and all summer in the cooler locations.
Imagine, if you will, all those exercise machines spaced out among trees, with a breeze coming through from one side to the others. Or, a gymnasium building, built around an outdoor space, so the individual can choose to workout in the atrium with the sky above her, or inside but with the doors opened to the atrium to get the breeze wafting through the gym. (Roman atrium below)
Yes, I get it, gyms that now exist could not follow that plan. They are what they are, but that doesn’t mean they cannot adopt a few of these ideas. Since these gyms will modify their interiors anyway, why not add things like windows that open? Get some fresh air inside that gym. Put in sunroofs to bring in the sun to kill off a few of those germs. Even in cold weather locations, a sunroof is doable.
I look forward to returning to the gym. My habits won’t change because I was in the habit of wiping down the machines. But the treadmill has to go. Hiking is the new way for cardio work. That will let the sun kill off the germs as well.
I don’t worry about picking up nasty bugs in the gym. I’ve got grandchildren for that job. There’s nothing to be done about it. Those boys are my number one reason to be on this planet. Hugs and kisses are required. I’ll work hard to keep myself well long enough to see those boys grow up. After that, it’s up to the Keeper of the Cosmic Clock.
I’ll leave you with this summation. Be like the Greeks and Romans. Go outside tfor your workout.