Part 1: When Life Gives You Covid-19, TRXize in Your Storage Cellar!

Adaptability and flexibility are keys to healthier and longer survival amidst large scale catastrophes and imminent pandemics!

Closure of medical schools, social distancing, and home-isolation is the ideal time for medical students to physically shape-up and to prepare for their medical board examinations!  

You have most likely heard of the proverbial expression of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, that is intended to promote positive attitude and optimism amidst adversities. What I’m about to share with you in this blog is how to stay active and make the best out of our social isolation.

Resolving My Personal Agony: For me, a 70-plus-year-old man, spending time at my health club has been the highlight of my daily routine. The executive order for closure of gyms and health facilities was issued and implemented at 3 PM on Monday March 16 in Michigan. As a result, I was forced to make timely adjustments and employ remedial plans to minimally disrupt my workout activities and maximally adjust to the anguish of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anticipation: I foresaw the closure of gyms about 10 days prior to its implementation. Like many other middle-class Americans of my age, I already had some cardiovascular equipment and some basic tools such as barbels and dumbbells in my house that I acquired over the past 35 years or so.  But they were all often neglected, as I loved to get out of my house each day and workout for several hours at my club. To give you a better feel for why I love to spend so much time at my preferred gym, I must make a confession! I’m sure that you can keep a secret and you love to hear it, firsthand, from me; don’t you! Well, here you go; “I’m addicted”! Aren’t you happy that now you know it! I’m addicted to seeing the lovely faces of many of my acquaintances at my favorite athletic club!  Their friendly and cheerful Midwesterner faces are my daily sunshine! They give me a sense of belonging. Each time that I see them, I’m so happy that we’ve all made it to another day together!

What did I need to optimally complement my basic workout equipment and tools at home? In anticipation of statewide gym-closures, my immediate thought was that it’s about time that I should order my own TRX suspension kit. For the past several years, TRX training has been an indispensable part of my daily workout, and alongside the dry sauna and swimming, it has had the highest impact on the quality of my daily workouts. You may be interested to know that ‘TRX’ doesn’t stand for ‘Tyrannosaurus rex’, it stands for “Total Resistance eXercise”! To make the story short, I ordered a TRX kit and it was delivered just a few days before the closure of my gyms. The next hurdle was where to set it up. After much deliberation, I decided to hook it up in our storage cellar. 

You are all invited! Well, today I love to take you into my home-based mini gym! So, please come in! Let us see how by adding some workout activities into our daily chores we can brush off the anxiety from Covid-19 and add more quality and activity to our home-confinements. As I walk you through my bare minimum gym, I will share my physical fitness principles that I believe are conducive to a longer and healthier life.

Rule 1: Never ever in your pajamas or nightgown! The fact that you are homebound doesn’t mean that your bed hours are extended to 24 hours. It doesn’t mean that you have earned an extended Christmas-like slumber party! It doesn’t mean that it’s time for overindulgence and boozing up! Move up your body, wake up and dress up as if you’re about to go to work every day! But imagine that each workday of yours is a Groundhog Friday; a casual one though! Did you say “TGF!”

Here is my best suggestion for your daytime attire: Put your gym suit on! Don’t forget your sneakers, all-purpose indoor shoes, or Sketchers! Just tell yourself that “today I’m aiming high again!” Then, grab your coffee and get busy! Some of us are required to continue our daily jobs by working from home. For those of us who are in tech industry, home-isolation is the best of all worlds as a computer and an internet connection is all that we need to perform our jobs. For students in general, and medical students, this is the best time for self-enhancement and advancement of their knowledge as they have no other major obligations other than learning and studying. For this reason, COMLEX and USMLE preparation is by far the ideal activities for most current medical students.

What if you say, “I have nothing to make me busy; no hobbies, no medical board exams, no home projects, no children to give them quality time or to educate them, nothing”! Then all I can say is “I’m so sorry and my heart goes for you! Maybe we can touch-base with your issues at a different occasion”! However, to give you a helpful suggestion, some people love to make use of the opportunity and clean-up and organize their closets, their attic, their sheds, or work on some home projects such as yard cleaning. This is the best opportunity to do what we’d wanted to do for a longtime at home, but we’ve been postponing for whatever reasons.  

Work-out, work-out, and workout! No matter what you do at home, working out must be one of your daily activities! My medical students who are studying aggressively for their board exams, know quite well that this is a must-do daily activity for them.

Get out of the house! If possible, include a daily outdoor workout in your schedule. Bike, walk, jog or run outside. Let fresh air and sunshine freshen you up!

This picture is taken on March 23 at about 3 PM, in a park that is about 10 minutes of driving distance from our house. I suspect that temperature was about 39 degrees of Fahrenheit!

Ventilate your house! Open-up the windows and let fresh air roam throughout your house for a short time. Don’t give the respiratory viral rascals their dream-come-true opportunity, blow them all off, let them all be gone with the wind!    

Break your workout time into more than one session: If you work-out, let’s say for 1 hour, try to break it into two 30-minute, or three 20-minute sessions of about 3-4 hours apart. This helps to raise your heart rate for two to three times and boost your energy and focus levels throughout the day. Note that as a last resort climbing up and down the stairs for a few times for so many times a day may do the trick for those of us who can neither go outside nor have any exercise equipment at home.

To be continued…

Dr. E


Also known as "Dr. Testbuster", Dr. Eftekar (Dr. E) is the founder, head coach and lead lecturer of the medical board training programs at Northwestern Medical Review. A unique attribute of Dr. E is his well-rounded academic background that, in addition to the science of medicine, extends over several other disciplines such as physiology of aging and longevity, philosophy of science and medicine, and integrated kinesiology.

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