Despite the negative effects of covid19, social media is overflowing with posts from people using this quiet time in an enriching way. There are posts about people now being able to spend more time with family, in the garden, building furniture and reconnecting to things they enjoy doing most. These activities seem more possible now that the typical day-to-day obligations of modern living have been slowed.
International bodybuilding professional athlete and local gym operator Iziah Kanhai said while business has slowed and many plans for 2020 have been cancelled, he remains hopeful and grateful.
How are you feeling about the spread of the covid19 pandemic? Is it scary for you?
Initially, following its origin in China, it seemed far-fetched that it would ever reach the level of a pandemic. Gradually, as it spread and eventually touched home, it got more real and scary for me, honestly.
It is hard to sometimes sift through what is true and what is just fake – so I've been guarding myself from letting my mind run wild with all the incoming news.
Now I limit the amount of time and thought I give to it.
Seeing the population adapt and our number of cases decline caused my anxiety to subside greatly.
Have you experienced a major change in your daily routine?
I just moved back to Trinidad to set up a gym, Zion Fitness House, on Munroe Road, Chaguanas.
It officially got off the ground in March – which was when covid19 hit TT. The team immediately had to enforce limitations based on the guidelines stated by the government – until, eventually, we had to close.
The gym being closed has been a major change in my daily routine.
Apart from the slow pace in business, I always enjoy driving around or going to the beach. All that has changed...if I do get into my car, it feels like I can't remember how to drive.
I remain aware of myself and try to do as many things I'd normally do as possible, for the sake of mental stability.
Is there anything you have been able to do now that you didn’t have the time to do before?
I have always tried to live a balanced life, giving attention to family, entertainment and personal development and self-education.
However, with regard to business: the management team of the gym has more time to develop a virtual identity through social media platforms and content; time which we didn't have before.
Is there anything you looked forward to that has been cancelled? And how do you feel about these cancellations?
I am an International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB pro) professional athlete, and contemplated competing to qualify for the Olympia this year. The Olympia is like the Olympics for bodybuilders.
However, we have decided to cancel preparations for this year. Flight and country border restrictions remain and are likely to remain for some time.
I also planned to visit relatives in the US, but that trip is now delayed indefinitely.
Because of your interactive professions, how did you have to modify your operations?
We now interact with our clients who receive personal training virtually through Zoom sessions. A great deal of personal training was done online before this new development, so it was not unusual for the team or the clients.
In terms of gym membership, because we are fairly new and are still establishing ourselves in the industry, we have been working hard at creating content to grab people's attention and spread awareness. We have been posting inspirational/motivation content, modified home workout videos and even a few parodies.
We hope these give our members and following as much support as possible during their time away from the gym.
Do you think you will be able to maintain some of these practices if things go back to an increased pace?
We are now implementing ideas we had from inception but had yet to bring on stream – the first initiative being the online personal training service before it became a gym facility. We intend to maintain these fora and links to some degree once things return to some kind of normalcy.
What do you hope others will take from this time of silence?
There is so much we all take for granted. Not just health, family, and education institutions. We take the basic human right to freedom for granted, which has been limited due to covid19.
I hope during this time we develop a greater love and appreciation for family, community, teachers, doctors – every contributing member of our society.
I hope we will have a greater appreciation for our country, the natural environment and protect and enjoy the outdoors and all freedom to be and do as we please.
I hope we will be a more grateful, loving and caring people.