March 24, 2020 Covid
We’re at 415.000 infections worldwide and Instagram wants me to get ripped. Scrolling through my feed today, I was bombarded with a variety of ads imploring me to pick up an indoor fitness routines. Each seems to include lots of topless planking and a succession of fast, angry crunches. Somehow, the algorithms have concluded that in times of crisis I must be obsessing—American Psycho-style—about optimizing my body for distant beach vacations.
I saw a tweet the other day in which German writer Ronja von Rönne speculated that most people would probably “learn to speak Japanese and how to plank for hours” out of sheer boredom while she grows increasingly sad and despondent.
The truth is that the crisis is giving an interesting twist to sports activities. With all “sporting grounds” closed indefinitely, some instructors have moved online: There’s suddenly a huge supply of online yoga courses that you can take part in via video link. And although rolling out the yoga mat in the living room in front of a laptop felt a bit strange at first, it is surprisingly… alright. Certainly not like being in a yoga studio, but totally acceptable and in some ways surprisingly advantageous: There’s no commute to the yoga studio so you can simply interrupt the work-from-home workday for a quick class. You can take classes at just a moment’s notice, and technically even in other cities or countries. Within days, an entire online economy has sprung up around this, and Rocío and I now barely bother rolling the mats up any more.
Of course you are technically still allowed to go outside for exercise, though it’s supposed to be by yourself. Flo remarked that parks are full of people who “clearly don’t usually go running”, and each run has become an awkward people parcours, since pedestrians jump out of your way to keep the 1.5 meters of mandated distance as you jog up to them.
It certainly doesn’t help the social distancing rules that the weather in Berlin has been absolutely stunning, with electric blue skies and sun at all hours. People want to be outside, sports are the excuse of the hour, and so everyone goes. The paradox being that under normal circumstances way more people would be happy to close their curtains and watch Netflix, but now, with the government telling us to please stay home, everyone feels like they need to go out at least a little bit. We haven’t quite reached the point where people are openly rebelling, but they’re certainly trying to make a point, if only to themselves.
Thank god for online yoga, or the streets would likely be full.