Health and Wellness


As gyms start to reopen in light of the relaxed quarantine restrictions, more and more enthusiasts are making their way back to their fitness routines. In an infamous video that went viral over the weekend, a Filipino fitness instructor masked downplaying COVID-19 as “motivational message” for people to go the gym, with statements that are laced with derogatory and even body-shaming remarks. One thing is clear: insensitivity, misinformation, wrong use of platform, and toxic machismo are worse than the virus.

/ 23 September 2020

“Kayang-kaya mong labanan yan. COVID lang yan eh. Mag-gym ka kasi, kumain ka ng healthy. Umiwas ka sa bisyo. Yun yon. Yun talaga solusyon dun,” says fitness instructor Jormiel Labador in his now-deleted video. The message sounds harsh but fine but statements that followed proved to be more problematic and perilous than the former, if taken as gospel truth by the guy’s followers.

COVID-19 is highly contractual. It thrives in the air, it stays on a surface for a significant amount of time, and is transmittable in ways we may not perceive. Several studies around the world from our local experts to most prominent health institutions have proven the existence of this viral phenomenon. That’s why we now have tests to detect it, protocols to reduce its spread, and a nationwide quarantine to prevent further damage. And just like flat-earthers, there remains a section in our society that believes that it is just a hoax. Worse, people who belittle its threat and even spread misinformation. Make it make sense, right?

One thing remains true for all who wanted to prevent the disease—maintain a healthy body. And, how do you do that? By eating a healthy diet regularly, keeping your mental health in check, and staying active even at home. With the quarantine in place, fitness-savvy people had to resort to staying home to prevent contact. But now that we’re easing back to our regular normal lives with gyms reopening after months of lockdown, some have been itching to go back to the fitness playground to resume their active lifestyle and get their bodies back in shape.

Hold on! The MGCQ is not totally free from the threat of COVID-19. It was only a way to get the economy running again and that includes reopening these gyms. We empathize with the displaced employees of the fitness industry from the gym instructors, down to its personnels. While disinfection of gym facilities and equipment truly helps, it doesn’t fully diminish the risks. So, hearing a statement from a gym instructor that the virus is only an excuse for people to skip gym, there’s danger in words that can affect anyone who catches misinformation and thoughtless babble.

In Dora’s weekly vlog Sunday Palengke, he talks about the latest social issues. For his most recent entry, he dissects the vlog preview of Jormiel Labador, who expresses his frustrations for people who are avoiding gyms.

The lines were coated in superiority and insensitive remarks. Between the lines, there’s underlying statements that—if you don’t gym, you remain fat or skinny, you stay unhealthy and inactive, you will stay like that forever, go ahead and eat pizza and burger, you lock yourself away from your dreams because of a virus, the virus teaches us to stay healthy, and we can go on and on with many more remarks that only mean to sound “Gym makes you superior.” 

That’s the sad part. His intentions, although intended to ruffle some feathers were good—go to gym and be healthy—but it was apprehended with frustrations and ill banter. It leaves more excuses than answers. Skipping gym because you are “just” afraid to contract a virus? That’s true. And there’s no shame in it. The virus can render you either with symptoms or asymptomatic effects. The former is obvious, but the latter affects others without consent. They just receive the virus. It’s selfish in every way, and especially in a pandemic, a worldwide phenomenon, many lives are at stake. 

This kind of superior mentality can be dangerous because it shrouds thoughts with personal ideas instead of listening or making the effort of researching. It’s based on visceral understanding and refuses to accept information that does not cover their experience. It’s even more destructive because words can be sensitive. What about the people who were extra cautious but were affected by the virus would hear the gym instructor’s remarks pinpointing them for their sickness when they were even more careful than others? What about those who have become obese or skinn because of a medical condition,or were genetically shaped that way be called out with shame? It’s 2020 and we have to stop that.

In the gym instructor’s realization, he created a part 2 of his video to express his learnings from the viral stunt that was heavily criticized and has officially been deleted by Facebook. There, as is expected, he said that he only meant to motivate and inform people of the benefits of going to the gym, and the necessity of being healthy. But anyway, let’s learn from the words of wisdom from Dora’s coach.

“Life comes first.” Skipping a gym because you’re tired from work, or you went to an important event, or you have to attend personal matters are valid reasons. Because gym is only an avenue to keep healthy. There are other ways, true, but gyms do help. Again, everyone can be affected by the virus. Whether you’re healthy or not, you can carry its strain. That’s a fact, so better just avoid it. That’s why there are hashtags and global campaigns for it? To stay home?

We’ve seen these types of reaction or information videos that have triggered us in the past.  Like masks can kill you with trapped Carbon dioxide, or the famous anti-masker movement in the US that roots in religion and misinformation, so we have to be receptive as well in the information we get. Their intentions may not be all bad but it rubs the wrong way. 

Perhaps, let’s focus on the facts and not on frustrations. Wear a mask, stay indoors, maintain a healthy diet. These are all workable. Now, while we wait for the health crisis to dissipate, let’s educate ourselves and listen to credible sources, or just more reliable influencers.