How we can stay together while being apart


It's been an interesting time with physical distancing restrictions dictating who we can see, how far from home we can travel, which venues we can visit and even how we can exercise!  

But through this change we have also seen how with a bit of creativity and determination, we can all still 'come together' for some social and physical connectivity - even if it's in the virtual sense!

"I started to get inundated with messages from our members that were struggling due to the fact the gym was not open and they were not able to come in." Said Co-Owner of the Whitsunday Martial Arts Gym, Anton Zafir. "They were hurting physically, struggling mentally, they were stressed, finding it hard to keep their routine, missing out on their usual their release and not being able to train with others who were like family in a sense." 

But through this change we have also seen how with a bit of creativity and determination, we can still 'come together' for some social and physical connectivity - even if it's in the virtual sense. 

"The 24 Hour Challenge for LIVIN came about due to the situation we were in with the lockdown of the gym and my business partner and I wanted to find a way to keep our members and the greater community inspired both physically and mentally." Said Anton. "The challenge will run over 24 hours with a different supporter joining us every hour to run 2 kilometers as a way to include as many people as we could to participate but we're not all in the same place at the same time. It was also a great way to support an issue we are passionate about, mental health awareness, by making our this a fundraiser for the LIVIN Organisation and a way to start conversations. " 

Tara Edwards from the Heart & Soles Virtual Running Events who is hosting an initiate for the LIVIN charity, has also noticed an increase in those participating running 'together' while being apart. "Many members join our events as a means to keep moving and keep their mental health in a good place." Said Tara. "COVID -19 has caused major disruptions to life as we know it and as runners, it has impacted local, national and international running events with many being cancelled or postponed and caused a lot of heartache for those who were training together for their big milestone event." 

"Our Virtual Running group and challenge appeals to many people for different reasons as it enables people of every age and fitness ability to challenge themselves, achieve personal goals and make their running their own and still be part of a 'team', despite where they live or how they can train." Said Tara. 

Whilst there has been a definite increase in online platforms being utilized as an alternative on how people are interacting with each other socially, professionally and yes, even for their exercise and training motivation, there is still that element that people need to feel a part of a group and community, a sense of belonging.

"It's not just their physical fitness that benefits our members when they could train together at the gym." Said Anton. "They have a friendship group and comradeship in the gym that they get strength from and can lean on each other when things get tough.  That's why it was so important to create an initiative that brought everyone back together in a way, even if it's just through supporting the initiative." 

Anton and Dan from the Whitsunday Martial Arts Gym are encouraged about the response they have received so far for their 24-Hour-Challenge for LIVIN which will be challenging both of them mentally and physically. 

"I feel that physical health is one very large component to maintain our mental health which is why I am so involved in martial arts and fitness in general." Said Anton. "Being a high school teacher as well as being involved with the gym, I have lost students, friends and associates to mental illness and seen how it can almost destroy a community. We hope this 24 Hour Challenge that we're hosting will help in some way of supporting a great charity, bringing people together in these difficult times and improving the lives of those around us."

To follow and support Anton and Dan in their 24-Hour Challenge for LIVIN which takes place this weekend, check out the Whitsunday Martial Arts Facebook Page and throw them a like.  And if you feel like going for a run with some virtual friends for your physical and mental health check out the Heart and Soles Virtual Running Group. 

And remember to stay connected, stay in touch and stay supported.

#ItAintWeakToSpeak 

Article By: Kelly Malloy