Irwin Block on coronavirus: In isolation, we are getting back to the basics

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What some of us were doing last week to stay healthy and active now has been overtaken by the need to self-isolate.

I was feeling good about myself last week because I was able to take part in two activities that helped me be healthy and active.

Going to the YMCA on Hampton Ave. in N.D.G. has been good for my mental and physical health. I had signed up earlier last year and was going sporadically, following a workout regime recommended by one of the trainers at the Y.

It is a good program, but it is a solo venture, and demands commitment. In spite of the benefits and that special feeling one gets after the session, it was easy to slough off, for any reason, such as bad weather.

Then I discovered such group activities as Aquafit, dancing to The Groove, and Total Sculpt, all carried out to the beat of music chosen by the trainers. Working out in a group injects a community feeling to the process and it provides similar benefits to following a program on your own.

I had a great time last week attending two jazz concerts, one at the lovely basement resto-bar on St. Denis called Dièse Onze, where I heard the Big Band led by trumpeter Joe Sullivan run through some original charts, in two sets. Of course, in the shadow of COVID-19, there were not many more spectators than the 17-member band. I was happy to make a modest contribution to the cause of live music, and felt invigorated by what I heard.

I listened to two sets by a group led by drummer Jacek Kochan. It was supposed to be a quartet, but the saxophone player had to return to Ottawa. Still, it was a refreshing two sets, enhanced by a flute player who sat in to play a lively Wayne Shorter tune. I had a nice conversation with a couple sitting at the next table.

It was all too good.

On Thursday, I came face to face with the new reality when I trooped down to McGill’s Redpath Hall for a Beethoven concert in the Allegra Chamber Music series, only to learn that at the last minute McGill cancelled all such events as part of the effort to prevent novel coronavirus propagation.

All that is history now.

All the YMCAs are closed. Dièse Onze has closed until further notice. All concerts at Café Resonance have been cancelled until the end of March, and food service — it’s a great place for vegan dishes — is limited to 11 am to 4 pm.

I guess it’s back to long walks, more Netflix, a good book, and quiet dreams.

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