• Cass Lau

Week 2, pinch me I'm dreaming

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

19th April 2020, Sunday. It's my mother's birthday and I can finally BREATHE. More like my brain took a self-imposed break and I am just operating on what I know. It’s week 2 of the #circuitbreaker and I’m already barely holding my shit together. As a background, the #circuit breaker was announced by our Prime Minister as a measure to pre-empt and control the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This initial announcement started a gateway which saw more measures put in place. Measures that I fully stand by and agree is for the better of our nation if we want to see any headway with the numbers. Just because I agreed with it though doesn't mean that I liked the chain of events that followed.

“It’s a whisper, then it’s a scream.” Chris Cooper of Two Brain Business

We had literally just moved to ACFv3.0, a spanking new location just a few blocks down from where we were and everything looked promising. We had programmes that we were preparing to run, New equipment we were going to set up, and two floors of gorgeousness and a swanky new changing room to boast of.

Day 1 at the box was 30 March.

This was a week before the #circuitbreaker, and I was advised to start social distancing measures at the box. Reduce class sizes, increase the distance between members, being more sanitary and wiping down our equipment, getting the cleaner to come in more, and taking our member's temperatures when they entered. Sure, I'd do that... anything to keep us moving and keep people coming. We already had a few athletes freeze their accounts because they came back from overseas and had to be put on a 2 weeks stay home notice (SHN).

We were lauded for our quick action in anticipation of the impending situation. Even then I was worried, my mind moving a mile a minute to think about what next? And that was the risk of moving fast and hoping you were moving fast in the right direction, otherwise... well, you get the drift.

We had to move fast. Everything fell off a cliff from there.

That Friday, the government announced the commencement of the lockdown measures fron 7 April to 4 May.

We scrambled to find a solution, whilst assuring our members that we would do what was necessary. I opened my social media to see news of gyms and fitness facilities announce their immediate closure, one after the other, and I waited in fear for the collective verdict of my partners, like a kid waited to get his teeth pulled out.

We were forced to turn the lights down on our new home. And rewrite EVERYTHING. The programmes, the timetable, how we taught class, the coaching schedule…

Our classes moved to Zoom!

Equipment was rented out, announcements after announcements were put in place… and we saw members freeze their accounts. My heart sank with every notification I saw come through, asking for us to put a hold on their account… then wishing us well.

At least they didn’t cancel. I’d tell myself, knowing deep inside that this would hit us later.

But what could we do? What could I do? But work harder for the people who were with us now. Our members, our coaches… and ourselves.

The last two weeks were a series of events that intertwined into a blur. I won't go into the details but applying for grants, organizing the weekly classes and events to keep the community together, plus a sudden demand for me to manage content and create website with my other business was taking a toll on me. (Well, my partners had their fair share of struggles as well and everyone was pulling their weight)

There were moments in the week that I felt like I was dragging my feet through quicksand, not knowing if each step was helping me get closer to the surface, or that it was sinking me deeper. I cracked one too many times despite the assurance that I had the resources to move on.

Throughout the week, people close to me showed their support and reassurance that they would give me whatever help they could offer. I felt unworthy of their help, yet so thankful that I had these people with me.

On Friday, I was asked the question, "who is God to you." And it hit me. God was the God of promise and one who remembers me.

He promised 251 Jalan Besar to me and He delivered.

He promised he would give me a business I was proud of and I come to.

He promised me that I would have a team I loved working with and that came to be.

He promised me that He would provide and He did.

and because He promised and gave me all these things, I had the confidence that we would ride out this wave and emerge victorious.

And in that moment, I recognized the value of this crisis. Hear me out.

When I got into the Actualize, the business picked up, not because of my ability, or our sudden business acumen, but a little cleaning up to a business that had heart would go a long way. And it also did because the economy was doing well. People were investing in their health and the fitness industry was BOOMING.

As the economy approached a downturn, something had to give way -- our immune systems were hit with a challenge.

We couldn’t ride the high of the economy for long. And to ride that high would be to ignore the hidden weaknesses that would be best exposed in a crisis. Actualize wasn’t built with a risk management team generating models to create iterations of worst case scenarios. And my greatest fear that “the good days won’t last”, came to pass earlier than i had expected. But really it was an opportunity for us to fortify our defences.

You see, people would usually attribute survival to the big boys, companies with a room full of cash, and the straggling strugglers would be the small-and-medium enterprises, i.e. Actualize CrossFit.

But who let those people decide how we were going to end up?

The COVID-19 epidemic could be seen as just one of those BIG blips in the lifespan of the company that is challenging our infrastructure. That either threatens to upset us, or WILL make us stronger. One of those moments that when we hit another crisis in our lifespan, we would look back and say: If i could go through THAT, I will go through this.

These two weeks felt like rep 45 on a really really bad version of Kalsu (100 thrusters for time EMOM 5 burpees). We were at a point where we had to push through because we were already halfway there. It was like all the tough training sessions culminated into this moment to test our mettle as we faced the crisis head on. We had to trudge through this long drawn battle with no end in sight, hoping that we would see the light at the end soon enough. (maybe we trained so hard for times like this 🤷🏻‍♀️)

I remembered what Sam (the co-director of the X45challenge) said to me last year. "It wasn't the best team that made it to the podium. The teams that made it to the podium showed two things: (1) good and clean reps, (2) the tenacity to really want it (to win)."

I held on to those two things, HOPING that they were the truth because I had nothing else to hold on to as I fought through the competition of last year. Skip to the end of that story, we got to the podium.

So as I peeked out of my quagmire I reminded myself that we needed to have good clean reps, and the tenacity to really want it. We had to do everything as advised by the government (and more), and we had to fight, tooth and nail to protect the community with everything we got.

Then we pray and hope that it would all be worth it.



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