Exercise and COVID-19

A webinar with Karlie Intlekofer, PhD

Dr. Karlie Intlekofer is a neuroscientist who focuses on the benefits of exercise for brain health and well-being. She has a background in research and teaching at the university level and focuses on exercise motivation and brain areas involved in stress, learning, and memory. Her passion in this field is bolstered by experience working with a wide range of ages and abilities as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor.

This is the first part of the three-series webinar with Dr. Karlie Intlekofer. In this part, she talks about the correlation between COVID and exercise and answers three of the most commonly asked questions.

The webinar was brought to you by Hidden Gym at Pegasus Park.

The Coronavirus changed the way we think about our health and made us more cautious about the things we do in our everyday life. At this point, in February 2022, COVID cases and rates of hospitalization are finally beginning to drop within the US. Most of us have already contracted the virus or gotten vaccinated.

While there was very little information about the virus at the beginning of the pandemic, now we know a lot more about the risk factors, treatment, and prevention. Some of the risk factors for severe COVID and complications include:

  • Age – the older you are the worst clinical outcomes;
  • Chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, type two diabetes, etc;
  • High BMI (body mass index) due to excess body fat. In fact, it seems to be related to having a larger waistline more than anything else.

There are a couple of reasons for this correlation between waistline size and getting terribly sick from Covid-19.

The first reason is that the Coronavirus spike protein might have a higher impact on those who have more visceral body fat (or fat around the waist). The fat cells around the waist have a lot of receptors for the COVID SPIKE protein.

Secondly, we know that as waist size increases, typically people are more inflamed, have higher blood sugar, and have more systemic inflammation. This causes their immune function to be impaired.

These golden arrows here are showcasing that exercise can provide tons of benefits for a lot of these different points. It can address a high BMI due to excess body fat, and it can help you reduce that waist size. Furthermore, exercise might decrease inflammation and help you cope with the blood sugar rollercoaster that a lot of us are on.

How does exercise affect the risk of Covid-19?

There have been several papers that have come out in the last two years on this topic. For example, there’s a very nice larger-scale study in the US on over 40,000 adults with COVID. It found that sedentary individuals have more long-term Covid-19 complications compared to active individuals.

Similar to this, there was a study out of Brazil that showed how individuals with higher levels of fitness, were less likely to suffer complications or be hospitalized than those who are in the lowest rates of physical activity. Your maximal exercise capacity is inversely related to the risk of hospitalization and the secondary risks of COVID that we know are particularly serious. All of these studies point in the direction that exercises benefit you and reduce your risk of COVID.

Can you exercise if you test positive?

Keep in mind that this decision should be made with the help of your medical care provider.

If you look at the research, just from an educational standpoint, it says that you can exercise when you are fever-free and you’re feeling okay. Take steps to not spread the virus if you’re still contagious, but exercise is a good choice.

In fact, with many respiratory viruses, we see better outcomes including less symptomatic days when folks engage in mild to moderate exercise (no more than 45 minutes). Shorter, lighter workouts can help get that blood flow and increase the recovery process.

Should you exercise if you are a long-hauler?

“Long haulers” refer to folks whose symptoms are persistent. These are symptoms that lasted at least four weeks. You can have long-haul symptoms, even if you weren’t hospitalized, or if you were mildly symptomatic, or asymptomatic. We see that about 30% of those who are hospitalized with COVID have some level of myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle. This will probably resolve but it seems to take some time.

There’s also evidence for brain damage and brain inflammation. Around 34% of covid patients report that they have some symptoms of brain fog, such as confusion, difficulty focusing, learning, and remembering things.

So, should you exercise if you are a long hauler?

Remember that your progress should reflect your symptoms. When you execute a workout, ask yourself questions like “How am I recovering?”.  If it’s taking you a really long time to recover and it’s extremely exhausting, then this may be something to consider as you plan the rest of your week.

Warm-ups really do matter here. If your heart and lungs are still inflamed, your cardiovascular system is going to take longer to ramp up to the intensity. Do a gradual slow warm-up and if you feel any symptoms, such as shortness of breath or pain, make sure to follow a physician’s guidance.

Furthermore, you should focus on short workouts. If you’re used to doing long and difficult workouts, it might be hard to set your ego aside when you return to a workout that is much shorter and easier. However, short workouts do work. It is simply not possible to regain fitness and strength without exercise, so don’t underestimate the importance of mild physical activity. It would still make a huge difference.

This webinar was sponsored by Matrix Fitness. Stay tuned for the next part!

Equipment Spotlight: Pendulum Squat

The most important thing that creates an awesome gym is the people in it. That’s the philosophy of the owner of Hidden Gym, Greg McCoy.

That being said, having great equipment and the right tools is another essential thing for an outstanding place to work out at. While the equipment for the most common drills is what members notice first, there are some pieces of equipment that can really take a gym to the next level, and make it a more convenient place for different body types.

This is the case with the Reloaded Pendulum Squat by Arsenal Strength, which you can find at the locations of Hidden Gym. This type of squat has been around for a long time, but unfortunately, is a rare piece of equipment to come across these days.

The barbell squat is probably the most common way to squat. While it is an amazing exercise, it might not be the best option for everyone. Barbell squats can be very limited depending on your body type, specifically, your femur length. Ankle mobility also plays a very important role in the squat depth you can reach. The pendulum squat solves these problems because of the way it’s set up.

Тop athletes in the world like Steve Kuclo, Flex Lewis, and even some of your favorite actors like The Rock like to use Arsenal Strength, and specifically the pendulum squat in their training. Here is why!


  • Allows you to reach a full-depth squat position, no matter how flexible your ankles are
  • It puts less pressure on your back and knees
  • Helps you build muscular and strong lower body
  • You can determine which part of the lower body you want to focus more by changing your feet stance on the plate
  • It’s a great addition to other squats or a replacement of barbell squats if you cannot do them for any reason


  • Built out of heavy steel
  • The machine is long, but it’s not very wide, so it doesn’t take up that much space, considering how big and solid it is
  • Huge and adjustable footplate that allows more variety
  • Dense padding made for a heavyweight – no matter how much weight you have on the rack, you won’t feel the frame on your shoulders
  • Suitable for members of all heights
  • There’s plenty of room for weights
  • 160 pounds of counterbalance that ensure a smooth squat
  • Superior design

Do you want to try the pendulum squat and experience the benefits of this movement? If you’re ever in the Dallas area drop by any of the Hidden Gym locations and give it a try.

Still not a member of Hidden Gym? Get your free day pass here and start working on your fitness goals in a friendly and motivating environment!

Know Your Opponent

By Greg McCoy

When it comes to reaching your health and fitness goals, most of us have heard, and tried, countless methods that focus on DOING. The perfect training split, the best diet for fat loss, timing your cardio correctly, tracking sleep, etc. We are going to use a sports analogy in the post, so we will call these things your “offense.” In a recently released must-read, Author and Behavioral Scientist at Wharton, Katy Milkman says we should borrow a strategy she learned from tennis legend Andre Agassi. The premise is very simple, but profound: Take your focus off your offense and instead focus on your opponent. Learn about your opponent – their strengths, weaknesses, cues, and tendencies. Once you know your opponent, you can craft the right strategy to defeat them. This isn’t new advice; Sun Tzu in The Art of War covers this topic in length.

When it comes to Health & Fitness goals, this advice comes with a twist. The opponent is you. You aren’t battling someone across the net like Andre Agassi.  Your opponent in this setting is something inside of you. But the principle still remains. What is it inside of you that is disrupting your goal? Identify that opponent and find a way to beat it.

Borrowing again from Katy, as well as some of my own additions – read this list and reflect on which of these “Opponents” you’re up against:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Laziness
  • Impulsivity
  • Procrastination
  • Confidence
  • Conformity
  • Awareness
  • Focus
  • Organization
  • Time Management

Identify your top 3 and rank them in order.

Now, the strategy for how to defeat each of these “opponents” is different. Katy’s book provided strategies for most of these and if you continue to follow along with [Hidden Gym] in our blogs and social media, we cover tools to combat these as well.  This is something we try to identify in our Personal Training clients to help advise them how to get from where they are to where they want to be.

Just to further explain the point, I will give an example.

Suppose, after reflection, you come to the realization that Organization is your top opponent. I use this as an example because when I really dig in with a client to figure out what their core issues are that are holding them back, usually organization plays a part in it.

Tactics to Battling the Opponent of “Organization”

Do you have a training plan or are you making decisions in real time about what to do?

  • Having your training plan in place takes important steps out of your day. You have a limited amount of bandwidth each day to make decisions; it’s called decision-fatigue. The most successful clients don’t use energy making decisions at the gym; they show up and execute the plan.
  • Having a training plan allows for visualization and goal setting ahead of time. The clients that are the most successful look at their workout the night before. They’re mentally prepared for the hardest movements and have goals for what they want to achieve in the workout.

Do you have a written goal?

  • Knowing what you’re aiming for falls into organization, in my opinion.
  • Have you organized your thoughts and desires into a SMART Goal?

Do you prepare your meals or have a plan for sticking to your diet?

  • Preparing your food the night before is the most sure-fire way to stick to your dietary plan. For those willing to put in the time to get organized the night before, they’ll reap the biggest dividends.
  • If you don’t want to meal prep – do you at least have a plan for how you’re going to stay on track the following day? Maybe you know you have a lunch meeting – look up the menu in advance and plan what you’re going to eat. If you show up hungry or without a plan, you’re far more susceptible to giving in to either your own cravings, the peer pressure to eat something unhealthy, or both.

Is your workout in your calendar?

  • Commit to your time.
  • You run your calendar; not vice versa.

Practical Strategy – MIT’s

MIT = Most Important Tasks

What are your 3-5 MIT’s for the day?

  • Write them down.
  • You lose the power of focus if you have more than 5.
  • If you accomplish these things, your day will be a success.

Example for health and fitness goal

  1. Eat 3 Healthy Meals + 2 Shakes
  2. Complete my scheduled workout
  3. Get 7+ hours sleep
  4. Drink 1 gallon of water

So as you can see, here are 8 tips and 1 Concrete Strategy you can use if your opponent is Organization. Organization may be one of your biggest opponents, or it may not. But the big takeaway here is that you need to first identify your opponent and then develop strategies to beat that opponent.

Motivation vs. Commitment

What’s the difference between motivation and commitment? Also, maybe more importantly, why should you care? This is an important topic that I like to cover with my clients and understanding this is going to give you an edge while tackling not only your health and fitness goals, but any goal you set for yourself. It’s something you may already know but might just not have clearly articulated it to yourself. Taking the time to think this through and following the exercises below are PROVEN to work!


Motivation can be thought of as the initial PUSH that gets you going, while commitment is the force that KEEPS you going. People often don’t realize that motivation is temporary. It comes and goes based on several factors. Somedays you will feel motivated; somedays you won’t. That’s a fact of life for EVERYONE.  You’re not the only one that doesn’t always FEEL like going to the gym. I have those days too. Life’s busy, life can be hard, you might say to yourself, “Man, I just don’t feel like working out today.” Let me reiterate the previous statement; EVERYONE feels like that sometimes. This is where commitment comes in. When motivation fades, you must be committed to achieving your goals. Commitment is having the GRIT it takes do the daily actions required to achieve your goal, even when you don’t necessary FEEL like doing those actions.  Let’s talk about a few things you can do to use these principles to your advantage.

Motivation myth: Motivation comes before you get started.

  • “One of the most surprising things about motivation is that it often comes AFTER starting a new behavior, not before,” says Mental Performance Mastery Coach, Brian Cain.
  • Motivation is often a RESULT of action, not the cause of it.
    • “An object in motion stays in motion,” – just like physics!

Let’s put this into context of your fitness goals. Sometimes, just getting to the gym is hardest part. On the days you aren’t motivated, if you can’t get yourself in the gym door or even in the gym parking lot, you will “lose” that day. So, knowing that’s going to happen, preparing for being unmotivated – how do we set up ways to just get there? If motivation is a RESULT of movement, not the cause of it, let’s just get you to the gym, and let motivation kick-in instead of waiting for motivation to come to us.

  1. Put your workout in your calendar. Schedule it.
  2. Have an accountability partner. Commit to meeting someone at the gym. Hire a trainer that’s going to be waiting on you. Tell a friend or family member that you plan to workout at 4pm today and tell them to ask you about it later tonight.

Motivation & Commitment Exercise (2 minutes)

  • Think about, or even better – write down, a time you felt motivated but were not committed.
    • Ex) In January of this year, I was motivated to lose 10 lbs., but I was not committed to the process, so I didn’t achieve my goal.
  • Think about, or even better – write down, a time you were committed but not motivated.
    • Ex) When I earned my college degree, I wasn’t motivated to pass my biology class, but I was committed to earning my degree; so I attended class, studied, and passed biology.

4 Ways to Increase Your Commitment

  1. Know your “Powerful Why” – knowing and consistently reminding yourself WHY you want to achieve this goal is going to keep you committed on the days you don’t feel motivated.
    1. Why do you want this goal?
    2. What are the benefits of achieving this goal?
  2. Have SMART Goals – I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but using the SMART acronym while setting goals is proven to increase the likelihood of success in getting what you want in comparison to vague goals.
    1. S – Specific
    2. M – Measurable
    3. A – Attainable
    4. R – Realistic
    5. T – Time based
  3. Breakdown long term goals into smaller weekly and daily goals – if your goal is a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month goal, reverse engineer it into smaller weekly and daily goals. The truth of the matter is that all fitness goals, no matter the length, can be boiled down to this:
    1. One meal at a time
    2. One workout at a time
  4. Accountability – as mentioned above, accountability can be a great tool you can self-impose to help keep you committed.
    1. Utilize workout partners – knowing someone is going to meet you at the gym can often be the thing that makes sure you make it to the gym.
    2. Tell a friend or family member your workout schedule and instruct them to ask you about it.
    3. Hire a personal trainer – with many clients, we see they need a trainer to fill this role. A trained professional waiting on you. Not only will they be expecting you to be there, but you also must commit financial resources, which increases your likelihood of attendance. Nobody wants to waste their money; so you’re less likely to skip the workout if you know it’ll cost you financially as well.

I have covered this topic with countless clients, members, and team members and it can truly be a light bulb moment that gets them on the right path to their goals. I hope that understanding the difference between motivation and commitment will shed some light on your own path and that through some personal reflection and putting these ideas and exercises into practice, you will be that much closer to getting from where you are to where you want to be.

Pegasus Park Adds New Weight To Their Campus With Hidden Gym

DALLAS, TEXAS, UNITED STATES, July 12, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — J. Small Investments presents Hidden Gym at Pegasus Park, a unique, world-class fitness facility, to their innovative Pegasus Park development in Dallas. Hidden Gym will occupy a 5,000 square-foot space in Building 3 of the Pegasus Park campus. The scheduled move-in date is late September 2021.

Pegasus Park is a 23-acre, mixed-use collaborative ecosystem and office campus designed to bolster local biotech, social impact and corporate innovation. The development features four components – commercial tenants, a biotech “plus” hub, a social impact hub, and entertainment/dining venues – and consists of more than 750,000 square feet across multiple buildings. One of the components of Pegasus Park is Water Cooler, a 150,000 square-foot space in the 18-story Pegasus Park tower that will be solely dedicated to nonprofit and social impact tenants.

The co-owner of Hidden Gym, Greg McCoy says, “Hidden Gym’s pillars are community, education and philanthropy. The philanthropic vision of the Pegasus Park campus is what drew us to pursuing this location. We are thrilled to be able to offer tenants of Pegasus Park a state-of-the-art facility to improve their health and reach their personal fitness goals.”

Hidden Gym at Pegasus Park will have memberships available for purchase to all tenants of Pegasus Park for private access. The facility features high-end, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, including brands such as PRIME, Cybex, and Eleiko to make up a fully-equipped weight room. The facility will also offer 20 yards of artificial turf, group training classes, personal training, and educational classes open to the public.

Yoga, high intensity interval training (HIIT), and boot camp group classes will be available. Hidden Gym also offers unique and individually-catered personal training online and in-person. The trainers perform a three-dimensional body scan on clients to then provide consultations, a custom nutrition program, develop a plan for sports nutritional supplementation, and more. The training program is delivered through an app and accessible from smart devices.

Greg and Tawna McCoy, the founders of the first Hidden Gym location in Allen, will operate the Pegasus Park location. The duo has more than 10 years of gym ownership experience in the Dallas / Fort Worth area.

For more information about Hidden Gym at Pegasus Park, visit www.hiddengym.net/pegasuspark or contact hiddengym@pegasuspark.com. For more details about Pegasus Park, visit www.pegasuspark.com or contact J. Small Investments at 214.351.6300.


About J. Small Investments
J. Small Investments is a real estate investment, management and brokerage firm located in Dallas, Texas. Founded in 1997, JSI specializes in value-add investments and identifying unique properties in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, with a special expertise in the Love Field, Medical District and Stemmons Corridor submarkets.

Allison Rhodes
Culver Public Relations
+1 214-352-5980

Peak Week

The 7 days leading up to a show are critical for being your best on stage when it counts. There are several methods we use with our clients to really bring the most out of your physique and create the most competitive final product. While every client’s peak week will look a bit different, we can generalize some of the methods we use and also help you mentally prepare for that week.

Your Peak Week Plan Document

  • Will be received by latest 7 days out
  • Is broken down day by day
    • Amount of water for each day
    • Cardio details for each day
    • Training plan for each day
    • Any changes in supplements for each day
    • Instructions for any kind of water manipulation supplements\
    • When to send your progress pictures and weights throughout the week
    • Fluid and meal timing for show day
    • Outline for day after the show

What it is going to feel like

  • Most competitors experience fatigue
  • Anxiousness is very common, the days go by slow
  • Training is anti-climactic – it feels unnatural to back off just before the show
  • Confusing – you might swap back frequently from feeling good, to wondering if you’re ready
  • Exciting – it’s not very often your physique can change by the day, try to enjoy the process and learn about your physique

Coaching Advice

  • Trust the process – you’ve hired coaches for a reason. Trust the process. Take notes and assess after the show.
  • Focus on execution – execution is what’s in your control. Put your energy here.
  • Be Prepared – plan ahead, don’t procrastinate, the less you have to worry about last-minute the better
  • Visualize success – visualize yourself achieving your goal. Increases confidence.

The 12 Week Training Block

Our last coaching video, The Training Year, (review HERE) discussed how we look at physique sport athletes programming over the course of the year moving up and down the pyramid from Offseason to Inseason and the goals of each part of the year. Hopefully you completed the quiz and that prompted some healthy reflection about how you can maximize your current and upcoming phases as an athlete.

Next up we will discuss the 12 Week Training Block. All of the [Hidden Gym] Programs are divided up in 12 week “blocks” that consist of 3, 4 Week Phases. This video discusses why we do it this way. Notes for reference are included below.

To test and improve your application of these concepts we advise filling out this short quiz:


Why 12 Weeks

  • Enough time to obtain substantial results.
  • Allows for 3 phases of “Adaptation.”
  • Average amount of time before needing to consider a goal shift or deload
  • Allows for enough changes, but not too many changes
    • The more advanced you are, the LESS variety you need
    • The more advanced you are, the LESS variety you need
    • The more advanced you are, the LESS variety you need

What Should Happen During 4-week Phases

  • Week 1
    • Gain familiarity with exercises of that phase
    • Begin to learn strength levels at prescribed rep ranges
    • Ask questions about execution or unfamiliar techniques
  • Week 2
    • Better execution of exercises due to familiarity from week 1
    • Weight increases likely due to improved skill, more so than actual strength gain.
      • You likely got more efficient, not stronger already
  • Week 3
    • You are very effective at executing exercises.
    • You are really pushing yourself to beat numbers from week 2, much harder to progress here than it was from week 1-2
  • Week 4
    • You have mastered the movements in this phase
    • You know exactly what you are capable of and come prepared for each workout with intention to beat your previous performances.
    • Adaptation to the exercises are taking effect and you should be achieving true gains in strength
    • Beating your numbers from week 3 is a BATTLE

The Training Year

Today’s video is an explanation and depiction of how the [Hidden Gym] Training Staff looks at The Training Year. To create the best results in our clients it is important to have a long-term plan in place. We recommend all our clients understand these concepts and attempt to apply them to there own training.

To test and improve your application of these concepts we advise filling out this short quiz:

Time Frames

  • Offseason 3 – 12 months
  • Pre/Post Season 4-8 weeks
  • In Season 12-20 weeks

Training Blocks

Our Programming: 12 weeks blocks, 3 x 4 week phases per block

  • 1-3 blocks per offseason
  • 1 block pre/post season
  • 1 block in-season

Training Year Goals

Offseason Goals

  1. Make long term improvements (bringing up weak points)
  2. Sustainable/Lifestyle Programming
  3. Improved Metabolism

Pre/Post Season Goals

  1. Properly Transition to/from Prep
  2. Mental shift to/from prep
  3. Focus on recovery
    1. Either being recovered and fresh to start prep
    2. Or recovering from prep

Prep Goals

  1. Achieve your physiques optimal potential
  2. Prioritize program adherence and execution
  3. Don’t jeopardize long term results

HG Owner to Speak at Industry Conference

Hidden Gym’s owner, Greg McCoy, will be speaking at the Upcoming Club Solutions Magazine event: CS Connect! This is an annual event put on by Club Solutions Magazine to provide education and important discussions amongst health club and studio owners. Greg will be on a panel hosted by ABC Fitness Solutions CMO, Cristine Kao. Greg will be joined by Mark Harrington Jr, president at Healthworks Fitness and Republic Fitness and Landon Burningham, the owner and CEO at Physiq Fitness.

The session will be titled: Zero to 90: Digital Member Engagement at Scale and is being presented by ABC Fitness Solutions.

Description: Digital member engagement has become an important driver of loyalty and, for many clubs, income as members seek more holistic and personalized experiences. Clubs and gyms need to consider how to leverage technology to expand beyond traditional programs and create new and resilient revenue. Join Landon Burningham, the owner and CEO at Physiq Fitness, Mark Harrington Jr., president at Healthworks Fitness and Republic Fitness, Greg McCoy, owner at Hidden Gym and Cristine Kao, chief marketing officer at ABC Fitness Solutions, to learn how to deliver a total fitness experience that is profitable and engaging.

Register to Attend Here: https://peakemediaevents.com/csconnect/

New Equipment on the Way!

Improving every day. Just like our members.

We are excited to add some upgrades and new equipment to the [Hidden Gym] Floor kicking off 2021. It’s our belief that a gym is not defined by it’s equipment alone, that the people that call the gym home are the most important part of what creates a great gym. That being said, having the right tools for the task at hand is very high on the list! We are proud to announce the following upgrades and additions:

Assault Runner x 2


Like running on air, but with a powerful punch. This treadmill is like nothing you’ve ever trained on before. Designed to simulate on-road running, the AssaultRunner burns more calories than an average motorized treadmill and is built with intense training in mind.

See it in action!

Precor 811 Treadmill x 2

The smooth-running TRM 811 is a premium Precor treadmill with a commercial warranty. Highlights of this popular club cardio trainer are a roomy track for runners, advanced shock absorption, a 4.0 horsepower motor, preset workout programs and wireless heart rate monitoring

Arsenal Strength Pendulum Squat

The Pendulum Squat offers an incredible way to work your legs. Small changes in foot position allows you to target various areas of quads / glutes and hamstrings. The movement replicates the squat but removes the pressure from the lower back and only a small amount of weight is needed to create a high level of resistance. This machine has an incredibly simple yet unbelievably effective design.

John Meadows “The MountainDog” Explains the Movement Here

BootyBuilder Platinum Plate Loaded Hip Thrust

Booty Builder® PLATINUM is our new and innovative plate loaded machine, which makes hip-thrusting safe, easy and fun, on a minimal footprint. Booty Builder Platinum provides the ultimate glute workout with its patented raised feet design allowing for a deeper range of movement and constant resistance for better results.The cushioned seatbelt design adds extra comfort so you can load up heavy weight. Linear bearing seat rollers makes Platinum easy to adjust to suit all sizes.

See it in action!