Virginia is deeply involved in caring for the elderly who live in her district in the south of Madrid. “They are like my family,” she says. Before the pandemic, she would give fitness classes to around 500 people in day centers for the elderly, almost all women: “I am sorry, it seems that we females live longer than you guys,” she says, laughing. With the quarantine being declared in March 2020, Virginia was put in charge of calling 60 different people per day to make sure that they were all fine, to give them a little conversation and help them not feel lonely. “I guess that for a few weeks I overdid it; I was told that I had to spend 5 minutes with each person, but they are not numbers; they are people whom I know well. However, I ended up spending 10 hours a day on the phone, and for my mental health, I had to reduce it to 8 hours per day,” says Virginia. She would also be the link between the elderly and the community of neighbors, who would make sure that groceries and medicines were regularly delivered to each of them.
Virginia is remembered by many for probably saving the life of Carmen, who is 83. While on the phone with her, Virginia noticed that she began to make incongruous remarks, so, in agitation, she called an emergency number. Quickly an ambulance picked up Carmen. Virginia couldn't stop crying; she lives alone, too, and knows what that means. Later Carmen's daughter called to thank her. It was a little stroke, but she was now safe. Carmen, who looks much younger, said, with a smile, that she is a rose already withered.
Virginia was shocked by the effect that the long lockdown had on many of her students. She crosses paths with many of them in the street: “Many people got a depression. In just a few months, physical deterioration, a line of sadness in their gaze, loss of confidence. I could hardly recognize some of them. The elderly have been robbed of the little life left for them: they were enjoying going for a coffee, being with their grandchildren, attending classes of dancing, embroidery, painting, ceramics, IT, book-reading, traveling, etc.”
Virginia has returned to teach fitness classes, but now online.