Tamika Harden: Coronavirus survivor – Recovering through fitness and wellness


Young, strong and the vision of health – on the outside, it would be hard to tell Tamika Harden, a personal fitness trainer from NYC, was struggling with the early symptoms of Coronavirus. Training over 200 women a week used to be a breeze, but one morning Harden awoke feeling as though she’d been hit by a truck. Immediately aware that something was very wrong, Tamika sought to get tested for COVID-19 – a request she was denied twice before eventually testing positive.
Amidst a time of confusion, mass panic and misinformation – Tamika Harden shares her story to offer a light at the end of the tunnel for those currently struggling with the effects of the virus, teaching us how to bounce back safely and responsibly.
Early signs and symptoms
Like any early sign of infection, Tamika’s symptoms at first appeared mild. Shrugging it off as a typical cold, she resumed her intensive schedule as normal – until she simply couldn’t.
“For most of my illness I didn’t know what I had, so I treated it like I would treat anything that holds me back,” the successful businesswoman explains. “My response is to fight. However, my very first workout after experiencing symptoms immediately told me something wasn’t right with my body. I felt fatigued and light-headed – feelings that aren’t normal for me.”
The NHS states the two most notable symptoms include a high temperature and a new, continuous cough. But as is the case with most viruses, symptoms can vary dramatically depending on age, health concerns and varying strains contracted.
For Tamika, an incredibly active and healthy female in her 30s, the original signs of the illness were incredibly mild. “I felt lethargic and lightheaded,” she recalls. “I rested for 1-2 days and then I resumed my work schedule. By the following Tuesday – approximately 5 days later – I felt as if I’d been hit by a truck. I couldn’t get out of bed, I had no appetite, I couldn’t smell nor taste and I had experienced a heavy and rapidly recurring cough.”
This wasn’t like any ‘normal’ cough, though. Harden explains that the cough was so frequent and irritable that it felt as if her chest was vibrating each time she coughed – causing pain and discomfort not typical of the common cough. Above all, it was the extreme lethargy and debilitating fatigue that alerted Tamika to a more serious illness at play.
Prompted by the severity of her symptoms, Harden sought out testing immediately. After being denied twice by healthcare professionals, the personal trainer finally scheduled an appointment to get tested. The process that followed is as orderly as you’d imagine – albeit with a modern Orwellian feel thanks to the drive-thru nature of the operation.
“Testing locations are in a drive-thru setup to prevent the spread of the virus,” she recollects. “Upon arrival, one is instructed to keep their windows rolled up and to communicate with the attendant through the glass.”
From here, patients are instructed to show their ID card so the information can be verified. After verification, a swap is passed through a small crack in the window and inserted up the nose.
It was a surreal experience, but one that proved Tamika’s concerns to be true. Approximately five days later, she received the petrifying call stating she’d tested positive for Coronavirus.
Stopping the Spread
Due to the state of mass panic at the time – Harden’s initial reaction was understandably one of crippling worry, largely related to concerns she had spread the virus further.
Initial shock abated, Tamika’s thoughts soon transformed into ones of gratitude. As her symptoms first manifested in the early stages of the US’ national lockdown, she had very limited exposure to clients as well as loved ones and therefore eradicating fears she could have transferred the virus to others.
But after being denied testing at her initial stages of illness – it certainly could have been a different story. “If it wasn’t for the lockdown, there’s a chance I could have infected countless people because I was considered an asymptomatic carrier, which presents huge problems when stopping the virus’s spread,” Harden explains.
Not everyone was safe from harm, though. Unfortunately, Tamika’s nanny fell seriously ill with COVID-19 shortly after Harden received her diagnosis. With her symptoms significantly more apparent than Tamika’s, concerns were raised for her recovery. But thanks to homeopathic remedies prescribed by her mother, she too was soon on her way back to full health.
As a successful fitness trainer and life coach, Tamika Harden is programmed and trained to be strong. But when faced with the prospect of a deadly virus – nobody is immune from feelings of concern and anxiety.
That said, it didn’t take long for Tamika to incorporate her mental and physical strength into her recovery. “I took on COVID-19 the same way I’ve taken on adversity and many other obstacles in my life,” she tells Student Pages. “I fought back and I won. I Immediately took to what has helped me for over 15 years – my healthy lifestyle. I nourished myself mentally through prayer and meditation. I fed my body well through proper nutrition, and the days I felt well enough – I exercised. I believe my positive mindset and my state of health made me fit to fight.”
Of course, not everybody has as fortunate foundations as Tamika did to fight off the symptoms. For those considered at risk – total rest is recommended, and physical activity is not advised while symptoms are at their peak.
Instead, your body acts as your best communicator. For those not considered at risk, however, exercise may play a remedial part in getting back on your feet. “I managed to stay active throughout the illness and it helped tremendously,” the fitness coach urges. “There were days that I couldn’t move at all – but the best advice is to listen to your body. When [you] feel well enough, I advise resuming physical movement right away. This virus wants to knock the body down so it can further attack. It’s important to combat the virus with the right methods.”
If physical activity is out of reach, Tamika recommends upping your fluids. “Staying hydrated is important,” she stresses. “Vitamins that boost your immune system are also essential. I didn’t have an appetite, but I would force myself to juice and drink natural fruits and vegetables.”
Staying Positive
COVID-19 isn’t just affecting our world physically. Mass panic, lack of social contact and a disruption of routine has altered self-care routines across the globe, impacting negatively on mental health. What’s important to remember, stresses Harden, is that these feelings are totally normal.
“I tell my virtual clients and virtual community everyday ‘together, we will survive quarantine and we will come out better than before’. Tough times don’t last, tough people do! The best way to combat COVID-19 is to be proactive. It’s important to focus more on the things we can control and less on the things we can. We can choose to take action and begin to live a healthier lifestyle. You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have. Now is the time to be strong!”
Hang on in there, she advises – and we will get through this together.
Gabriella Wieland
Author: Gabriella Wieland

Gabriella Wieland is a writer and English Literature graduate. She spends most of her time trying to keep her mini-poppadom obsession at bay and finding adventures of the ‘free’ variety. Residing in Manchester, she also spends much of her time liaising with scientists to find a geographical cure for eternally-grey skies and Vitamin D deficiency.