Staying active during quarantine with U of R Athletics

Swimmers are some of those most affected by COVID-19 but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some advice. U of R Athletics

Here are the Cougars’ top quarantine workouts

Like everything else in society right now, the entire sporting world is on pause. It is a unique situation where nobody is exempt; gyms, tracks, pools, courts, and ice rinks are closed, even for many of the world’s most elite athletes. Celebrities and average joes alike have flocked to Instagram and Twitter to share their home workouts. I reached out to some of U of R’s best and brightest to see how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their sport, and what they are doing to overcome those challenges.

Scott Joseph is one of the Cougars’ top track athletes, and he is hot off a U Sports gold medal in the long jump, where he broke a 45-year-old Canadian record. While to the average joe it may seem like track athletes would be better off because they can still run outside, for the elite athletes like Joseph, COVID-19 has been a huge blow.

“My training has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 to such an extent that it will take another year to get to the form I was at prior to the virus outbreak.”

“The biggest challenge is that I don’t have access to an indoor training facility.”

Going forward, Joseph had big aspirations to compete for Canada’s World Junior team, but after pulling out of the Olympics, Canada’s participation is unlikely [editor’s note: The  Olympics appear to have now been postponed to 2021].

“I still don’t have a plan on what to do. I am stranded with the situation. It is all like a predicament.”

However, in times like this it’s all about adaptability and Joseph is making the best of his situation by training at home. What kinds of exercise would he recommend to U of R students and faculty who want to stay active during social distancing?

“It all depends on access to exercise facilities and training venue. Personally, I will take advantage of whatever is available at home, such as spending some time on stationary bike for a decent amount of time. For endurance workouts I would go on the treadmill to do a few runs.”

Bennet Stusek was an integral member of the Rams’ receiving core this season. The third year Regina native, who played for Campbell Collegiate in high school, was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards in 2019.

As a football player, the biggest challenge for Stusek is getting in the volume of work.

“Obviously things have been very different over this period, with workouts and running being cancelled it’s been really hard to keep up the levels of activity that I’m used to.”

However, for Stusek, the biggest problem hasn’t been a directly athletic one. Laughing, Stusek adds,“Honestly the biggest challenge has been boredom. Just not being able to hang out with all my friends and teammates.”

So, without access to team training how is he keeping up with the grueling demands of football fitness?

“With no access to the university or public gyms it has been hard to keep up the levels of workouts. Our training staff has done a good job in creating a new home workout program. Obviously gaining strength at the same level isn’t gonna [sic] happen, but I’m really just trying to maintain the strength I’ve gained this season.”

I posed the same question to each of the athletes: What is the best exercise you can recommend to U of R students?

“Push-ups and air squats, but honestly it doesn’t really matter as long as you stay active.”

Bree Crookshanks is a star swimmer for the University of Regina Cougars. In 2019-2020 she raced to two medals at the Canada West Championships: bronze in the 100-metre breaststroke and silver in the 200m distance. How is a swimmer like Crookshanks impacted by COVID-19?

“I think swimmers are especially impacted by the COVID-19 situation. Swimmers spend the majority of their training in a pool, and without access to a pool, we are out of our element. Our training has completely changed as we are unable to do the things that we normally do on the daily basis. We have lost at least 15 hours per week in the pool, and this is near impossible to make up outside of the pool. It is a challenge to find an activity that can replace what we do in the water.”

Crookshanks echoed Joseph in saying that her biggest worry is a loss of hard-earned progress.

“The biggest challenge for me during this isolation period is the uncertainty of the situation. We are not sure how long we will be out of the water, and I have concerns about losing some of the progress made during this swim season.”

However, like her Cougar teammates, Crookshanks is staying focused by controlling the controllable.

“I am trying to maintain my aerobic fitness by going for runs and walks outside. I am also trying to gain strength and power by doing at-home workouts provided by my trainer. It is important to focus on what I can control and do what I can to maintain my fitness as much as possible.”

What exercise would she recommend to her fellow students?

I would recommend U of R students to try to get outside during this time of social distancing. Going for a walk or a run can improve not only physical health, but mental health as well. There are also many short, effective workouts on Youtube available to use.

Connor Chaulk is a dynamic forward for the men’s hockey hockey. Chaulk led the Cougars with 16 points in 2019-2020, contributing 6 goals and 10 assists for the Green and Gold. Like swimmers, Hockey players work in a different medium – ice. With all of the rinks out of operation, skating isn’t possible. How is Chaulk managing that challenge?

“My training hasn’t been as affected as I thought it would be. Since hockey just ended, we aren’t usually on the ice. But finding an area to work out and keep in shape has been a challenge.”

Like Stusek and Crookshanks, Chaulk sees the biggest difficulty as workout volume.

“The biggest challenge I have as an athlete during this COVID-19, is not being as physically active as I usually am or would like to be.”

In spite of this difficulty, he too has been adapting his workout routines for social distancing.

“The way I have been trying to keep up with my workouts is doing more plyometrics and conditioning. Some example would consist of long-distance running, hill sprints, sled pushes, to name a few.”

And for the U of R population? Chaulk suggests they just keep it simple.

“The exercise I would suggest is just making sure students are being active any way possible, whether it is as simple as going for a walk.”

also caught up with U of R strength trainer Carmen Agar to see how she has been adapting workouts and to see if she has any creative ideas for the U of R populace. Agar echoes many of the athletes in saying that one of the biggest challenges is the lack of social interaction.

“The biggest hurdle I’ve felt personally was the sudden lack of in-person contact with the athletes.  During the summer months there are always athletes that choose to leave campus, but it always occurs around the same time of year, which allows me to have a plan in place and to be able to explain that plan before we lose time face to face.”

Adapting to the sudden lack of face to face contact is something everyone has to deal with, and this has been a big challenge in the world of U of R athletics as well.

“My biggest challenge is the inability to see my athletes as well as the other clients I provide exercise therapy services to. So much of my job involves dealing with people in person, and now I have to rely on emails, text messages, video conferences.”

Despite these challenges, Agar is committed to bringing fun and exciting workouts to her Cougar athletes, which is something that requires a lot of innovation.

“Creativity is certainly the key right now. The more I can shift the traditional views of what fitness equipment looks like the more I can have success in terms of providing exercises and ideas to my athletes and clients.”

“For example, shifting the idea of seeing a soup can as a food item or a jug of milk as a beverage to seeing them as objects of different weights that can be lifted, pushed, or pulled similar to how a dumbbell could be used.”

As a trainer, what kind of alternative workouts does Agar recommend?

“I would recommend any exercise that can be done outside, allowing people to get out of their houses for a brief period of time and experience the fresh air. Activities such as walking, biking, running, and rollerblading can provide enjoyment while also functioning as exercises that improve cardiovascular fitness. Remember to do it alone, while practicing good social distancing!”

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