How Willamette’s student-athletes are staying in shape
When Willamette University decided that all classes would move online for the rest of the year and that upcoming spring sports seasons would be cancelled, returning student-athletes were faced with a challenging question: what were they going to do in order to stay in shape? With the closing of Sparks Fitness Center and other gyms in the Salem area, these athletes had to figure out ways to safely stay in shape for their upcoming seasons. Some athletes have access to personal weights sets and can lift from their own homes. Others have had to get creative in order to achieve their offseason goals.
Local gyms in the Salem area have started posting workouts on social media for anyone to participate in. Many of these workouts are designed so that the participant doesn’t need to use weights, but rather their body weight to determine the reps needed. Additionally, participants are encouraged to go outside and run, walk or hike.
Football head coach Isaac Parker explained how the football team is staying in shape. With students all over the place, the coaches send out workouts for every week digitally. Parker said, “We send out workouts that our players can either do with weights, or with bodyweight as a measurement.” This is a way to ensure that players without access to weights can still stay in shape.
Parker also explained the process of keeping in touch with all of his players: “We have Zoom meetings every Tuesday and Thursday… our coaches are also staying in touch with both our academic success platoons as well as our position players.”
The team splits up into six groups, or “platoons.” Each platoon is led by a coach and student-athlete captains. These platoons meet to achieve academic goals and to compete in friendly competitions during the offseason. Although it is important to remain in shape, Parker emphasized that academics still come first.
Sophomore Carson Pies explained what this new process looks like for him. Every week, he receives a week’s worth of at-home workouts. When asked about having to improvise workouts due to lack of equipment, Pies said: “We focus a lot more on core, now that that’s the easiest thing to work on due to lack of accessibility to weight room equipment. Lots of variations of pushups, wall sits, air-squats and squat jumps, bicep curls with basically anything you can find and situps.”
Although the team is still able to complete workouts, Pies mentioned a challenging aspect of the at-home workouts that he and many other student athletes face. “The hardest part for me is finding enough space to do the workouts! I live in a small house with my parents and it can get pretty cramped at times as there isn’t much space anyways, let alone trying to do circuit workouts in the living room.”
Before social distancing measures were put in place, all WU sports teams had set times where they work out as a team. Examples included weight classes in the early morning or afternoon, field work, group runs and sessions in the pool. With student-athletes now having to work out alone, they now have to work harder at keeping themselves and their teammates accountable.
Pies said, “We stay in touch as a team a minimum of two times a week to talk football, and also to check in on one another.”