Loyola Athletes Get Creative in At-Home Workouts

Zack Miller | The PhoenixWhile being stuck at home, many Loyola athletes have resorted to using household items as weights to keep in shape.

While being stuck at home and without access to a gym, Loyola athletes are still doing a lot of the same exercises, but with a twist. Instead of doing squats with a dumbell, they are resorting to squatting with a backpack filled with heavy objects found around the house.

Athletes and coaches have taken to remote training with Loyola’s campus being shut down. This came after Loyola announced spring sports would be canceled and classes would move online due to concerns over COVID-19 — the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus.

One of those athletes who found unconventional methods to stay in shape is women’s basketball junior guard Ellie Rice. The biology major said she’s used a milk jug filled with water, laundry detergent bottles and backpacks filled with textbooks in place of typical gym weights.

“It’s kind of fun, getting creative with things around the house,” Rice, 20, said. “Sometimes it’s silly to think that I would be using laundry detergent for my workout.”

Rice said there have been pros and cons to being stuck at home. She said she’s glad to get to spend a lot more time with family than she typically does, but sometimes her two dogs want to play fetch while she’s training or taking classes.

Finding useful equipment and a good space to exercise can be a difficult adjustment for athletes. Dave Vitel, Loyola’s associate athletic director of sports performance, said the athletic staff has sent detailed workout programs and several examples of household items to use in place of gym weights. These exampls range from milk jugs and big cans of beans to even using a pet or sibling as a bench press type of weight.

The men’s basketball and men’s volleyball teams have sent their players some basic training equipment, including exercise bands, according to Vitel. Rice said the women’s basketball team hasn’t sent players any equipment, but the team has discussed the possibility. Regardless of the equipment being used, Vitel said a lot of the training right now are “general prep” workouts that include basic strength exercises and running.

“There’s going to be a lot of similarities between what we do with these athletes,” Vitel said. “But we don’t know how long this is going to last, and as this goes on, we’re going to have to become more specific in what we do.”

He added as the fall seasons approach, the staff will want to prepare men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball with more sport-specific training like they normally do. Despite the difficulty of not being on campus, women’s soccer head coach Barry Bimbi said he’s working to stay connected with his team through various forms, such as weekly Zoom meetings, a group text on GroupMe and Microsoft Teams.

“As a coach, it’s been very tough because the spring season we’re around our girls so much, so from the development standpoint, the personal relations standpoint that’s been really tough,” Bimbi said. 

Bimbi said each day, a coach or staff member will meet with players about a different topic, ranging from Loyola’s gameplan to the athletes’ academics.

His team has also been posting “sweaty selfies” on Twitter following workouts. The athletes take pictures after exercising to show fans that the team is still putting in work despite not being able to practice together. 

While she doesn’t have a hoop to shoot on, Rice is still getting her basketball fix, whether it’s dribbling a ball in the driveway or watching past NBA and WNBA games.

“Just to stay with the X’s and O’s of basketball and keep learning the game as much as you can even when you can’t play, you can always watch and have discussions about it,” Rice said.

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