Despite stay-at-home restrictions closing gyms and canceling sporting events and practices, some Sammamish residents have discovered creative ways to pursue their fitness goals. This new-normal reality of COVID-19 has not daunted them from moving off the couch equipped, at times, with little more than common items found around the house.
David Darroch, 16, is a junior at Eastlake High School and a member of the wrestling team since freshman year. He found his regular gym, the Sammamish YMCA, closed since March. His goal to weigh 200 lbs before school starts this fall was at risk.
“Whenever quarantine started, I was about a one hundred and sixty five pounds,” Darroch said. “And then my weight shot up super high, I was like a hundred and eighty-six pounds, but like, not really lean. And so I started working out so much more – I started doing the routine.”
Darroch found a rigorous workout regimen on social media by Mark Churella, who was a former college wrestler. The workout involved 400 push-ups, 50 pull-ups and 50 chin-ups a day.
“So what I thought was okay, I can’t do that many reps of pull-ups on towels on a door frame…I’ll break my door frame,” he said.
Darroch adapted. He found a spare ladder in his home, opened up the ladder legs, and started pulling himself up with his hands on the rungs. He is doing 100 pull-ups a day, followed by 400 push-ups and 400 squats. For the pull-ups and squats, he repurposed his punching bag, the only real gym equipment he owns, as a weight. Darroch even intensified the routine by adding running and other aerobics.
Darroch said he is already seeing significant gains from his home workouts, although he admitted the local YMCA will always be his preferred gym.
“The biggest struggle is gonna be self-regulation and two things: getting up and doing the work…and moderating your own intensity to make sure you are putting in the maximum effort that you can put in,” he said.
While Darroch’s routine may be too intense for some, others have turned to their favorite sporting activities to work out at home.
The Middletons, a family of four, relocated to Sammamish from Seattle before the quarantine began. Parents Zach and Kim Middleton both work full time. Zach, 39, is a developer with Epic Games and Kim, 40, works in a local hospital. Despite their busy schedules, they managed to include their sons Tyler, 9, and Tristan, 6, in their daily exercise routine.
“We’ll do breakfast and a little bit of schoolwork in the morning, and then we try to get them moving,” Zach Middleton said. “And then maybe we’ll do a little bit of tennis if it’s nice out.”
Tennis has become a family favorite. With many public courts closed, however, they transformed their driveway into a makeshift court.
“Originally, I built a little net out of some spare wood that I had, so it was just like standing up and I laid some wood across it,” he said. “And then that was working pretty well, but then we decided to just order one because we were playing out there so much.”
Given the family members’ varied schedules, Tyler found himself at times without an opponent. He took to hitting the tennis ball against the house and windows. His father, forced to find a creative do-it-yourself solution before his son breaks something, built a homemade backboard that now allows Tyler to practice his shots on-demand.
Jonathan Kroll, owner of 5 Strengths Gym, provides personal training to clients in his home gym. Even with the many professional routines built into his memory from years in the fitness industry, Kroll, 47, said the stay-at-home order has brought its own challenges, especially with keeping his kids, 11-year-old Kian and 6-year-old Jadon, active.
“When we first had the shutdown announced and the kids were home, especially before they started sending out schoolwork, I broke the day into portions of exercising and schoolwork,” Jonathan said.
His kids typically wake up and have a full breakfast at 6:30 a.m. Then he starts them out with forty-five minutes of schoolwork. When they finish their schoolwork, the workout starts. He warms them up with a mile run, five days a week. And then, he puts them to the test.
“Come back, do weight lifting, which would either be clean and press with some dumbbells, weighted walks with some kettlebells, deadlifts with some kettlebells,” Kroll said. “And they’d do a forty-forty, which would consist of forty push-ups, forty jump squats, forty star jumps, and forty sit-ups, or crunches, followed by a practice of pull-ups. And then that would be their exercise essentially for the day.”
Keeping himself active and strong every day is important for Kroll. He found flexibility to be key, especially when schoolwork resumed for his kids and he started training with new clients again. He prefers to balance high-intensity aerobics with targeted weightlifting and strength training.
“I’ll mix in some longer segments of cardiovascular, like maybe a run or a bike ride or something like that, maybe once a week,” Kroll said. “And the majority of the work I’m doing is strength and high-intensity aerobic, so it’s good for stimulating the immune system, strengthening the body.”
Overall, Kroll admits this situation is not ideal. The lockdown has forced him to significant adjust his routines. But he believes this is a challenge for the entire community to adapt to, so that people can stay strong and healthy.
The individuals and families who spoke with Sammamish Independent about their fitness goals adapted quickly and remained positive, while acknowledging the challenges of living under lockdown conditions. Their commitment to staying, or in some cases, becoming stronger and healthier will hopefully inspire others to discover creative fitness solutions.