With the COVID-19 outbreak sending NCAA athletes home for the foreseeable future, the North Carolina football team is turning to makeshift at-home equipment for optional team workouts.
Zoom calls, stuffing backpacks with books and using water jugs as dumbbells may not be the first images that come to mind when thinking of a UNC football player’s weight lifting regimen, but North Carolina strength and conditioning coach Brian Hess has had to be creative in a time where social distancing mandates have forced most gyms to close their doors.
Hess said Monday in a virtual press conference that athletes who choose to take place in the workouts meet multiple times a week on a Zoom call, where he leads them through a strength and conditioning workout that is continuously evolving.
“We have a program for those that have no gym, and with that we just get a backpack and make it as heavy as you can,” Hess said. “We’re going through and treating the 'No weight room' lift, because that’s the majority of our guys right now, and we’re taking that one as the team lift.”
Hess said that the routine takes place all at the same time, where every player that decides to participate in the day’s workout joins a Zoom call and goes through the conditioning as a group.
“You can hear each other and kind of push each other. I think that’s been a really positive thing as far as keeping that motivation where it’s a set workout,” Hess said. “We’re on a progression, and I think all of the guys being on one chat has been extremely motivating.”
While the COVID-19 outbreak has thrown an unprecedented loop in the team’s conditioning plan, this isn’t Hess’ first experience training athletes remotely. With one of his first jobs coming as a member of Harvard’s strength and conditioning staff, many of his athletes took on summer internships in remote areas removed from any collegiate level weight rooms.
“Our take on programs over the summer was always that you had to include a bodyweight section of it, or a makeshift workout,” Hess said. “I have that background, and immediately just went to some of the things that I had done there.”
With the pandemic causing large-scale disruption in the lives of millions, Hess said that the workouts can provide a sense of familiarity for members of the team feeling the most impact from the novel coronavirus’ spread.
“Just to get back into that routine and kind of have that piece of their life back was a huge help,” Hess said.
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