COVID-19 and the Gym Rats

TAGS: COVID-19, home gym, erik eggers

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This is how you create an awesome home gym. You start with a two-car garage. You line the floor with thick horse stall mats to protect the cement and the equipment, including the weights. I stacked the mats a foot high when I first pulled them off the delivery truck and promptly tripped over them, almost snapping my ankle in the process – Kapow!!! Then you fill the garage with high-quality equipment, including the best power rack(s) you can find, as well as the highest quality bars. Boom!!! – you have assembled a fantastic home gym.

I talk about my home gym frequently, including the equipment. I am not sure if that is humble bragging or straight bragging – or maybe it is only my sense of personal pride. Not that most people care, and fortunately, I am well-beyond caring what most people think. We all make choices in life, and one of those choices is spending allocation. While many people lean toward luxury cars or brand name clothes, I have historically favored a well-equipped gym.

I am digressing.

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COVID-19

You may be sick of hearing about COVID-19. I know I am, but the reality is that this situation has forced us to consider what is truly important and to better understand the fragility of – well, everything. I can only watch so much of the news – it is depressing. Observing cars in food lines that seemingly span miles forces you to contemplate an unpleasant reality. Conversely, watching those healthcare workers brave the front lines is genuinely inspirational.


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We have been forced to make difficult choices to protect ourselves, and most importantly, our loved ones, particularly those with higher risk factors. We have been forced, as responsible citizens, to abide by specific social distancing rules. As a parent, I must ensure I am enforcing certain socially responsible behaviors with my children, including social distancing. However, from time to time, we may need to take calculated risks to preserve some quality of life, maintain sanity, and to avoid an incident akin to that depicted in Stephen King’s The Shining.

The Lacrosse Crew

The Lacrosse question surfaced first. My daughter had asked if she could have several players over the house to work on drills and shooting. When we considered the situation, several factors lead to a reasonable "yes." The players would be outside, which we viewed as a positive, considering the reduction of risk factors. Given, they would be shooting and working on drills, for the most part, it would be easy for them to observe a safe social distance. We were also able to efficiently enforce the handwashing elements of lower risk behavior.

The Home Gym Inquiry

The “gym question” surfaced later and was first posed to me. Years ago, I trained in small groups. I needed good spotters, and the synergy of group lifting was essential to me at that time in my life (e.g., I was still competing in powerlifting and concerned with breaking personal records). During the last several years, I have mostly trained alone in my garage gym – mainly because my training schedule has become so erratic and inconsistent.

My phone rang. “Hey man, how are you?” The voice on the other end of the line asked.

“Not bad,” I said. “What’s going on?”

“Well, Lifetime Fitness is closed for now. They are freezing memberships – I am getting bloated as hell. I was wondering if you wanted some company in the garage gym and (long pause) maybe I could come and train with you a couple times?”

“Sure,” I said. “You can come and use the gym whenever you want. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Calculated risks.

The Gym Rats

It turned out that my adult friend wasn’t the only one jonesing for a gym. As my middle son soon realized, our home gym is a gift from the gods, especially in times like these, where activities to add substance to and break up a day are at a premium.

At first, his former training buddy resurfaced. Amid the pandemic, they found themselves training daily and making significant gains. They were pushing each other more consistently than ever.

Shortly after that, I received a text from the hockey player across the street.

Hey, Mr. Eggers. Harrison (my son) told me you are training right now. Could I walk over and do some lower body?

Sure, I responded.

The day after that text, my son’s training crew grew by another member – they added the hockey player.

Lastly, the saxophone player from down the street was getting bored too. He had trained with my son on occasion. It is incredible, how straight boredom coupled with Cabin Fever can fan the fires of training desire.

We are taking a risk, although it is calculated – we mitigate it as much as we can. All the guys wash their hands before entering the garage – all the training is in the garage; they never come into the house. When they are done, we typically wipe-down everything with Clorox wipes.

The garage door is always opened – we envision the air circulation carrying any potential virus outward (never inward). Kids are jumping rope in the driveway, sled dragging, and or pushing the Prowler®, so portion of the training is outside.

Making Gains

The newly assembled crew has been remarkably consistent over the last several weeks, and the work is showing. My son is gaining weight, and his numbers are once again moving in the bench, squat, and deadlift. He's even asking the old man for some tips from time to time, and sometimes he listens to what I have to say.

Maybe there is hope for a brighter future after all.

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