Yellow and black tape flaps around the metal bars of a play structure, blocking kids from climbing on it. Neon and ‘Yes, we’re open!’ signs are turned off and flipped around, the doors locked. Governor Kate Brown announced a stay at home order on March 23, soon followed by another for non-essential businesses to be closed to the public before Oregon is overwhelmed with too many COVID-19 cases. Gyms and fitness studios are included in the list of non-essential businesses, cutting off a source of exercise for those who don’t have resources to continue staying fit at home.
“I lost a lot of strength because, first of all, I got sick and there was a four week period where I didn’t lift at all,” junior Aiden Paul said. He said that since the local gym and the school’s weight center closed, his fitness has suffered. If it wasn’t for his coach in Portland, Paul said, who gave him permission to use a fitness center, then he wouldn’t have been able to work on his throwing skills for the track and field season, or gain his strength back.
Other students, like freshman Sasha Hoehne, rely only on school sports as their main source of activity. This year was her first time trying out for a field sport, lacrosse, but due to the school cancellation, all spring sport practices were suspended until further notice.
“I [had] to go to two hour practices every day and that’s my responsibility to show up for the team, but when I’m by myself… it’s hard when you’re feeling extra lazy,” Hoehne said. The Oregon School Activities Association directed coaches and students not to use school facilities or join with teammates to work out together. On April 8, the OSAA officially cancelled all spring sports and state championships for this season, per Governor Brown’s announcement that physical classroom learning would be online schooling for the rest of the year.
Like many other athletes, Hoehne was upset about the cancellations. The only way she can practice lacrosse at home is wall ball, which works on coordination by throwing the ball against a wall and catching it with the lacrosse stick in repetition. She said it is not really fun without a friend.
“It’s a little difficult to get out… since the facilities that I normally use are closed, and I just want to play it safe and not break any rules,” junior Emily Stefan said. She does have a gym at home, which she said she uses most of the time if the track’s gates are closed. She runs the 100 and 200 meter dash in track and exercises whenever free in order to keep improving. Stefan said she takes her sport very seriously.
“Everyone’s staying at home, and I’m not seeing people, so what’s the point?” Hoehne said when she feels like exercise is unnecessary. “But it’s more for my well-being than anything else. [Social appearance] shouldn’t be your main reason [to exercise].”
Another challenge athletes are facing is maintaining proper nutrition. It’s hard to eat healthy if good foods aren’t available in the house at the moment, and hunger can get the best of people.
“It makes it hard to keep track of my food because I have access to food all day,” Paul said. “When I’m in school, you can’t eat whenever you want.” In the past weeks, Paul started keeping a schedule, working to keep his athletic ability and stay his best. Just in case things open up again in the summer, he said, he wants to be where he was before all the closures.
“If people are struggling to find motivation, just find something you enjoy doing,” Hoehne said. Hoehne bikes and walks her dog, hikes the trails and longboards around her neighborhood, keeping safe distances. “There are different types of exercises… just be active with someone you like.” Just remember to stay six feet apart, of course.