Creativity part of exercise routine now

Running races are being postponed due to the threat of the coronavirus.

DOVER — Demetrius Stevenson has arms the size of tree trunks.

Keeping them that big takes some work for the former Wesley College football standout.

So having the Dover YMCA and its weight room temporarily closed has left Stevenson using some creativity to stay in shape.

“I just utilize my bag of dog food and different heavy things around the house — like a gallon of milk or something like that,” the City of Dover police officer said with a laugh.

“During these times, it’s easy to eat just because you’re bored. … A couple times, I wasn’t even hungry, I was just snacking because there’s nothing to do. But you’ve got to maintain.”

With the coronavirus shutting down so many things right now, there’s a lot of people out there trying to find new ways to maintain some form of exercise routine.

The biggest issues are facilities being closed or avoiding activities that draw groups of people.

So runners are still free to go outside and run — while keeping social distancing in mind, of course. But there’s no competition in solo running and all the local 5K races have been postponed.

To still give runners their competitive fix, race organizers are holding virtual races. Runners do their run, take a photo of their time on their watch and then send it in to be recorded.

Tim Bamforth, of Sussex County’s Seashore Striders, has already held a virtual race in place of a scheduled 5K. He and his wife then delivered awards to the mailboxes at the homes of the winners.

“I did a virtual awards ceremony where I taped myself and had pictures of them,” said Bamforth. “They’re so used to running in groups and running in teams and being competitive.”

Bamforth figures he’s already had to call off seven or eight races. Runners can have their entrance fee counted toward their registration for the running of the event next year.

It’s the same story in Kent County where TriSport event’s Ray Parker has postponed a number of races. Some events have been moved to open dates later in the year.

Parker is planning to have some virtual races, too.

“I’m getting a lot of emails from people that are really antsy to get out and run,” he said. “Some of them are still getting out and training but we perform the stage for them to perform on. Training and racing are two different things sometimes. They tend to get more out of themselves in a race.

“They can still get out and run but there’s nothing like running in a pack or racing against your friends.”

While getting outside and exercising is generally good, even under the current pandemic restrictions, there are exceptions. In some parts of Delaware, and other states, officials are taking down outdoor basketball baskets because players were ignoring social-distancing guidelines.

Despite being closed, the Dover YMCA is trying to help people keep in shape by offering online fitness classes on its Facebook page.

There are schedules of the classes being offered, which are usually available live or on playback. The sessions are run by instructors from YMCA branches around the state.

Other videos are available on the YMCA Facebook page, such as one where children can learn to juggle. Links are also available at the YMCA’s website and are free to use.

“We’ve definitely had a big increase in the number of people that are following that (Facebook) page now,” said Julie Burns, Director of Marketing and Communications for YMCA of Delaware. “There’s been lots of great comments from people on there. 

“I think they’re really excited to be seeing the faces of their instructors that they’re used to, too.”

With the situation still so new, Burns said the YMCA is trying to think of other ways to engage people during the shutdown. They’re working on streaming classes through Zoom, where participants will be able to see the other people in the class.

“We’re learning,” said Burns. “We’re definitely adapting to what’s going on and trying to get our members exactly what they’re looking for to be active and healthy in their home.”

Perhaps the sport that’s been effected the least by the pandemic is golf. Most of the golf courses in the state seem to have stayed open.

With its open spaces and without the need for players to be in close contact, social distancing seems simple enough.

Longtime local pro Ricky McCall said there seems to be plenty of people out on the courses for this time of year.

“It’s packed out there,” he said. “I can’t believe how crowded it is.”

McCall, who is now the women’s golf coach at Delaware State University, said the clubs seem to be taking steps to keep players from handling the same things.

He said some of the depth is being taken out of holes so players don’t have to remove the flag to retrieve their ball. Rakes are also being removed from sand traps and carts either aren’t permitted or limited to one rider.

“I heard one cart attendant talking to another one after somebody sat down in a cart,” said McCall. “He said, ‘Make sure that cart gets brought down and re-sanitized. We’ve got to make sure that nobody sits in these carts until the person that’s going to use it is using it.’

“They went above and beyond to make sure that everyone is safe on their end. If they didn’t feel like they could keep people safe, then they probably wouldn’t open the golf course.”

The simplest forms of exercise — walking, jogging, bike riding — are almost always available. As the weather warms up, it seems inevitable that more people will want to go outside.

“Just out walking, we’re still seeing people on the trails,” said Bamforth. “They’re just not together. They’re keeping that social distance.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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