Students, athletes struggle with restricted fitness options

By: Carter Reznik

Colleen Barnett curls a dumbbell during her at home workout./ CARTER REZNIK

Young athletes continue to struggle to maintain an active routine throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have limited access to gyms, practices with teammates, and playing organized sports.

 “It’s sad knowing I can’t continue with my routine,” said Derek Swidinsky, a hockey player and Red River College plumbing student. “It was something I looked forward to doing every day.”

Routines being interrupted by the pandemic isn’t unusual; many Manitobans were laid off from their jobs, isolated in their homes for months, and started earning degrees from their bedroom. 

Daily routines took some reshaping and mental health is at risk when a routine is removed. Athletes are no exception when their outlet for joy, anger, and physical exercise has been shelved.

“I have just felt off,” said Madison Rey, a rugby player and student at the University of Winnipeg. “It has been quite frustrating. It has affected my sleep and even how I eat.”

Whether it’s locker room banter or talks between teammates on the field, the bonding element that sports provide is what some miss the most.

“The social aspect was a big thing for me, and as a social person, not having that has been hard,” said Rey.

When athletes are injured, they have a timetable for their return to action. With a hard recovery ahead, having an end date in mind can keep them hopeful toward returning to their athletic identity. 

Today, the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel still seems distant to some athletes.

“I do understand the circumstances, however, it doesn’t make it any less hard,” said Rey.

Gym-goers have restricted options, but time away from their routines has forced them to explore new options. 

“I’ve gotten outside more. I’m trying to at least get some runs in for some activity, and I’ve found a love of running outside,” said Rey.

Athletes will now slowly begin to return to their routines after the Manitoba government loosened COVID-19 restrictions, opening gyms, fitness centres, and sporting facilities at a 25 per cent capacity.

But with less than 20 per cent of adult Manitobans vaccinated, athletes may have to keep their doorway pull-up bars up and their skates in the bag for now.