ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim is the Executive Director at The Good Athlete Project. GAP is an international sports consulting firm dedicated to character education. Jim has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard.
// Spring Season Isn’t Over
Athletes, keep training! Spring season isn’t over.
The Ivy League basketball tournament was the first to fall. Shortly after, the NCAA announced that March Madness and all other competitions were cancelled in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Seasons – careers – for thousands of athletes across the country came to a screeching halt.
Luke Bartzis, Vice-Captain of the Arizona Rugby team identifies that he “never even got to say goodbye to [his] teammates.” It is not only a career cut short, but the end of deep and meaningful relationships, built in competition and fueled by shared purpose.
It’s a hard pill to swallow. While the termination of these seasons should slow the spread of coronavirus, there are some additional concerns that must be addressed. Athletes everywhere now face three common opponents: Hopelessness, Isolation, and Sedentary Behavior.
Though the situation seems bleak, coaches and athletes should not lose hope. The Good Athlete Project has some good news: spring season isn’t over!
The Good Athlete Project, a nonprofit organization focused on maximizing the potential of athletics as education, is hosting Online Powerlifting Nationals, an event for all athletes (powerlifters, baseball players, rugby players and beyond) to compete with their team one last time.
Supported by Kabuki Strength and TrainHeroic, this event intends to put a light at the end of the tunnel. Whether you are competing as an individual, or as part of a team, it is essential to maintain HOPE.
Without hope, we put our athletes (and ourselves) at risk. Recent studies have shown that quarantines (like those imposed for previous diseases like SARS, Ebola, and H1N1) are necessary, but can have serious mental health implications. One major study from Brooks, et al. (2020) revealed that anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and depression were some of the primary negative outcomes.
Step one: register today and give yourself something to train for. There are award plaques for teams and individuals, and Kabuki Strength has donated more than $1,000 in prizes for top finishers. But wherever you finish, it will be fun.
The best part about being on a team is the team itself. It’s the shared purpose, the community, the connection. With seasons ending so abruptly, isolation could have unintended consequences.
Kassandra Alcaraz, PhD, MPH, a public health researcher with the American Cancer Society, says that the “risk of social isolation is very similar in magnitude to that of obesity, smoking, lack of access to care, and physical inactivity.” In other words, social isolation is a problem.
Physical isolation does not have to signal the end of community. Online Powerlifting Nationals provides the perfect opportunity to stay in touch with teammates and encourage social connection. People everywhere are getting creative in their training and we have already seen Zoom meetings to talk nutrition and logistics.
With a shared purpose, teams have reasons to reach out to one another, talk training, and hold each other accountable. We are stronger together. Stay connected.
Sedentary behavior and poor mental health are directly aligned. When sedentary behavior is experimentally induced in an otherwise active population, researchers at the University of Mississippi identified an increase in anxiety.
Additional studies have found a similar alignment with sedentary behavior and depression. In Kelly McGonagal’s book “The Joy of Movement” she cites one of those studies to highlight that “within one week of becoming more sedentary [study participants] report a 31 percent decline in life satisfaction,” (p. 14).
If we don’t identify a reason to train, the danger of sedentary behavior will not take long to take hold.
Should this become the new normal, Americans will find themselves at a greater risk of obesity, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Coaches are uniquely positioned to understand that we are dealing with a public health dilemma that goes beyond the virus.
Though many would hope to stay active during this time, it can be difficult to find the motivation in days which are newly free of routine. We need to align our training goals and get ready to compete!
Spring season isn’t over
It may not look like we thought it would, but there is still an opportunity to compete. While a virtual competition is not the same as being in-person, powerlifting and strength competitions might be the only athletic outlet we have! Online Powerlifting Nationals is an event that provides motivation, a timeline, and group accountability in a moment when we need it most.
Will lifters be setting world records? Probably not. Will training conditions be perfect? Unlikely. But what, in the midst of a global pandemic, is perfect?
If we take a moment to reflect, have any of us ever had the “perfect” training conditions?
What we have in front of us is an opportunity to develop a thoughtful process, adhere to it with discipline and intensity, then cap it off with a max effort… while the circumstances might not fit our old definition of perfect, that just might be the perfect approach. And if we can transfer that to other areas of our lives, then we are on to something special.
Let’s show the world that the community of strength is strong. Light a light at the end of the tunnel and register today!
(All proceeds fuel the nonprofit work of the Good Athlete Project, including the support of nurses and first responders.)
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Q: How do I compete?
A: Competing in the National competition only takes 5 easy steps!
- Register on the EventBrite link.
- Recruit your teammates and peers to compete!
- You will get a code to join a TrainHeroic team – join that team.
- When it is safe to do so, record your bodyweight, squat max, bench max, and deadlift max.
- Submit your numbers and video evidence between May 16 and June 16 (later if quarantine is extended).
Upon submission, a team of professional judges will review all entries and a leaderboard will begin to populate – once those results are finalized, we will LiveStream the final results! Award plaques will be shipped to 1st place individuals and teams, top lifters will be eligible for prizes, and certificates will be given to Top 10 finishers.
Q: What if I don’t have access to gym equipment?
A: Improvise with your training, and wait to test. We want everyone to be safe and healthy. We will allow an extended submission period if the quarantine lasts longer than currently expected. And don’t worry – we’re all in the same boat – no one will be at their absolute best, but we’ll do the best with what we have! Good Athletes are resilient and adaptable. You’ll find a way.
Q: Where do I upload the video?
A: After registering for the meet, you will be given a code to submit your video on TrainHeroic. Be sure the videos are 60 seconds or less and abide by the guidelines for each lift.
Any other questions? Feel free to reach out to me directly: Jim@goodathleteproject.com