Among the many reasons COVID-19 forced postponement of the Olympics and Paralympics, this was a biggie: Athletes couldn’t stay in peak condition during the pandemic. Stay-at-home orders kept them away from their training facilities, so they couldn’t have performed at their best even if the Games were held on schedule.
The same constraints are affecting those of us who aren’t elite competitors. Without access to the gym, pool, track or weight room, it’s difficult to maintain optimum levels of physical and mental health—and the longer our forced inactivity lasts, the greater the long-term health impacts. We’re in for several more weeks (at least) of social distancing, so it’s going to be a while before we can get back to our typical exercise habits.
How to make do in the interim? We scoured YouTube and other corners of cyberspace in search of DIY workouts, and we came back with a pretty good haul. These suggestions are by amputees, for amputees, and you can do them in your house or apartment with no specialized equipment. We begin with:
A Paralympian who’s on the cover of our current issue, Henderson (RBKA) recently offered some home-fitness suggestions even though she’s not a big devotee of the genre. “My house isn’t set up for [indoor workouts] at all,” she explains. So in lieu of high-intensity training, Henderson demo’d some spine and shoulder flexes on her Instagram page. “If you don’t have a great workout situation at home,” she wrote in the caption, “know that you can at the very least do some easy neck stretches that I promise will make you feel a little better! You can even do them in pajamas while you binge all of ‘Tiger King’.” Start off with this video if you’ve spent the last two weeks hunched over your phone (as we have) scrolling through quarantine memes.
Yoga for Amputees
Hosted by the gentle and capable Marsha Danzig (LBKA), this YouTube series helps you build flexibility, balance, core strength and interior calm. She means “interior” to refer to one’s mind, not one’s domicile, but given our present state of confinement you may interpret the adjective however you like. Marsha does yoga on carpets, couches, chairs and her bed—a pose for every room in the house, with one or two left over for the closets. We recommend the segments on core building, anxiety reduction, and hands-free yoga for arm amputees. Last week Marsha hosted a well-attended live session on her Facebook page, so watch for another of those.
Disabled Sports USA’s #AdaptatHome Series
You could keep yourself occupied all day, every day with #AdaptatHome. This one-stop shop aggregates activities from many organizations, offering all kinds of physical fitness sessions (cycling, stretching, intervals, cardio, yoga) for amputees and other adaptive folks. But the options go way beyond that. You’ll find a broad palette of mental recreations and exercises too, from arts and crafts to dance, film, cooking, puzzles, and adaptive equestrian. There’s a mix of live, real-time programming and prerecorded sessions that are available on demand. Some events require advance registration, so plan ahead. A few upcoming highlights: No Limits Boxing on April 11; Cycling Cross Florida, a virtual 167-mile challenge ride on April 18-19; and Sheila Peterson’s weekly meditation sessions.
Ottobock’s Live Fitness Workouts
Launched on March 26, this series of daily live-streamed workouts was conceived and designed in response to the pandemic. It’s specifically meant for amputees who need a fitness fix while they’re locked down at home. Each session features a Paralympic athlete such as German sprinters Heinrich Popow and Johannes Floors. Tune in live every day at 11 Eastern / 8 Pacific, and/or access the recordings on demand at YouTube.
Amputee Workouts with Kay Torbiak
A BBKA from northwestern Ontario, Kay started hosting amputee workouts on Facebook Live to keep herself accountable. “While in [rehab] it was easy for me to push myself to the limit, because I was on a schedule of workouts everyday,” she says. “After being released I had big plans to continue my physio at home . . . easier said than done. I needed something on a schedule.” If you’re looking for something laidback, friendly and DIY, Kay fits the bill. She records every session; check out the archive here.
Ok, we lied. KymNonStop (real name: Kym Perfetto) is not an amputee, like most of the others on this list. She’s an able-bodied hardcore cyclist and reality TV celeb. But Kym’s had enough injuries and close calls to understand that bodies and abilities change, and that exercises must be tailored to fit. These are intense, difficult workouts designed specifically for adaptive athletes. She conducts them seated in her living room or spare bedroom. If you’re looking to go long (20 minutes or more), go hard and get sweaty, KymNonStop has you covered.
Is there any subject this prolific RBKA creator hasn’t covered? Jo Beckwith has useful advice and thoughtful takes on everything from phantom pain to rock climbing to home-schooling to sky-high health care bills. Her fitness-themed videos include a trip to a Ninja gym, but for the COVID-confinement era we direct you to two segments in particular: this 10-minute stretching/movement session (prosthesis off) and a set of yoga poses you can do while wearing your prosthesis.
Personally, we are not wild about the tunes on this Singaporean model’s playlist. We also wish she’d spend less time talking to the camera. But we included her here because we like her straightforward approach to exercise. KazzRozza (LAKA) centers each 2- to 5-minute segment on a specific muscle group: abs, legs, core, shoulders/neck, etc. Mute the soundtrack and fast-forward through the gratuitous gab, and there’s some solid material here.