Whether it was working out at Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center, the Morale, Welfare, Recreation Fitness Center or Gold’s Gym in Newburgh, I would always find my solace in environments that offered the ability to keep in shape.
I would use my free time at lunch to go to Arvin, or sometimes after work to the MWR Fitness Center and weekends at Gold’s Gym to maximize my ability to keep strong physically and mentally fresh as I get closer and closer to 50 years of age—and somehow avoid Father Time from whacking me over the head with a two-by-four.
As COVID-19 continues to ravage through the United States and the world, all the inner sanctums to relieve stress and anxiety while building my “temple” have closed, which now leads to thinking outside the box to remain on top of my fitness and keeping sane while staying relatively quarantined day-to-day.
My workouts include, in various forms, the beach body series, T-25 and Insanity Max:30, running outside in my neighborhood, doing abdominal work and doing light weights even though I would like to do heavier weights, which are currently not available to me without a gym. Generally, 80 percent of this was always done at a gym, nevertheless this is now not the case.
Then again that is just my story of how I am dealing with the new normal, however, the young men and women at U.S. Military Academy who are in the prime physical condition of their lives are trying to stay ahead of the curve on their fitness with the same drawbacks that I and everyone else are feeling right now without access to local gym facilities.
Yet, ingenuity and smarts are a part of their DNA, not just academically, and figuring out how they can achieve the goals of staying in top shape is a prime example of their ability and resilience to overcome the obstacle at hand.
Three cadets shared their experiences of what their new normal looks like while doing workouts at home as quarantine and social distancing are buzz words being used every day now. Class of 2021 Cadets Lane Peters and Christopher Bang and Class of 2020 Cadet Jessica Jin all share the same drive and focus to achieve their goals.
Each may fall in a different spectrum physically as Peters, from Uhrichsville, Ohio, is a corps squad wrestler; Bang, from Candler, North Carolina, is a Kinesiology major; and Jin, from Solon, Ohio, is the brigade physical development officer and on the CrossFit Black and Gold team, but no matter one’s body type, physical prowess or background, the thought remains the same for everyone—am I doing my best to achieve my physical goals? Here are their stories in their own words …
PV: Describe what your day-to-day routine looks like right now?
LP: “With classes being delayed here on the east coast, I take advantage of the morning hours by doing my daily readings … mainly faith based. After that, I transition to my daily cardio workout that typically consists of either running or biking. The middle of the day is spent in class or AI sessions with my teachers. Before putting the books away for the day, I do a few minutes of mindset training. These training sessions consist of workshops with Dr. (Nate) Zinsser at the Center for Enhanced Performance, some recreational reading or watching wrestling film.
“I am fortunate to have a small weight room in my basement, so after class, my sister, Sage, who is a plebe on the softball team at West Point, and I take advantage of that for some friendly competition with the weights available while adding in other body-weight movements. Then we wrap up the day with some homework and family time.”
CB: “After eating my breakfast, I will attend my online classes from 9:30 a.m.-1:40 p.m. After attending my classes, my mother cooks up a mean Korean dish for lunch. I give myself an hour to digest my food before doing my daily workout.
“After my workout, I clean up and then get myself back to the academic grind and knock out as much homework as I can before dinner.
“After spending some quality family time through dinner, I continue to get after my academics until the job is done. This cycle is repeated for the entire week.”
JJ: “If it is nice outside, I’ll go for a walk or I’ll do a session of ROMWOD (Range of Motion) before my first class. After class, I’ll do a home workout/run. For dinner, I’ll cook new recipes I have been saving to try out on my family. Then, I’ll spend time reading new books or video chatting with a friend to stay socially connected.
PV: What do you do to keep in shape daily?
LP: “On top of my daily cardio and resistance training, my family and I have taken advantage of the local landscape (in Uhrichsville).
“We’ve gone on multiple hikes and bike rides as a family as well as activities like cutting firewood by hand or other active chores that double as both a workout and quality time. Our (Army West Point wrestling) strength coach also provides workouts that require little to no equipment.”
CB: “In order to keep myself in shape daily, I make sure to work out six times a week. Having a fitness page (@bangworkout) on Instagram keeps me accountable on making sure that I work out.
“Not only am I working out for myself, but I am also trying to help others workout through my consistency in uploading work out videos.”
JJ: “I have been rotating through a variety of home workouts from a few programs I have found through DPE, my teammates on the CrossFit Black and Gold team, or from athletes who post workouts on their social media accounts. I also make sure I get a certain number of steps in every day.”
PV: How does your workout routine differ from when you had a gym available to you?
LP: “I would say the biggest difference is the quality of equipment I have available. However, that is not to say that athletes can’t continue to improve without quality equipment. I think of (situations) with Olympic athletes such as Usain Bolt who trains on a small dirt track.
“For myself, I’ve had to incorporate a lot of body-weight movements to my routine more than normal. Burpees, pull-ups, push-ups, air squats to name a few are always good burners.”
CB: “My workouts differ significantly now since I don’t have access to all the quality gym equipment that I had back at Arvin. My workouts consist mainly of calisthenic/body-weight movements with occasional use of weights that I managed to dig out from my basement.”
JJ: “My workouts were primarily weight training, circuits and swimming, but without equipment at my house or a pool, I have transferred over to body-weight workouts with odd objects, like weighted bookbags, and have added in more running.”
PV: Any unique activity you have picked up in the last three weeks to help with your workouts?
LP: “One thing I have been doing recently, which I typically otherwise would not do, is taking advantage of friendly challenges against either my (wrestling) teammates or my sister.
“Most of these are body weight, equipment free workouts. For example, the other day, my sister and I did a first to 100 burpees challenge. My teammates have also done a great job of sharing their at home workouts with the team, so I am never lacking creative ideas.”
CB: “I have picked up calisthenics to help with my workouts. Through calisthenics, I have been able to control my body to another level that I didn’t even know was possible. It is crazy what the human body can accomplish.”
JJ: “Although jumping rope was also part of my old training, I have been using it to get in cardio if I need to take off running for the day for rest or the weather isn’t cooperative.”
PV: Have you participated in any challenges on social media among cadets or your cadet teammates or used programs provided by the Department of Physical Education?
LP: “My teammates send workouts they are doing on a daily basis in our team group chat. It makes for some good competition that keeps all of us honest in our physical development. Our coaching staff does a great job in feeding us new ideas as well.”
CB: “My Kinesiology Class of 2021 has participated in a push-up challenge against the Kinesiology Class of 2020. Our class has beaten the firsties in this challenge and we can’t wait for more physical challenges to be thrown our way.”
JJ: “The Master of the Sword (Col. Nicholas Gist) challenged the Kinesiology Class of 2020 to the “See 10, Do 10” push-up challenge on Instagram, and I am happy to say we responded to his challenge with clapping push-ups.”
PV: As the brigade physical development officer, what does your job encompass throughout the year? How has that job changed away from West Point and how have you adapted?
JJ: “The Brigade Physical Development Officer assists the Department of Physical Education in running the physical tests for the Corps of Cadets, like the Army Physical Fitness Test, Indoor Obstacle Course Test and Occupational Physical Assessment Test.
“This year, members of the brigade staff and I were able to help with the transition over to the new physical fitness test—the Army Combat Fitness Test. We have also managed to obtain two conex gyms near the barracks to allow cadets to train outside. I always try to look for ways to get cadets motivated and excited about taking their health fitness to the next level, whether it is through brigade-wide fitness competitions, or arranging Q&A’s with DPE instructors.
“It would be very difficult to assess physical fitness away from West Point, so many aspects of my job are not applicable anymore. But one thing I can continue to do is provide cadets resources on how to maintain their fitness levels at home with minimal to no equipment.
“By providing that information to my company Physical Development Officers, I can attempt to reach out to all companies with resources and events that we still plan on hosting. I have also seen many company PDOs take their own initiative by gathering their own bank of workouts or host company-internal competitions.”
PV: How tough is it to stay in wrestling shape now? And, how hard was it for you and your teammates to see your season abruptly end the way it did?
LP: “Training has certainly required some creativity as of late. One of the first things I did when I got home was sat down and listed the ways I can continue to improve—not just physically, but overall—in this difficult season. I was pleasantly surprised at how extensive of a list I have come up with.
“One of the beauties of wrestling is that it is so natural that you don’t need extensive equipment to do 20-30 minutes of some stance and motion drills or to grab a relative and wrestle around in the grass. There is an obvious disadvantage in not having 40 other Division I wrestlers in the same room with me every day, but neither does anyone else in the country right now.
“The news of our NCAA tournament being canceled was devastating particularly to our seniors. We have four seniors (Trey Chalifoux, Cael McCormick, Ben Harvey and Noah Stewart) who had qualified for the tournament and were ready to make some noise.
“I cannot praise our leadership—particularly the coaching staff—enough for how they handled that day. While it was emotional, they encouraged us to be there for one another.
“The men in our program have received worse news under worse circumstances outside the sport of wrestling (with the death of teammate Christopher Morgan before the season). Coach (Kevin) Ward reminded us that together we overcame such trials and tribulations, and now we would do the same with this one.”