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The New Training Facilities: Backyard Gym, Hallway Track

Perhaps it’s a new adage: If you build a backyard gym, the quarantined athletes will come.

As the severity of the coronavirus pandemic became clear and it shut down sports around the world, professional athletes were quick to adapt. Their gyms and training facilities were set to close and suddenly the athletes, accustomed to a stringent schedule of training in world-class facilities, were stuck working at home like the rest of us.

The athletes with existing home gyms or training facilities in their backyards had it better than others. Some found themselves confined to their homes without needed equipment, many in nations where movement was limited to a certain radius around each person’s household.

So how does a swimmer train without access to a pool or an open body of water? How can soccer or football players practice without their teams? What does training in quarantine look like for a diver, a fencer or a rock climber?

Athletes found creative solutions.

In Britain, the canoeist Mallory Franklin balanced on a yoga ball while paddling in the air, and James Heatly practiced diving maneuvers over a small foam square in his backyard. In Brazil, the Olympic shot putter Darlan Romani lifted weights outside his garage while his daughter spectated. In Russia, the runner Valeria Nazarova lined up hurdles in the hallway of her apartment building. And in Belgium, the triathlete Jelle Geens swam in a small inflatable pool, his body anchored in a way that let him swim in place.

For many of these athletes, the date of their next competition remains uncertain. But when it arrives, they’ll be ready.


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