The COVID-19 pandemic presented professional athletes and avid exercisers with an interesting conundrum; how might one go about exercising or training when the gyms are closed and, at least for a short while, we were not allowed to walk or run out on the streets. As the old adage suggests, necessity is the mother of invention and 2020 saw people getting pretty inventive with the way they exercised.

Without a fully-equipped home gym, one may have been forced to look around the house for whatever was heaviest in order to do some sort of weight-lifting; some turned to large sacks of rice, others lifted buckets filled with water.

Some people took things a step further and used whatever space they had available to run excessive distances. Englishman James Campbell ran six-metre lengths in his garden and in just over five hours he’d completed a marathon distance and raised £18 000 for the National Health Service. In France, Elisha Nochomovitz ran along his seven-metre long balcony to make up a marathon distance. Dmitry Yakukhny had been training for nine months when COVID-19 put an end to his 250km desert race in Morocco. Confined to his home for the duration of quarantine, he did the next best thing and ran 100km worth of laps around his bed. It took him 10 hours and 19 minutes, but his wife and children were cheering him on every step of the way.

11-year-old Imogen Papworth-Heidel found her own way to stay active and help out at the same time. This young soccer fanatic set a goal of performing one “keepy-uppy” for every member of the NHS; the goal of this game is to keep the ball from touching the floor by bouncing it off of your knees in an alternating pattern. Over 195 days, Imogen managed to perform 1 123 586 keepy-uppies. On some days she performed up to 7000 of them! An additional 5 976 414 were “donated” by schools, sports clubs, and individuals who sent in videos of themselves playing the game. On the other end of the age spectrum is the man who inspired Imogen to start this challenge. 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore walked 100 laps of his garden in the time leading up to his centennial birthday and raised an incredible £33 million for charity. The World War 2 veteran was knighted later in 2020 as a sign of gratitude from Queen Elizabeth II.

Some people experienced a creative block during the free time afforded to us by lockdowns in 2020, but it seems that for others the lockdown and lack of access to their normal means of exercise was just the boost they needed to get really creative with their ways to stay active.

Image: Cletus Mulaudi

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