Grateful for the grind: Gusties get creative to stay in shape over Thanksgiving break

For some, the coming holiday season is a little intimidating in terms of fitness goals. Impending finals mean that many students have to work especially hard to find time to work out. Food-intensive holidays like Thanksgiving promise a sudden abundance of calories. COVID has not made matters any simpler, as most intend to spend this holiday season in relatively small groups at home and distanced from loved ones. COVID regulations in gyms and other fitness centers have added an extra layer of inconvenience for the time-crunched athlete. On top of all that, Gustavus’ decision to move to an entirely online class format through the end of finals has forced Gusties to get creative about staying in shape over break.
For those staying on campus or in the general St. Peter area, a glimmer of good news lights the end of this semester’s tunnel. Lund Center will remain open between Thanksgiving Break and the end of finals, and Gusties will still be able to sign up to work out in the pool, weight room, and cardio floor.
Despite the myriad of challenges faced by Gusties returning home for the remainder of the semester, Strength and Conditioning coordinator and Gustavus Football Defensive Line Coach Zach Vine discussed how mindset will be the number one tool for Gusties to stay in the game away from campus.
“The first and foremost aspect of our [training] structure is related to our mentality. We need to have a “no excuses” mentality. When we’re dealing with minimal resources, we refer to those as “no excuses” circumstances. Our circumstances are not going to determine our level of effort,” Vine said.
Most Gustie student-athletes follow a rigidly-structured practice and strength training regime while on campus. For many, that doesn’t have to change even if their geography does.
“We want to accomplish a certain level of… sprinting, jumping and cutting. Athletic-based skills. That’s a huge part, and the beautiful thing is that it doesn’t require much in regards to equipment. From a strength standpoint, there are also some general boxes we wanna check. I really believe that our athletes should be training some type of squat or lunge type movement three times a week. We’re not married to one type of exercise like the barbell, though. We need to be creative,” Vine said.
“At the same time, we can be really thankful for the Trainheroic app. That’s a tremendous tool the Gustavus Athletics department uses for athletes to train while away from campus,” Vine said.
TrainHeroic is a mobile app that allows athletes to see training programs provided by their coaches, as well as exercise descriptions and videos. Athletes can also record weights used and reps performed in order to track their progress. Apps like TrainHeroic allow athletes to connect with their teammates virtually, and foster consistency, a crucial component of any fitness program.
“The most important thing is consistency. The best workout is the one that you will do. I think if you’re going to stay motivated, you have to work in things that will make it fun. You need to figure out what activities you enjoy and can celebrate success along the way,” Vine said.
As Gusties fall into a new routine at home for the ensuing month, it is especially important to plan ahead and make fitness a priority, according to, which recommends finding popular local jogging/walking routes in advance of one’s trip.
The popular fitness blogging app Strava allows users to view “segments” all around the world that can help guide route creation when visiting unfamiliar locations.
A variety of fitness-themed Youtube videos can provide a free personal training experience right from one’s phone. Channels like growingannanas and Gym Performance have over 30,000 subscribers and provide intensive bodyweight-only workouts centered around HIIT (high intensity interval training) and crossfit-type movements.
Other channels, like Yoga with Adriene or Breathe and Flow (each with over 100,000 subscribers worldwide), provide yoga routines at levels ranging from beginner to advanced to help relieve stress, build balance, and maintain flexibility amid the stress of finals.
The holidays provide an opportunity to reconnect with family that many students haven’t experienced in quite some time. Encouraging family members to spend time together walking outside provides a COVID-safe way to stay active and bond.
However Gusties choose to safely stay active this holiday season, connection will continue to play a big role in their collective motivation through apps, family, and the personal ownership and commitment to their sport that is a hallmark of Division III athletics.