a woman in black gym clothes throws a high kick to a makeshift sparing partner

Pro athletes find creative ways to train from home during coronavirus

From makeshift sparing buddies to swimming in a kiddie pool, professional athletes get creative during a time of physical distancing.

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Alexandra Recchia, five-time karate world champion, trains in the garden of her house near Paris during a lockdown in France aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.


Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images

When Alexandra Recchia steps onto the mat, the karate world pays attention. The five-time karate World Champion is chasing her biggest podium yet: winning gold for France at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, now rescheduled to 2021. 

Despite stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, Recchia’s dedication to her sport remains the same. What is entirely different is her training setup at her Paris-area home.

“I am training at home, by myself and without a partner,” Recchia told The World. "My boyfriend doesn't really love karate. So he built me a kind of [training] partner with a lamp.” 

He filled a flowerpot with pebbles, stuck a standing lamp inside and attached cushions at head and chest height, sturdy enough to be the sparring buddy for a world-class athlete training at home under coronavirus-mandated quarantine.

“Yea, really," she said. "I [have trained] with that for four weeks. And it is really perfect.”

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Recchia is just one of many professional athletes around the world who have come up with creative ways to continue their training.

Dutch elite distance swimmer Sharon van Rouwendaal, an Olympic gold medalist, has resorted to swimming in an inflatable kiddie pool in her own backyard after she upset local authorities by swimming in a nearby lake. 

“It’s like two meters. So I just fit in. And I have an elastic resistance band and then I put that to a tree," she told The World. "And then actually, I stay in one place, in the pool. So I can swim for one hour, nonstop, going nowhere.”

Other athletes, like American figure skater Jason Brown, have been sharing fun training tips on social media that non-pro athletes can incorporate into their daily exercise routines.

Brown recently demonstrated how to jump the rope while wearing ice skates, and Norwegian wrestler Stig-André Berge replaced weights with his child during a push-up session

Of course, professional athletes follow stricter regimens than regular gym-goers, since they are aiming to break a record or win gold. But when it comes to keeping up with exercise during at a time of physical distancing, Recchia says everyone is battling the same obstacle: maintaining their motivation.

A woman on black gym clothes does a hand-stand on a mat in her backyard.

Alexandra Recchia trains in the garden of her house near Paris during a lockdown in France.


Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images

“The difficulty is to stay motivated," Recchia said. "It is so very important to stay in good health. And we cannot stay in good health if we stay on the sofa."

To get off the sofa, Recchia suggests enlisting quarantine partners or finding virtual training partners to break a sweat without leaving home.

“If you are alone, please, go on Instagram, go on Facebook, and you can see everyday influencers give advice and motivate you to do some sports,” Recchia said. “Move your body and move your mind!”


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