Left without access to facilities, Gophers gymnasts find creative ways to train

Through intrateam competitions and substitutions of normal equipment, the Gophers are getting creative to stay in shape.

The Gophers cheer for a teammate during their meet against the Fighting Illini at the Maturi Pavilion on Friday, Jan. 24. 

Parker Johnson

The Gophers cheer for a teammate during their meet against the Fighting Illini at the Maturi Pavilion on Friday, Jan. 24. 

AJ Condon

Without access to the practice facility in Cooke Hall, it hasn’t been easy for the Gophers men’s gymnastics team to stay in shape during the quarantine. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying. 

Despite gymnastics being one of the toughest sports to stay in shape for without proper equipment, the Gophers have found creative outlets to work on their craft. 

“It’s obviously a hard thing to have any kind of consistency ’cause everybody is at home. There is a whole lot of stuff you can do with just your body, but it’s just not quite the same,” said head coach Mike Burns. “A lot of it is just trying to be creative in our problem-solving.”

The Gophers’ normal practice facility includes a full vault, pommel horse, high bar and rings set up — none of which are easily available to the gymnasts now. 

Some of the gymnasts have been able to use their home gyms, and Burns even told his gymnasts to look at local playgrounds to find relatively similar equipment. Sophomore Danny Yoon is using his dining room chairs for workouts.

Burns also found a substitute for sophomore Jake Sawyer to use to practice for pommel horse. Using his connections, Burns was able to get a buck horse made, which on the ground is about half the size of a pommel horse, for Sawyer to use for drills. It will remain in Sawyer’s home in Colorado for now, but he plans to bring it to the Cooke Hall gym once things return to normalcy.

Another popular move by several gymnasts has been to buy rings online and either hang them on rafters in the garage or on a branch outside. On top of all the creativity, they are still doing weight lifting, pushups, crunches and conditioning to stay in shape.

The Gophers co-captains, junior Shane Wiskus and senior Timmy Kutyla, started weekly competitions to keep the team connected while doing their workouts remotely, adding weekly challenges as a fun way to hold the team accountable.

These competitions have included challenges like the slowest pushup, longest handstand time and fastest mile. 

“Every week is a new challenge, and we all post our videos to a team drive. It’s kind of just light competition between the guys,” Wiskus said. “We’re definitely pushing it, and it’s motivating to have everyone participate and trying to find ways to stay fit in this time.”