Heart and Soul Tae Kwon Do held their annual tournament in January. Jim Bailey photo.

Greater Trail athletes keep calm and carry on

Fitness options are still available despite shuttering of facilities and organized sport

While almost every conceivable championship, tournament, event, playoff, and season in the sporting world has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus, there are some local athletes that continue to ‘Keep calm and carry on’.

A half-dozen mixed-martial artists from the Ruha Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Club were set to test their skills for the first time this weekend at the 2020 Tiger Balm Internationals tournament in North Vancouver. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait, after the tournament announced it’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 virus.

“They are bummed, super bummed,” said Ruha head coach Greg Coombs. “I pushed them really hard to be prepared for this, so they were pretty disappointed when it was cancelled.”

Coombs started the club in August and began training at West Trail’s Central School facility. Since its inception, it has attracted both male and female, young and older practitioners. With a steady group of about 15 fighters, the club trains Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, while maintaining a safe personal distance in the spacious facility.

Given the recent spectre of the corona virus hanging over our collective heads, phyiscal fitness can only help people cope with the pandemic, says Coombs.

“It’s a good workout. The sport demands the best in athleticism, and I always take great pride in that my athletes are in great physical shape.”

Coombs specializes in Muay Thai with seasoned grappler C.J. Bagg his fulltime coach for Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The club hopes to see action in upcoming tournaments in Calgary and Vancouver, depending on the current pandemic.

The Heart and Soul Tae Kwon Do gym in Fruitvale is also finding ways to keep their athletes active.

Related read: Tae Kwon Do athletes excel at Kelowna Tournament

The gym is closed during the regular spring-break as planned, and has not been part of the mandated closure. The club will take the necessary steps to ensure that the dojo and the equipment are well sanitized and can accomodate about six participants to maintain the safe six-foot social distancing, but with the way things are going that may change overnight.

“We have lots of soap and hand sanitizer available and will limit hand to hand techniques,” Master Jakki said on FaceBook. “As always if you aren’t feeling well, please stay home. If you are healthy, exercise will only help you stay that way.”

Heart and Soul is also looking at offering virtual training sessions online, so people can get their workout fix through Google classroom and hangouts, Skype, or Zoom.

“If this gets worse and we end up stuck in our houses, I am still committed to help you reach your fitness goals. Soup cans and milk jugs make good weights but we can do most without them,” added Jakki. “Working out is a great stress reliever and I know you are all stuck at home with kids and need this.”

Up in Rossland, the Black Jack Cross Country Ski Team is still on track and training through until April. Despite the cancellation of the Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships in Canmore and the World Cup in Quebec, Black Jack skiers will continue to train and stay in shape for next season.

“All competitions and meets have been cancelled,” said Black Jack coach Dave Wood. “We have great skiing and will carry on with ski-training until mid-April.”

The Black Jack Ski Club is also keeping its trails open to the public. A Mar. 17 statement on the club’s website read: “Lots of opportunity for personal distancing, and the break you need on Black Jack’s 45 + km of trails. Grooming underway, and precautions too: while you can enjoy the sun from the trailhead cabin deck, the cabin itself will be closed. Lots of countertop, point-of-sale, and doorhandle wiping, and of course handwashing by kiosk staff. Come and enjoy the great outdoors!”

Admittedly, with the closure of most facilities, finding ways to exercise is getting more and more difficult by the minute, but cross-country skiing, running, cycling, and walking are great ways to stay fit, and using stationary equipment at home is even better.

Online training is another great option and provides a social outlet for those that have self-isolated.

So in the words of Master Jakki, “Keep calm and do the workout!”


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