The Silver Lining to the Pandemic: Priority Shift & The Oddball Father/Son Workout Duo.

How to work on coaching skills, get in best shape of your life and connect with your son? Easy, just go through a pandemic.

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As coaches, parents, volunteers we commit to contribution.  When it really comes down to it, it is a commitment to the development of people and/or a cause we believe in.

The pandemic has forced us to re-think and re-shape this commitment. 

This week I wanted to share some reflections on a silver lining to this crazy time.

This is not easy to share, I must say. I have never been one to put things out there about family life. However, a number of people have commented on our relationship and after checking with my son to make sure it was okay, I thought maybe this might have a positive effect on others.

So here we go.

2020 has been nothing like we planned. 

At any level, in any way.

Now restrictions are tightening up, and it looks like will continue to be so for another few months.

It reminds me of the quote from the Godfather:

“Just when you thought you were out, they pulled you back in”.

The pandemic continues.

I have a friend who, if all goes according to projection, will have his business closed until March 2020.  That means from March 2019 to March 2020, they will have been open 3 months.  3 months.  Devastating.

The pandemic is changing our world as we know it, permanently. 

Many behaviors have changed as well.

In my world, business travel has been shut down.  It was a big part of my life prior to the pandemic.

Flights, hotels, meals on the go.  Early mornings and later evenings.  I built my coaching around that kind of schedule, which just added to the weight of the demands of each day, week, month.

In my world, that did become the norm for the last 10 years.

Until it was stopped.  Abruptly.

Work was and is virtual. 

Projects pivoted.

Sleep in same bed every night.

Meals at home.  

Coaching pivoted to online.

During this hard change, something happened though that I did not expect.

A silver lining emerged. A blessing within a very challenging time.

Time started to free up.  

In March 2019,  my son and wife were home, and we were together every day all day.   Even though that changed a little as restrictions eased, there was still no travel, and not much live coaching.

As much as the change was significant for myself and my wife, I think the change on a 19 year old was the most significant. 

College was supposed to start in September (all online now form home), there was a baseball season to prepare for (summer and fall cancelled) and work was scheduled for the summer (interrupted).

You combine that with no longer hanging with friends and we needed to come up with something to slow down the descent into screen viewing hell (or worse).

I only share this because I know many of you can relate. This is not about our schedule or changes, this is what we have all faced to a certain extent.

Our youth have had it and continue to have it tough. This became a concern.  Our adult world still functioned with some semblance of normalcy, but for the kid, not so much.  All went upside down.

All that being removed from a 19 year old caused us some concern. Concern around mental health.

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So what did we do?

We turned to an old friend.

The workout.  

Physical training.

Jamie starting building workouts and movement training into his routine about 6 years ago at 14 to build himself up for baseball.  He started working with Wayne and Adam at The Pursuit Athletic Center in Guelph, and he has been faithful to it since. My dependence on exercise and training has endured most of my life. He had been training for baseball development. I am training for the demands of life!

As a result of the shut down and need for something, I structured a daily workout for us.

I got his buy in. (Which was critically important and thankfully did not take much prodding. He was bored.)

We experimented with different times of day. We started in the mornings and that worked for many weeks, maybe 2.5 months. Then we moved to later in the day.

It gave us some time together. We fired up the music.

We had an outlet that became a point of daily and weekly focus.

At one point he turned to me, a number of weeks in and said “Dad, I really think our workout time is special”.

As Dads we get choked up sometimes at watershed moments. This was one of them.

I loved working out and have for years. 

Training for him was always about baseball, now it also included mental health benefits.

We have had this time together and it feel like bonus time.

Is there anything better? Not for me.

On top of the time together, the workouts continue and we have continued to benefit in a number of ways:

1.      It pushed me to keep a variety in the workouts. I did not want the kid  to get bored, and since we had restricted access to equipment, it tested my programming game.  Loved the challenge. As a bonus he gets to critique the workout on the fun factor and difficulty level.

2.      Jamie had input on the programming.

What do we want to do? What did we do last time? What did we like that we wanted to do again?

What did we NOT like that DID NOT want to do again? 

How did our bodies feel?

We talked about it.

He gave me some ideas and feedback.  That was really cool.  That came from his knowledge he has built up over 6 years.

He is no as passionate about working out as I am, but he humored me in our discussions. That was and is fun.

3.      It pushed me to do the workouts I programmed.   As a coach, this was a great learning experience.

Doing the workouts gives a different perspective than just prescribing.

We did single leg work, balance work, get ups in a variety of ways, a variety of core exercises and modified pushing and pulling. We got creative on the conditioning by pulling out the slide board in the basement. Mostly, we used the floor when we did not have space. Some medicine ball work (on the floor, no walls to use). Kettlebell swings, weighted carries, band work, gym ball…you name it.  Variety became a staple even with restricted equipment.   We both felt better and got in much better condition.

4.      We went outside when we could. Throwing the football. Sprints at the field. To the basketball court. Some of our conditioning was some 1 on 1 or elimination shooting game. The summer through fall weather cooperated.

As the weather got nicer he would go on his runs when he had trouble sleeping and started experimenting with roller blading (more equipment that needed dusting off) and also going for a walk.

5.      Our workouts led to more care around our daily meals. They were not always healthiest (we love sugar and bread in our house) but they were planned out differently than before.  Trips to the grocery store required more planning (as did for everyone), and every day requires some preparation that was not happening before.   Our time at home has given us the time to prepare. That has been fun.

6.      Our workouts evolved as we got stronger, the restrictions eased and we got back to our favorite facilities. Playball Academy Canada and Pursuit. Now that they are restricting again, we will adjust if we have to.

In both facilities we are oddballs I am sure.  The 55 year old is working alongside his 19 year old son. I am coaching him, but he is coaching me. We are encouraging each other. We laugh. We talk.

7.      The connection.  This should be #1. But I go back to the time together. Just him & I.

8 months later and counting, baseball is still on pause as we head into the winter months and things are closing down again.   

We have kept the workouts up. We will continue on.

Our meals are still at home.  Travel is still out.  I am learning to like that.

There have been many things that have frustrated me or made me sad during the pandemic, however, the additional time together has created a silver lining that I hope has some sustainability to it.

Jamie said to me on the day I wrote this, that the workouts have kept him mentally stable. He is adjusting to the demands of college academics without any of the benefits he has planned for.  He feels he will be stronger mentally and physically when he can be on campus.

While we will remember 2020 as being challenging, I will remember this time with my son very fondly.

The way we contribute has changed. We can all do our part.

Stay healthy!


The Physical Movement has shared 24 weekly emails since May 2020 and has over 100 articles posted on the site.. It was born in the pandemic.

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