Vancouver Whitecaps staying fit by competing against each other with workout challenge

Jake Nerwinski - Vancouver Whitecaps - pointing, closeup

In the absence of other team to play against, the players on the Vancouver Whitecaps are competing against each other.

Faced with the task of keeping his players as fit as possible while they can't train as a group, Whitecaps strength and conditioning coach Jon Poli came up with a workout challenge for his players to see who could log the most hours on the programs he's given the players during the MLS season suspension. Speaking with reporters on a Zoom conference call on Tuesday, Vancouver defender Jake Nerwinski said the challenge has taken over the team, and he's focused on trying to win the competition.

"It's been consuming all the players," Nerwinski said. "I’m priding myself on at least getting top five. So working out is definitely the thing I’ve been doing most."

Of course, you can only work out so many hours in a day. When he's not logging hours on Poli's challenge, Nerwinski said the new skill he's trying to pick up is the piano, which he said is going well on some days where he'll practice for up to an hour at a time and other days where "it's 15 minutes and I just want to throw the thing away."

Nerwinski, who hails from New Jersey, said it's been difficult being quarantined so far away from his family, especially since they're located in an area of the United States that has been among the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 25-year-old University of Connecticut product said he's happy to report his family are all safe and healthy at the moment, and doing their best to follow the experts' guidelines.

"My family is all safe right now, they’re all quarantining and trying not to leave the house as much as possible," he said. "My dad is a city manager for the town I live in, so he’s a government official, so he’s had to go into work every day, he’s been in meetings for 3-4 hours a day, he’s been pretty stressed out. But he knows a lot of information, so he’s been relaying that to my family to make sure everybody’s safe and all that."

For Whitecaps midfielder/defender Andy Rose, who was also on Tuesday's call, all those precautions are extra important because he's diabetic. 

Rose said the services the club has provided, from workout equipment to meals, have helped him with staying at home as much as possible and let him manage the situation -- which he says is best handled by establishing a careful routine that he's been sticking with.

"My wife is six months pregnant so I’d much rather be the one going out to the stores and stocking up than her, so it’s the same as everyone else," Rose said. "Making sure you’re smart about distancing yourself from others, trying to limit the amount of times you go to the store, the Whitecaps have provided us with incredible meal service which helps with that, so just trying to be as smart as possible, making sure I exercise as much as normal and trying to stick to a routine.

"With diabetes, the best way to combat it is to get in a good routine, eat well, eat healthy. Although it gets a little boring without football in your life every day, my family and I have been trying to get in a good routine in terms of staying healthy, working out and continuing to follow all the guidelines."