Cold temperatures and pouring rain are not enough to keep a group of high-performance Grade 8 athletes at Thomas Haney Secondary from their workout regimen.
The students are part of SD42’s Peak Performance program, a specialized curriculum designed to guide student artists and athletes to an increased level of personal performance in their area of interest.
For coach Paul Franco’s Grade 8s, that means Crossfit-style training three times a week — and rough weather is not going to get in their way.
“They don’t complain,” he said. “We don’t opt out if the weather is bad. Even if it is raining, they don’t want to miss their workouts.”
Ordinarily, the class is held in a high-end weight-room. But due to physical-distancing protocols, the students have been conducting their workouts in the elements on the school’s turf field.
Because they are limited to weights they can carry outside, Franco, who coaches with fellow instructor Josh Carriss, said the athletes have become extremely well-versed in their modified routine. Students start with a 400 m run, 40 kettlebell swings and 40 goblet squats, and decrease the number of reps over the course of the hour-long class.
“These kids are becoming really proficient,” he said. “We are seeing incredible improvements because of all the consistency.”
With workouts geared toward improving core strength, students come from a variety of athletic backgrounds. Figure skaters, swimmers, lacrosse players, soccer players and hockey players all find the workouts beneficial to their respective sport, Franco added.
Students join their specific pod in Grade 8 and build on their skills over the course of their secondary school career. Franco said Grade 12s Dylan Smail and Ben Fontaine help coach the younger athletes, showing the new students the progress they can make if they stick with the program.
The Grade 8s are already seeing major improvement since the beginning of the year, Franco added, noting the speed with which they complete their sets has decreased significantly since the fall.
“The workouts are pretty gruelling,” he said. “But they have such great attitudes.”