Torben “Turbo” Schuffert (17) competes in the 200-metre snowshoe race at the Special Olympics national championship in 2019. He won gold. (Contributed photo)

Torben “Turbo” Schuffert (17) competes in the 200-metre snowshoe race at the Special Olympics national championship in 2019. He won gold. (Contributed photo)

Special Olympics athletes stay active

A combination of local and provincial programs are keeping competitors connected and in shape

Opportunities to train with teammates and compete may still be a distant prospect, but Smithers Special Olympics athletes are still finding ways to stay in shape and remain competitive.

These include a number of local and provincial initiatives incuding the Smithers Move and Meet, a biweekly workout and social event conducted via Zoom.

National snowshoeing gold medalist Torben Schuffert is one of the athletes participating and said his favourite part is “hanging out with my friends and staying healthy.”

Coach (and Torben’s mom) Sandra Schuffert, said it has been very important for all the kids’ mental wellbeing.

“Most of our athletes feel very isolated, so I think they need have some time to actually chat and catch up with everyone,” she said.

The program itself is an online adaptation of the Special Olympics Club Fit program, an exercise regimen designed specifically for Special Olympics athletes, but featuring many elements familiar to all athletes for cardio, strength, flexibility and

“I would almost desribe it as a boot camp,” said Sandra. “I can tell you, after the last time we did it, my muscles were sore the next day.”

Additionally, Special Olympics BC has a number of other online resources available to keep athletes fit and socially connected. These include online workouts and sports activities, yoga, even a dance club.

For Torben, though, his favourite thing so far has been the Winter Warrior Challenge, he said.

The challenge is a seven-week program that involves daily wellness, nutrition and hydration goals, which runs until the end of February.

Athletes are asked to participate in one fitness activity per day, as well as, eat a prescribed five servings of fruit and vegetables and drink 2.5 litres of water.

The program suggests dozens of “Get Moving” activities and provides a number of healthy recipes. Participants are asked to document everything they do on a handy chart provided and submit videos and photos for a chance to win prizes.

Torben said he is really enjoying the challenge, but ultimately is just looking forward to the pandemic being over so he can get back to the face-to-face camaraderie and competition.

“What I think is quite amazing, is what you actually can do during the pandemic,” Sandra said. “I would have never thought that Torben could participate in a program throughout the year with everyone in BC.

“I think we have to look at some of the positive things that are happening right now.”

Sandra said if she could turn back the clock, she would in a heartbeat, but going forward there could be a place for both the pre- and post-pandemic programs.

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