In times of uncertainty, a common phrase is to control the controllables. For Orlando Pride Strength & Conditioning Coach Ivi Casagrande, she has been doing just that.
With the NWSL now in its third week of a training moratorium, Casagrande and the rest of the Pride staff have been forced to adjust their normal day-to-day in order to work remotely. In a role that centers around constant monitoring of the players and their fitness, she has faced a unique challenge in staying connected to the team.
In this new reality, the one aspect she missed most from her job was coaching. So, she found a way to coach from home.
With most people now limited to working out from home, finding new and creative ways to be active can be challenging. Therefore, in order to help her neighbors and to fulfill her own desires to coach again, Casagrande took matters into her own hands.
At her local apartment complex, Casagrande began to lead social distancing group workout sessions, with members of her community performing the exercises from their balconies while she instructed from the courtyard.
“I started to realize that I wanted to give back to the community in any way I could. It is extremely rewarding to impact people and give them something to be distracted from the anxiety of what is going on around us,” Casagrande said of the workouts.
Miss coaching so much and had an amazing group of neighbors begging for a group workout from their patios, so that’s what we did today. No money can buy seeing people getting good smiles and distraction from these crazy times, and enjoying being present with one another. pic.twitter.com/QWPQIc1EGl— Ivi Casagrande (@ivicasagrande) March 20, 2020
The workouts started with just three patios, but have since become a staple at the complex, taking place four to five times a week with the number of participants continuing to climb.
“More and more people are joining us and everybody is just so appreciative that I am giving my time to help them stay active. It was great to see people all over the world watch the video and be inspired to maybe do the same,” Casagrande said of the response. “I think it sends a great message that in the middle of the chaos, people can still do their small part to impact and help others.
“Now going forward they know a library of exercises they can do on their own and they know the right techniques. They all have a smile on their face after it's done because they feel so accomplished.”
Since beginning these at-home workouts, Casagrande has been posting exercises on her own social media platforms in an effort to engage others outside of her complex while also continuing to immerse herself in her full-time job in staying connected with members of the Pride on their personal programs.
In doing so, she has created weekly mobility and stability challenges to keep the players engaged. In addition, she has utilized the app Teambuildr to provide the team with both running and gym workouts that are easily accessible from home.
Day... we don't know but the gang is still getting their fitness on. pic.twitter.com/vvEVA4TSum— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) March 26, 2020
“The compliance from all of the players and buy-in has been amazing because they know it is all for their benefit in maintaining their overall fitness,” Casagrande said. “It has been hard for me to not be with the team and staff for so long, but I am trying to take the positives out of the situation and make sure I support each player in every way possible to make sure they are not only physically ready, but they can take this time to work on the things they need the most.”
Overall, Casagrande says she cannot understate the importance of staying active during this time. Coupled with the well-known physical benefits of frequent exercise, the mental piece can be a huge help in maintaining the overall health of an individual during a high-stress situation.
“When you are working out, you are not only reducing the levels of stress hormones, but you are also distracted from watching the news, or staying glued to your cell phone or TV screen,” Casagrande said. “It is crucial to do simple exercises since now we are all limited from our normal physical and active routine. This not only improves the immune system, but also the cardiovascular and respiratory systems while helping with the mental health side.”
Through all of this uncertainty, Casagrande has remained steadfast in her commitment to doing all she can to help others through her line of work.
While the timeline is uncertain, she knows that if she has anything to say about it, in the end we will all come out stronger - both physically and mentally.