The Outdoor Weight Room

Poly’s Athletic Staff adapts to new safety regulations by creating an outdoor workout space on the football field and track


COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives. With school moving completely outside, athletic training at the Dyker Heights Campus has followed suit. Even before the pandemic, the coaches had been creative in utilizing all of campus, but six months ago being restricted to only working out outside would have been unimaginable, and students never would have pictured all our athletic equipment on the field. The Poly Prep athletic staff has been accommodating in allowing students the option of working out during the school day.

Poly’s Director of High Performance and former Olympic athlete Coach Richard James is leading workouts Monday to Thursday between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. He said that it is essential to “make the necessary adjustments for survival, fun, and improvement.” It is important to keep our bodies safe and to maintain our strength, especially at a time when respiratory health is so important.

While students are not able to compete against other schools, athletic training provides a much needed mental break from their academics. The workouts ground people, giving them an opportunity to exert energy and get rid of frustrations and stress.

Coach James recognizes that despite the uncertainties over whether sport seasons will return, the athletes must be prepared to compete, taking inspiration from Sun Tzu: “The Skillful Warrior does not rely on the enemy’s not coming, but on his own preparedness.” Coach James’s commitment to each athlete is immeasurable, and his program is designed to encourage everyone to exercise regardless of their involvement in sports.

Andrew Hart, a senior on the football team, said that he likes “working out outside as opposed to not working out at all.” He is “happy [he] can interact with [his] teammates safely while getting better at the same time.”

Dylan Moskowitz, a junior who plays basketball, said that while he “definitely [likes] what we’re doing with the track and [likes] working out there,” he enjoys “working out indoors better than out on the track,” saying the “wind and sun can be annoying.”

Overall, everyone is happy to be able to workout, but students are split on whether the new setup is as functional as the traditional indoor setup.

In addition to the outdoor workouts, Coach James is hosting virtual workouts Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:00 pm with Assistant Director of Sports Performance Jillian Wojcik, who is at the Lower School Park Slope Campus during the day and unable to coach the in-person workouts. There are also workouts posted to the Poly Blue Devils Instagram page on Mondays and Fridays.

During the outdoor workouts, students and coaches are social distancing and wearing masks and gloves to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. The Poly community happily follows COVID-19 protocols and recognizes how lucky Poly is to have the space and resources to create this wonderful outdoor gym.