Back in March, athlete Christa Bleull could still hear the cheers from Basketball Championships when Special Olympics Virginia competition and practice abruptly halted because of COVID-19. Even though she was ready to dive into a whole new season of summer sports with her Area 14 teammates, it would end up being more than 7 months before they could all get together in person.
While Christa did miss practice and competition, she missed her friends most. “I miss just being around them and exercising with them.”
It went from weekends filled with friends and games to isolation -- and the Bleull family felt the impact.
“It left a hole in our lives quite honestly. We were doing something once or twice every week with Special Olympics,” Joe Bleull, Christa’s Dad shared.
So, like many of us, the Bleull family improvised and went on family walks to ensure Christa stayed active. The two-and-a-half-mile loop around their Leesburg neighborhood is filled with steep inclines and beautiful views of Loudoun County. Just 8-weeks ago, Christa would often struggle to complete that loop with her parents.
That was before the Fall Fitness Combine, an 8-week training program designed to keep athletes engaged and active. “In 8 weeks you can see the difference between where she first started and now,” Joe said.
Christa, who initially thought the challenges would be “easy” immediately reversed course and admitted they were quite challenging. For Christa, though, it’s worth the challenge. “I feel stronger every time I do them.”
In fact, she has improved on each and every one of her Fitness Combine scores. She now can complete the two-and-a-half-mile loop with ease.
Beyond her physical accomplishments, Christa also has participated in bi-weekly social Zoom meetings with her teammates to reflect and encourage each other as they go through the combine. And for the first time since Basketball Championships, Christa and her teammates met up to collect their Fitness Combine shirts, socially distanced of course.
For the Bleull family, the Fall Fitness Combine filled a hole created by the pandemic. And one thing is for sure: when Christa does return to the playing fields, she will be stronger than when she left it.
To learn more about the Fall Fitness Combine, you can visit the competition page.