"Fun", as described by Strength and Conditioning Coach Lori Alexander, means a change of pace, breaking completely out of the ordinary lifting routine. Since the summer is long and workouts are non-mandatory, Lori likes to add variety to the workouts to add interest and motivation.
Squeezing in workouts around jobs, internships, and summer classes usually means the team lifts late in the afternoon. On Fridays, however, the players prefer to do it in the morning in order to get an early start on the weekend.
The fun begins bright and early on Friday morning, when Lori explains the plan for the day.
During an ordinary workout, players lift hard, have a relatively long recovery, then lift "heavy" again. On this particular Friday, however, the plan is to start with something big, doing the hardest thing first, and do as much of it as you can, until you can't do any more-- then do it again. And again.
So they start with the bench press. Here, Nicole Jules is the spotter for Cherish Stringfield.
Then it's on to dumbbells on the incline to isolate the upper chest. Again, for each set, the players go until they can't do any more, then again in the next set, they keep pushing again until they can't do any more. After the incline, they move straight on to pushups.
"They can usually do a whole lot," says Lori, "but after they've done bench and incline, they're so tired, it makes it really hard and they pretty much fall flat on their face."
Here Lori is spotting Jenn Hall on the incline, while the hand of an unidentified player struggling through her pushups can be seen at the lower left. (Are we having fun yet?)
With some teams you might not do this kind of a workout because it requires pushing yourself, with a little encouragement from your teammates.
However, Lori says that with this group, "They'll say, 'Okay, two more ya'll!' - and sometimes you'll have to say, 'I think that's enough' because they just want to work so hard. This team team works so hard that it's fun to do stuff like this."
Here's Erica Grimaldi having fun...
...and Ashley Earley.
After about 40 minutes of fun, the team pauses to contemplate the meaning of Lori's T-shirt: "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional."
But the fun isn't over, yet. Next, the team, along with a lacrosse player and two soccer players from the men's team, crosses the street to Dudley Field for "stadiums."
Lori explains that since there is a work crew power washing the bleachers, instead of starting at the north endzone and working their way all around the horseshoe of the stadium, they'll start in the middle, work their way to the north end zone, then back again.
Erica Grimaldi, closest to the camera, seems to be saying, "In other words, we go this-a-way!"
And the stadium lies before them, sprawling into the distance.
"Stadiums" are simple to describe: You run all the way up one aisle, run across the top to the next aisle, run down to the field, run across the bottom to the next aisle, then run up to the top, across to the next aisle, and so on, all the way to the end. And then you do the same thing all the way back.
Doing them, however, is another matter entirely.
Here Ashley Earley is on her way down one of the aisles.
Erica's nickname is "E". Maybe "E" stands for Erica, then again, maybe it stands for the "Energizer Bunny", as she far out-distances everyone else, including the guys from the soccer team.
And when she's completed her run, she becomes head cheerleader, cheering the rest of her teammates on to the finish line.
Then it's back to the McGugin Center for still more fun.
Lori checks in with Nicole Jules, who rides the exercise bike instead of running the stadium stairs to help protect her knee...
...and shares a laugh with Erica, who is finishing her lifting.
Since Abi Ramsey's internship this summer is essentially a full-time job, she doesn't have a lot of time to spend with her teammates. She does her lifting before she goes to work and plays pickup after she gets home, which adds up to a 12-hour day.
But the Friday morning workout is early enough for her to attend before she leaves for work, and during a water break, she and her fellow senior Ashley Earley have a chance to chat.
And then the "fun" is over - at least until next week, when Friday comes around again.
Photos by Whitney D., copyright 2004 for VandyMania.com.