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USU Students Compete in “COVID Cup” Workout, Wellness Challenge

A laptop with a video conferencing page up showing various people working out on camera.
By Zachary Willis

Over the past few months, stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 have left many feeling lethargic, lonely, and in desperate need of activity. It was for these exact reasons that Army 2nd Lt. Dmitriy Treyster pitched the idea of the COVID Cup, a competitive daily workout regime to promote camaraderie and fitness amongst classmates.

A photo edit of a Star Wars poster with COVID Cup participants faces edited over the characters
Army 2nd Lt. Dmitriy Treyster and the COVID
Cup organizational team used promotional material
such as this to rally spirits and increase camaraderie
among the participants. (Graphic illustration
courtesy of 2nd Lt. Kevin Brinkman, class of 2021)
“The idea was a ‘fantasy sports’ style setup, where the students are the ‘players,’” Treyster says. “They earn points for their teams by completing daily workouts, with bonus points for completing them ‘together’ (i.e. on remote conferencing platforms).”

Treyster and his team put out the call to the class of 2021 using a promotional video spearheaded by Air Force 2nd Lt. Ryan Frazier and produced by Air Force 2nd Lt. Steve Mowen for motivation. In no time, they had 80 participants ready to compete. The team then put together a “home page” worksheet to function as their platform to keep track of what the workouts would consist of, tallies of points, and most importantly, the current standings.

The workouts themselves were the work of Army 2nd Lt. Brandon Murdock, the proclaimed “Chief of Fitness,” who took on the job of assembling grueling workouts on a daily basis to challenge Cup participants. The workouts would then be “anonymously” posted on social media by Army 2nd Lt. Melissa Walsh and supplemented by numerous student and faculty contributions, including a weekly yoga series by Navy Ensign Elizabeth Chabay, guided meditation sessions by Public Health Service Ensign Callan Parra, and “Faculty Week” workouts.

“We attempted to create and use workouts that incorporated household objects such as weights, including children since they are also stuck inside the house, and bodyweight for exercises,” Murdock says. “Our goal was a workout that lasted from 20-30 minutes and touched on a number of different muscle groups.”

Murdock goes on to say that the workouts were aimed at building camaraderie through allowing those who finished the workout early to continue to work alongside their teammates, and that he was immensely thankful for the classmates and faculty who sent him workouts to add to the schedule.

Since the inception of the COVID Cup, Treyster says that other classes such as students from the graduate education program and the class of 2022 have followed in their footsteps and started their own versions of the Cup with resounding success.

“It’s achieving the intent of maintaining camaraderie and fitness,” Treyster says. “These are pillars of a successful military unit. A virtual competition like this overcomes the hurdles placed before us by COVID-19, in spite of which we must maintain resiliency, physical and mental fitness. I think a COVID Cup event is scalable at all organizational levels and can achieve these goals.”

A sample workout for the COVID Cup
A sample workout developed by Army 2nd Lt. Brandon Murdock for USU COVID Cup participants.