Austin Ekeler, like all of us, is staying at home as America continues to practice social distancing in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus (get the latest on the coronavirus pandemic at CBS News). And while we're all adjusting to what is the new normal, Ekeler has found new ways to stay in shape while staying at home.
Ekeler, who recently signed a four-year, $24 million deal with the Chargers, has started streaming and sharing his workouts on social media, offering options for people who are looking for new workout ideas during this time.
"Finding a gym is nearly impossible. I can run, but I need to keep up my weight -- not through eating, but by lifting," Ekeler said in a recent interview with GQ's Jeff Tomko. "I have some small weights at home. It's not the type of training I'd like to be doing, but I'm still engaging my muscles."
Ekeler's workouts are being made by his girlfriend, Taylor Frick, who is a personal trainer. Frick's plan for Ekeler is "aerobic, full-body workouts, using lots of core holds and different athletic moments," Ekeler said. "We did one the other day, and my legs were like Jell-O. You're pushing it the entire time. When I got done I was dripping wet.
"We did burpees, different types of lunges, pushups, and engaged our core, all for 30-second intervals. She also loves to do different types of jumps—star jumps, some twist jumps. Those are good, functional workouts that will get your heart rate up after about 30 seconds. They kind of fit into the aerobic type of movements I should be doing as a football player."
Ekeler is also mindful of his diet, making some subtle changes to his typical eating routine.
"Taylor is 100 percent vegan, and I've recently become more plant-based in my diet," Ekeler said. "To me, if you eat things in moderation, your diet should be fine. I've cut out as many fatty and sugary things, processed foods, as possible. But every now and then I'll have a pizza or some ice cream."
While staying at home has its restrictions, it hasn't stopped Ekeler from doing what he can to prepare for what should be a big year for the soon-to-be fourth-year veteran. With Melvin Gordon's departure, Ekeler, who received 11 starts in his first three seasons, is now the Chargers' featured back. Ekeler earned the promotion after taking advantage of his ability to start last season during Gordon's holdout. While he still only started half of the Chargers' games, Ekeler still make a significant impact, tallying 1,550 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. Ekeler served a vital role in the Chargers' passing game, catching 93 passes for 993 yards and eight touchdowns.
Gordon wasn't the only high-profile teammate Ekeler has lost in recent weeks. Philip Rivers, the Chargers' quarterback since 2004, signed a one-year deal with the Colts shortly after the start of the new league year. After playing with a seasoned veteran, it looks like Ekeler will now serve as a mentor for a young quarterback in 2020. While several veteran quarterbacks (most notably Cam Newton and Jameis Winston) are currently on the market, CBS Sports draft analysts Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso both have the Chargers selecting former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick in their recent mock drafts. That will likely lead to a heavier workload for Ekeler, who averaged just 148 touches during his first three seasons.
As he continues to prepare (and share) his at-home workouts in preparation for the 2020 season, Ekeler has an answer for the one thing every running back should do to stay in shape during this time.
"Run," he said with a laugh. "I'd say run just because you're sitting down so much, and that will engage your entire body. I wouldn't say lifting would be absolutely necessary. I would think you'd need more aerobic-type activities."