AUGUSTA — There’s a reason the Central Maine Strongman competition is always in April. The event kicks off the Strongman season in New England and draws competitors from all over the region to the Augusta area.

So there’s a reason Gina LoMonaco didn’t want to see it moved. She soon saw, though, that the coronavirus wasn’t going to give anyone a choice.

“It’s such a big thing that we look forward to. It’s such a staple,” said LoMonaco, who owns GEvolution Fitness in Augusta, which hosts the annual competition. “There’s so much excitement that comes with and so much we look forward to, so it was just sad. (But) it had to be done.”

GEvolution Fitness founder Gina LoMonaco waves to class members at the start of a virtual workout Wednesday that was streamed from the dining room of her family’s Augusta home. Her husband and fellow coach Rick Mansir runs the broadcast. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

The 13th Central Maine Strongman competition was supposed to be held April 11 but was instead postponed to Oct. 24, a necessary move that nevertheless came as a blow for everyone involved in the event.

“It’s one of the longest-running contests in the country,” said organizer Dana Geneseo, a former competitor. “It specifically starts the season. This year, that won’t be the case. But I guess, double-sided, no one’s running a contest. It’s still going to be a big show.”

Difficult a decision as it was to move the event, organizers and competitors are finding and focusing on the bright sides to the fall date.

“To force something like this at a time like this, there would have been no energy, no love, no excitement,” LoMonaco said. “(We’ll be) back training, we’ve got extra time to work on extra things. … I think what it’s going to end up doing is allow some folks to depressurize, take a lot pressure off themselves and stop thinking about all the bad stuff.”

Max Rouleau, a competitor in the men’s open lightweight class, feels the same way.

“There were things I needed to work on, and I can really use this time to build up on my weak areas,” he said. “I’ve been working on my cardio, which is definitely my weakest point as far as strongman training goes.”

That’s not to say things are easier. Strongman training follows a plan that’s geared toward getting the athlete ready to go by the competition date, with arranged escalation and deload periods, and that routine has been broken up. The gyms are closed as well, making it difficult for the athletes to work on the specific lifts and with the sorts of implements they’ll need for the competition.

At the same time, Geneseo said, the nature of the sport is adjusting to unknowns and variables on the day of the event, and the key for athletes now is using that approach to get creative with whatever is around the house.

“I try to tell the competitors I talk to that strongman is about adapting to what’s put in front of you,” he said. “For people who rely on a commercial gym and now have to adapt their own training in their own (home), you just have to try to recreate what you’re doing with what you have available.”

The competitors have followed that advice. Rouleau said he does leg raises and crunches to work on his core at home, but he also runs hills to improve his cardio and lifts whatever he can find around his house and yard.

“Any sort of landscaping. I’m picking up rocks. As silly as it sounds, it works. It’s basically what strongman is anyway,” he said. “If you have some buckets, just fill them up with water and carry them around, build up some arm strength and back strength.”

Lori Rioux, a coach at GEvolution who once qualified for the Strongman Corporation Masters Nationals, has been getting resourceful as well.

“I’m putting together what I can for home use, just to stay active,” she said. “I’m finding non-traditional items to pick up and move and try to stay busy. … I’m using paint cans here, we’ve got an empty portable tool box, just something that’s very awkward. It’s hard to try to be creative, but really, anything that’s awkward and has some weight to it can be beneficial.”

The focus is on improving overall body strength until the gyms are open again. GEvolution lent out some equipment to members before closing to help them through the interim, and LoMonaco has been running Zoom workout classes along with her husband, Rick Mansir, and the rest of the gym’s coaching staff.

Gevolution Fitness founder Gina LoMonaco, right, hugs herself during a warmup at the start of a virtual workout class from the dining room of her family’s Augusta home Wednesday. Her husband and fellow coach Rick Mansir runs the broadcast. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“We need to be in a gym facility to be pushing big weight, to be using strongman implements,” LoMonaco said. “But not many of us have that in our homes, so right now, during this four-week period, what we’re leaning toward more for these athletes is more of a cross-training scenario.”

The toughest part, some competitors said, has been the social aspect going on hiatus.

“Not having my training partner, not having that camaraderie and the support,” Rioux said. “Even though we may not always work out at the same time, we’re still there supporting each other. … It takes away from what I enjoy a lot about the strongman community.”

The plan, however, is for the new October date to give the athletes ample time to return to those routines and prepare once the gyms open back up.

“We want this to be a great show for the athletes,” LoMonaco said. “I believe that many, many, many of us are going to have just deeper appreciation for even the smallest things.”

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