Aztecs’ Yi gets creative to stay football fit during pandemic

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SAN DIEGO — Justin Yi may not have a starting spot on the Aztecs football team, but when it comes to creative fitness, he’s an All-American. Forced to stay at home, he’s resorted to things like using his little sister to do squats and that’s not all.

With no backyard or garage, Yi has made the most of the limited space in his family’s Bay Area apartment.

“I actually had nothing at my house so the first couple weeks I was doing the basic stuff,” Yi said. “Push-ups, going on runs. So I decided to get some bands … I looked under (my dad’s) bed one day and he had two sets of dumbbells.”

But for a 6-foot, 3-inch, 280-pound lineman he needed something more — so he recruited his 17-year-old sister Gina.

“I told her this is going to sound a little weird, but I’m going to have you go on my back and I’m going to do a set of squats with you,” Yi said, laughing.

He’s also filled his backpack with heavy water bottles and improvised with large bags of rice. The red-shirt sophomore, who plays right tackle, also keeps his mind sharp.

“I’m more of a writing learner, so I have a lot of papers and notes that I write down all the plays in, because these past couple weeks we’ve basically been going through the entire playbook again,” Yi said.

The 21-year-old admits not having his teammates or coaches around to motivate him feels different, but he’s learned to shift his mindset by focusing on the future — one he hopes includes a football season.

“If I felt like there wasn’t a season I wouldn’t be working out a whole lot,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing the field work, I wouldn’t be taking the notes, because in my mind if there’s not a season, ‘What do I need to focus on?’ But I’m keeping a positive mindset, thinking we’re going to have a season, so I can keep working.”

Fingers crossed that hard work pays off.

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