How Paul Goodman’s Zoom workouts kept the Blackhawks in shape during quarantine

Despite a slew of obstacles, the Hawks’ strength and conditioning coach still found a way to lead his players through necessary workouts all spring long.

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After years of conducting in-person workouts with players, Blackhawks strength coach Paul Goodman shifted to Zoom during the pandemic, and his routines are now also available for fans.

Blackhawks Workout Wednesdays screenshot

For the first week after coronavirus stopped the NHL season, Blackhawks strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman was admittedly just trying to make sense of the new reality.

But by the second week — despite being stripped of his normal power to groom the Hawks, with players scattered throughout the world — he had a plan.

“Obviously I couldn’t be with them, so I had to think, ‘What’s the best option?’” Goodman said this week. “I had worked with Zoom before in video conferencing and I thought I could run sessions like that... It was really organic, and it kind of made sense. I explored it, then put it into action.”

Out of that idea was born a weekly routine that kept the Hawks in shape throughout their three months of quarantine, during which many players had no access to a skating rink and limited to no access to professional-caliber exercise equipment.

Goodman held his Zoom workout sessions three days a week for about an hour at a time. The regulars usually attended two of the three. Goodman also planned out and sent workouts to other players who didn’t like or couldn’t access the live calls.

The virtual aspect of the workouts was nonetheless a difficult adjustment.

“You’re in a totally separate environment, so I felt like a fish out of water right at the get-go,” Goodman said, noting how he wasn’t able to physically correct players’ body positions like he can in the Fifth-Third Arena gym.

“But after doing a few of them over the first two weeks, I felt like, ‘Okay, I can get in my groove there.’ I can actually coach them and get them to move in patterns that I want them to move, and then correct...just by my verbal cueing.”

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Paul Goodman, seen here with the 2013 Stanley Cup, has become an integral behind-the-scenes member of the Hawks’ coaching staff.

J. Geil/Sun-Times file photo

Dylan Strome — calling in from Mississauga, Ontario — and Connor Murphy were two of the regulars.

“We were doing push-ups, sit-ups, running on the spot, high knees,” Strome said. “Pretty much anything you can think of that doesn’t involve a weight, we probably did some version of that. We had a lot of time.”

“When the days get long and you’re not allowed to do much, to have some routine and stick to that [was nice],” Murphy said. “[I was] trying to keep myself in some sort of shape.”

Not knowing how long the pandemic would last, Goodman kept his guys near game-ready throughout the spring — he wasn’t able to enact a long-term, offseason-like program.

But he still focused on a different body region or base exercise each day, and then moved on to a new unit every two weeks.

“When you have these guys with just body weight [and no equipment], just getting them to have high-quality movement without any resistance could actually aid their overall function,” Goodman said. “I focused on their quality of movement, but then each day had a different emphasis, whether it be anaerobic threshold work or lateral speed work or just strength.”

The workouts ended when Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play plan began earlier this month. Goodman is again spending his mornings physically coaching those who have returned to Chicago.

His new Zoom expertise hasn’t been discarded, though.

He’s now recording live workouts for fans, which stream Wednesdays at noon on the Hawks’ website (and can also be watched anytime), as part of the team’s Wellness Wednesdays initiative. He’s also helping with the Hawks’ OneIL Summer Running Challenge, for which fans can also register online.

Goodman said the elevation from his typically behind-the-scenes role has been challenging but rewarding, and he’s excited to provide to the fan base what he helped players with during quarantine.

“The response has been really positive with that, and I feel really good about being able to contribute back to the community in a time where staying active is really important,” he said. “The worst thing that we can do in this closed-in environment is keep ourselves sedentary.”

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