By Zach Cavanagh
When the pandemic began, the ensuing shutdowns threw plenty of wrenches at coaches, student-athletes, physical education instructors and all young athletes.
All competitions, practices and youth leagues were canceled. Classes were sent home. Gyms were closed. Coaches and their athletes of all ages had plenty of barriers put up to organized and instructive health and fitness.
Eventually, coaches for high school and club programs found their bearings, mostly in online instruction or video call sessions. That’s when San Juan Hills High School boys basketball coach Jason Efstathiou and his coaching partners at the JSK Basketball club were struck with an idea.
“What if we just had our own workout program for these guys to get training in?” Efstathiou said. “It’ll be safe. We won’t be able to meet up, but we’ll be able to follow along. COVID might keep us locked up for a long time, and we thought we could do this for our athletes.”
The idea became Jump Hi, an online fitness and sports program geared toward children from ages 4-17. Efstathiou described it as Peloton or the Mirror with online workout videos for young athletes.
Workouts are livestreamed around the time in the afternoon when school athletic periods would be scheduled during the week to integrate the program with schools. Workouts are all offered on demand after streaming and included speed, agility, core, plyometric and strength workouts. There are six to 10 livestreams a week and around 65 on-demand videos, with more than 100 expected by December.
Videos and the entire program are available online at jumphi.co, and the program can be used on any device. An app for the program is in development and should be ready in January.
“We’re doing this for the purpose of, not offering a replacement necessarily, but just as something you can also do in addition,” Efstathiou said. “Trying to hit people who are still nervous about in-person.”
For Efstathiou and his basketball coach partners, Mater Dei boys basketball assistant coach Shu Isagawa and Director of Fitness Jordan DeMario, they’ve helped cultivate the first sport-specific elements of the service, with basketball drills and workouts available. More sport-specific workouts are coming in the pipeline, with soccer being the next up.
Currently, the Jump Hi program is being offered free to all schools, as Efstathiou wants to encourage health and fitness in a time when that could be lost in a sedentary lifestyle working and schooling from home.
“We want to offer it free to schools and give everyone an opportunity to get work in,” Efstathiou said. “We want everyone to have access to work out and do fitness. I think it’s important to promote education and health. For those kids at home, they can do a 10-15 minute workout instead of that time on video games or TV, and that appeals to the parents.”
Efstathiou knows the importance of keeping up with health and fitness when being sidelined. Efstathiou battles a rare form of neuropathy, which attacks the nerves with a hypersensitivity and burning sensation. The disease kept him off the San Juan Hills basketball court last year from May to late December.
“There’s always the whole until you lose something, you don’t recognize it as much,” Efstathiou said. “I hadn’t been able to work out for a long time. Things like walking or working out had become difficult for me. With my body and my health, I want to have something else we can go to. And having a program like this made me think of kids like that, too.”
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at [email protected].