Alex Caruso on Staying in Shape, Binge-Watching and More During Hiatus

What’s been on the mind of Alex Caruso amidst the COVID-19 hiatus?

Well, you’re about to find out!

AC Fresh dialed in from his home to share how he’s getting through the quarantine days in terms of working out, eating, entertainment and social distancing:

I do workouts at home in my garage ... it’s pretty old school. Just a bunch of body weight stuff, some jump rope, and I have a good hill by me that I run up and down.

The physical equipment I have at my house is: four NBA basketballs; a jump rope and a multitude of resistance bands. I’m considering getting some free weights, but you can get done what you need to do with dribbling a basketball and using some resistance. It’s just a different lift. Everybody knows the normal use of weights, getting on a squat rack, or grabbing dumbbells. This is the same thing but just using a band. With the basketball, just maxing out dribbles by pounding the ball with resistance and the muscles react after a whole bunch of reps. The biggest thing about now is that nobody is going to be where they were at when we stopped playing. It’s about staying as close to normal as you can.

What about mixing in push ups and sit ups?
Yeah of course, of course. It’s nothing that I create. I get a text from one of our strength coaches to go through the workout and it’s pretty simple. Body-weight lunges. Pushups. A couple sets of abs, then some type of cardio, which for me is jump rope. It’s pretty efficient, because I’m not a big running fan, which is hard to believe for a basketball player, but I just don’t love the cardio. Jump rope is more of an aerobic workout than just straight running.

I’m doing my best. The hard thing is, we have such good food at the training facility, I naturally eat very healthy at the gym. Now without that, I’m having to find more meals, either making them or ordering food. Going to the grocery store and finding things is harder right now too, with everybody wiping through there. I’m also not burning as many calories as I typically have at this time of year, so it’s a little easier to maintain – I don’t have to eat as much food. So, just staying hydrated, and staying on as much of a normal diet as possible.

It’s been a split for me in going to the grocery store, of getting pickup or delivery and cooking. Switching that up is going to get me through this period of being inside and the redundancy of daily life. One of my go-to options is True Foods – their rosemary red skin potatoes are phenomenal. And then I just buy simple groceries to get me by; I don’t have a chef like some guys on the team might. Chicken, grilled veggies, rice pilaf, mashed potatoes, stuff like that. My level of skill is average. I’m not making some bomb Italian dish or anything, but I can make food that tastes good and is edible.

When we had Caruso on the Official Lakers Podcast on March 2, he mentioned that the only thing he watched on TV aside from basketball was reruns of “The Office.” We wondered if the COVID-19 situation had him expanding horizons…

It’s funny you mention that. Yesterday, I started a re-watch of “The Office” from episode one. It was time for that. Then I have watched a few movies, and am playing X-BOX, “Call of Duty” and “FIFA,” plus some “Fortnite.” I saw “Spencer Confidential,” which was interesting, and then “Us,” the Jordan Peele movie about duplicates. That was good, with an interesting twist at the end. That was actually before the self-quarantine, so I watched it with two friends, and the one that had seen part of it must have got it confused with another movie, because she said it was not a scary movie at all. And about 30 minutes in, I was like, ‘No, this is 100 percent a thriller, scary type of movie.’ But we finished it and the ending was really good.

For the gaming, it’s always online. I’m playing season mode for FIFA, or the battle royale style for the shooting games. “Call of Duty” just came out, so it’s the crave right now. I’m getting better. I had been playing Fortnite for two years without playing any other shooting games, so I had to re-learn the controls. But the other day, I started to get a little groove. I’d like to claim I’m a little bit above average, even though I’m the humble type. I think I’m decent. I haven’t linked up with Josh (Hart) or Larry (Nance, Jr.) to play against, but I’m giving myself time for that.

Caruso is a diehard Manchester City fan, and he and the author of this post – a Manchester United loyalist – have a longstanding feud going. Caruso only plays FIFA with City, and offered his preferred lineup and style:

I play a 4-3-3 attacking style with Ederson in goal, João Cancelo at left back, (Aymeric) LaPorte and either Fernandinho or John Stones at center back, Kyle Walker on the right. Then Fernandinho above the center backs (if he’s not at center back), Kevin De Bruyne at left center attacking mid and Bernardo Silva opposite him, LeRoy Sane on the left wing, Raheem Sterling at right wing and Sergio Aguero up top. Then I have (Ilkay) Gundogan, David Silva, (Riyad) Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus off the bench. The online seasons go from Division 10 up to Division 1. You get promoted and relegated depending on how your season goes; you get 10 games and then go up or down. I’m in D1 right now, but it’s not looking good. I’m 1-2-2, and I need to win three out of my next five. Everybody is home, so I’m getting the best of the best right now!

We wondered how much Caruso was sleeping considering his relatively light daily lode of working out, eating, “The Office” and gaming:

I’m definitely sleeping in a little more. I’m not waking up quite as early I would have had to go to the gym or get to practice or shootaround. I’m probably sleeping 10 hours. Usually I’ll go to bed around midnight at the latest, and then I’ll sleep until 10 a.m.; so that’s part of the give-and-take of living by yourself. You might get lonely but you get some free time.

I watch a lot of old basketball highlights and basketball games. I’m doing this thing where I do basketball education for the last 15 minutes of my stream from my ACFresh21 account. We YouTube an older player that was really good that people don’t give enough credit to. We’ve looked up Shawn Kemp, Deron Williams and Richard Hamilton lately. So I’m playing games with fans, and when I’m about to get off, I’ll just chat it up and watch basketball highlights with people. Basically, what I’d do by myself, but I do it with other people.

I think just the rapid escalation of how serious and impactful this whole thing is, that’s what is surprising. Two weeks ago, we were talking about how it was really bad other places, not even thinking about how it could travel over to us and impact our season and get to the point we are now with a suspended season. Obviously there are a lot of emotions for different people, but for me, it’s the surprise and the emptiness of this time of the year, not playing basketball.

I’m doing a pretty good job of staying in my own space and seeing as few people as possible. I talk to my family daily, but I live by myself. There is anything but loneliness. Sure, there’s nobody here in person, but I’m pretty comfortable with that. I’ve lived by myself for the last couple of years; I think I’m naturally introverted, so this is fulfilling that side of my personality. People don’t really ask questions when I’m out running the hill or something; it’s pretty quiet. Everybody goes with it.

The more that time passes, seeing what’s going on and reading into how serious the situation is for people that aren’t in my position – 26, a professional athlete living a healthy life – it’s really alarming to see that things can get bad if we don’t do something about it. I’m trying to do my part and just make sure that I stay out of contact. Even if I – or anybody – don’t have it, it’s making sure not to get it and share it. People are not understanding that it’s serious and they don’t think it’s serious until it affects them. I think the biggest thing is for people to realize it really is a serious ordeal and we need to take a serious approach to it.

Probably the most frustrating part is how much this season meant to us as players, coaches, organization and fans. With everything that’s gone on the past several years, and obviously the Kobe situation, everybody was really looking forward to finishing out the season and getting to the playoffs. Now that it’s prolonged, it’s just frustrating. All of us on the team, our favorite thing to do is play basketball, and for that to be momentarily taken away puts things into perspective. It’s kind of an enlightening moment, just to not take it for granted. Whether you’re in your first full season like me, or 17th for LeBron.

As soon as they can get it back started they’re going to try to, and obviously safety is the highest priority. You gotta make sure everybody is healthy. But obviously, as soon as we can get basketball back, that’s what we want to do. For us as the Lakers and fans of us, they want to see us reach the ultimate goal, which is what we’ve talked about since the beginning of the year. We’re still in that mindset, it’s just on a hiatus until we get back to playing. It depends on how long we’re out of the practice facility. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to get back to the practice facility once everybody is cleared, but we’ll see what happens. Things are changing on the hour, every hour.