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How the Chicago Fire’s Fabian Herbers is exercising his body—and his brain—during the MLS hiatus

Herbers chats with Hot Time in Old Town about how he’s using his time to improve himself

Fabian Herbers of the Fire
Chicago Fire FC

Fabian Herbers played all but about 10 minutes for the Chicago Fire this season before the COVID-19 league suspension began. Now, he’s gone from the excitement of pro soccer, to spending most of his time alone in his Chicago apartment.

But, Herbers isn’t wasting this time. He’s got his workout routine, he’s still talking to family and teammates, and the German is actually busy working on a master’s degree in applied economics.

The following transcript of our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Patrick McCraney: How has your time been away from soccer? We’re now more than a month since the last match.

Fabian Herbers: It was tough at the beginning, because it’s something you weren’t really used to, just staying at home, possibly not leaving your apartment, just for groceries and stuff like that. The transition was hard, now that we’re a month in, but I’ve kind of got my routine. Found my way through it, and I’m just trying to keep that routine up. Just trying to have the same day, every day, to not go crazy, to not be super unproductive.

PM: I just talked to Jonathan Bornstein, who is busy with his kids and his family. But you live alone. Is it harder being all by yourself?

FH: Some might call it harder, some might call it easier if you don’t have the kids running around all day. I’m used to living alone, so that’s not a big issue for me. I call my parents, probably on a daily basis, ask how things are in Germany. Old friends from college, old teammates that I’ve had, and ask them how they’re dealing with things. I’m still in contact with people [from the Fire]. We have meetings with players, with coaches, so it’s not like super lonely or anything like that. It was tough at the beginning, but I’ve gotten used to it, slowly but surely.

PM: I know the team just had a virtual team yoga session. How else are you trying to stay fit?

FH: I have my routine. We get the workout schedule from Ben [Donachie], our performance coach, and I usually go for a run around 3 p.m. every day. Sometimes it’s hard because it’s interval runs, and you have to have a specific watch with it to run a certain amount of meters in a certain amount of time. We got some equipment, as well. They brought us some dumbbells, and some mini-bands to do exercises in our apartments usually before the run. So, I do that once a day, and that will keep me up to date. But, it’s still different than being on the field and having all those movements with the balls, but it’s as best that I can, right now.

PM: It’s got to be difficult, because you can’t really replicate soccer.

FH: Yeah, I think we’re gonna need another small preseason before we can get started again. But, for me, this is what I do to stay in shape the best that I can.

PM: Any new hobbies, or anything else you’ve picked up to fill your time?

FH: I tried to get more into cooking, but then we got these prepped meals from Eat Clean Chicago, so that avoided me from cooking because I don’t want to waste all the prepped meals that we get. They’re actually pretty tasty! I also keep myself busy during the day doing a master’s at Southern New Hampshire University in applied economics, so that will keep me busy a good chunk of the day as well. I enjoy it to keep the brain busy a little bit, and to have that option as well.

PM: Is it a lot of work?

FH: Yeah, I have to read a lot for that, stay busy, write papers. I’ve done it since January, but it just started back up again, so I’m happy about that.

PM: Isn’t Micheal Azira doing the same thing?

FH: Yeah, he’s doing a master’s as well. I think he’s in a different program. I think he’s doing sports management. But he’s a little bit more advanced. He started a little bit sooner.

PM: Good luck with your studies, and staying fit, and hopefully I’ll be out there seeing you soon.

FH: We all hope so!