Mason AD wants you to give your brain a break

There’s a story George Mason University Athletic Director Brad Edwards likes to tell about how, during his days with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, he and some teammates would run the hill behind the Mason Field House as a workout. 

That hill is now a prop in one of Edwards’ “Brain Break” videos that explain easy ways for those of us stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic to stay in shape, both physically and mentally. 

“Well-being has been a Mason mantra as long as I’ve been here,” said Edwards, Mason’s athletic director since 2014. “It’s keeping in people’s minds that you can still be creative and keep moving, which is going to make your life healthier for a longer period of time.” 

The series of eight videos, which are being released one at a time on the Mason Athletics YouTube channel every Monday, were created to also support the partnership between Mason and OrthoVirginia. 

Subjects covered include stretching, core muscle work, strength training, and high-intensity training, none of which has to be done in a gym and all of which pitch the same message. 

 “Keep moving,” Edwards said, “and have fun.” 

Edwards also has a purpose as some of the exercises are part of his preparations for competing in the 100- and 200-meter events in USA Track and Field Master’s Series when it resumes. 

He's not the only person in Mason Athletics reaching out to the community on video. Men's basketball coach Dave Paulsen has a series called "DP's Distancing Dialogues," in whch he has in-depth X's and O's discussions with some of his coaching buddies, also on the Mason Athletics YouTube channel.

Edwards, 54, calls himself a “master at quick, fast, super-intense workouts.” When traveling, he ran the stairs in whatever hotel he was in. A favorite workout is doing five different exercises for 30 seconds each and repeating the circuit for 10 minutes. 

“I’m very fortunate that I’ve been in good health,” he said. “One, because I was lucky as an athlete, and, two, because I never cut corners in nutrition, in stretching, in weightlifting and training. I was always committed to doing those things the right way, and it’s really paid off.” 

But back to that hill at Mason. 

Edwards, a Redskins defensive back from 1990-93, said he and teammate Darrell Green, a Hall of Fame cornerback who is now a Mason associate athletic director, used to run the hill after minicamp workouts at what was then the Redskins’ Reston, Virginia, training facility. 

At times they were joined by teammates such as wide receivers Gary Clark, Art Monk and Ricky Sanders. 

“They started on the track and I was, like, ‘Okay, I’m going to show these Redskins guys how to really work hard,’ ” Edwards said. “They started this routine on the track and, oh, my goodness, that would have been a major workout for 90% percent of the guys in the NFL. And then we ran 40 or 50 hills on top of that.” 

Edwards, a nine-year NFL veteran who picked off two passes and was MVP runner-up in Washington’s 37-24 victory over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVI, still runs that hill, and he shows us in one of his “Brain Break” videos. 

“I feel very fortunate to be able to do it and feel this good in my mid 50s,” he said. “It’s all because I kept moving and watched my diet. I want to encourage people to do the same.”