We asked students Thomas Carrier Guillomet and Gladys Sung to share some top tips and routines to help you shake off the 2020 blues and be fit for 2021. If you are studying with us remotely, these can all be done at home!
Let’s be real. With lockdowns and social distancing measures, 2020 hasn’t been the best year for us to reach our fitness goals. When gyms and sports facilities closed, some of us resorted to doing indoor workouts or an occasional yoga session, while the rest of us just binge-watched Netflix all day long.
Don’t worry, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional TV binge, as long as we also keep up our health and fitness. It’s 2021. It’s a new year. Let’s start it off with positivity, motivation and new fitness goals.
What does it mean to be fit? Nowadays there are so many tools to measure and track fitness: BMI indexes, Apple watches, weight loss apps and diet plans – it can all get a little crazy. Fitness influencers are popping up left and right, while our social media feeds are bombarded with weight loss ads, drowning us in information.
Of course, some of these things can be good for motivation; but motivation fundamentally starts with your own mindset. Set goals, stay positive, stay consistent, and any progress towards your goals should be considered a win. Physical fitness shouldn’t be measured through numbers on a scale or the ability to perform a certain number of push-ups. For us, fitness is a lifestyle. It’s the continual process of improving your mental and physical health, body, and wellness.
So, without further ado, here are five things we do to stay fit, which you can also try if you want:
1. Have a healthy breakfast to boost your energy
I have been the creator and designer of hundreds of omelets in my lifetime. I am not much of a chef myself, but you don’t need to be Gordon Ramsey to perfect the omelet! My ideal omelet has potatoes, mushrooms, bacon or ham, different cheeses (brie or mozzarella), and a pinch of spinach leaves. Omelets and eggs are so customizable, try to get experimental next time you go to the supermarket! I love to accompany my breakfast with an ice-cold glass of fresh orange juice.
I don’t know about Thomas, but I am a huge Matcha lover. Matcha is rich in catechins, a class of plant compounds in tea that act as natural antioxidants. It is also said to boost brain function and prevent cancer. I’m not sure how much of that is true, but I know starting the day with a warm matcha latte makes me feel so energized! Next, I will make a bowl of oats with flax seeds, chia seeds, frozen berries and soy milk. Whatever foods you choose, a breakfast filled with protein, healthy carbohydrates and vitamins will definitely kickstart your day on the right foot!
Mushroom, ham and cheese omelet and Matcha
2) No gym? Workout Indoors
All women want it: a toned, sculpted, defined butt and that line down the middle of your abs. How can you achieve it? Squats and planks. This may sound really basic, but trust me, these are the simplest and most efficient moves to achieve a strong core and backside. Plus, the planks will conveniently tone your upper body. For this all you need is your beautiful body and the floor. Working out does not always require fancy equipment!
Let’s start with squats. As easy as this sounds, having good form should come before anything else. When you are squatting remember to point your knees towards the same direction as your toes, keep your back straight, and abs engaged. Incorrect form can cause injuries! These are three squat variations that will seriously work your glutes (see my photos below as a guide):
- The Basic Squat (x20)
- Feet slightly wider than hip-width
- The Sumo Squat (x20)
- Feet wider than the basic squat, with toes pointed out at 45 degrees. Then sink your hips down!
- The Narrow Stance Squat (x20)
- Feet around shoulder width apart or even narrower.
Now repeat all of this if you still have energy!
1) Basic squat 2) Sumo squat 3) Narrow stance squat
Next, the plank, which in my opinion is the best way to strengthen the core without doing complex exercises. When you are doing them remember to contract your abs and keep your back as straight as possible, don’t stick your butt into the air. Try to hold it for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. It can be tough at first but if you spend just 5 minutes doing this every other day, I guarantee that you will see huge progress! In no time, you will be able to move onto other variations. Why not do a plank before bed instead of scrolling through Instagram?
Demonstrating the plank
In the past year, we’ve all faced obstacles to our typical fitness routines, but don’t give up! Since we have no gym weights for lifting in lockdown, you can improvise by filling up your backpack with your laptop, books and any other heavy items you can find in your room. Use this as a weight to do the following exercises (try using gloves if the grip is uncomfortable).
Curls (bicep exercise)
Skull crushers (triceps exercise)
One of the best upper body exercises is the good ol’ push-up!
The “classic” push-up
The push-up variation (can be done on a bench, counter…)
3. Outdoor Activities/Awesomeness
Outdoor activities are another great way to burn calories while having a blast AND creating incredible memories. These activities are a huge part of my life and well-being. There are so many things you can do around Les Roches! Here are some winter activity ideas for individuals living in the Swiss Alps, but if you’re at home see what you can find that’s equivalent in your area:
- Ice skate
- Hike with snowshoes, which can be rented – so many beautiful trails from Crans-Montana!
- Snow Kite
- Sledding with friends
- Picnic with a view
Unlike Thomas, I grew up in Shanghai, not the best place to learn skiing or kiteboarding! But here at Les Roches, I have been able to go on beautiful hikes and long walks organized by the school. All transport is arranged for us and every trip is guided by our amazing sports coordinator, Tom! One of my highlights this semester was hiking up to the second longest suspension in the world – the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge. Switzerland offers incredible views; even the views from our campus leave me speechless.
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge
4. Surround yourself with a strong social circle
Having a healthy social circle and solid relationships is what keeps me going every day! Amidst our busy schedules, it is important to spare time and make effort to nurture personal relationships. Not only will it provide support during tough times, it will bring positivity to your life. At Les Roches we are such a tight-knit community, which has made it easier to form good friendships. Perhaps it’s because we share such a unique experience of living in a mountain in the heart of the Swiss Alps. It is truly like no other.
Finding the right people to spend your time with can be challenging – even more so during a pandemic. Try reaching out to someone in your class that you don’t know too well, you might have some things in common! Once you establish some good friendships, try to go out and explore Switzerland together as much as possible. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful country, and public transport allows us to discover it for reasonable prices (obviously there is no such thing as reasonable prices around here, but good memories with friends are priceless). Stay strongly connected to your loved ones back home, no matter the time difference. 2021 will be better than 2020, as long as we stay united and support each other.
5. Rest up
No matter what you’re doing, rest is essential to consolidate the hard work you’ve been doing. Rest not only allows our muscles to recover, adapt and become stronger, but also gives our nervous system a chance to regenerate.
It’s okay to do the occasional Netflix binge in bed. It’s okay to take a day off studying. As much as it is important to stay motivated and physically active, it is crucial to listen to your body. For those of us who live active lifestyles, we often get so caught up in our daily fitness routines and packed schedules that we forget to take a minute to check-in with ourselves. Sometimes our bodies ask for more sleep or simply a break from our regular schedule, so honor your body by taking a break! Rest, restore, and you will come back stronger than before.
We hope that this blog brings you positivity, a new mindset and inspiration for 2021! These five tips are a starting point for you to explore what fitness means to you. At the end of the day, you know yourself best and when you discover something that feels right for you, incorporate it into your schedule until ‘being fit’ just becomes another habit in your life.