Summit County fitness experts help those at home get creative during coronavirus shutdown


For many people around Summit County, the past week has felt about as long as a month since ski resorts shut down last Saturday. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, locals have been encouraged to stay home to promote social distancing measures to mitigate the spread of the virus in the transient tourist communities.

The stark change for Summit County’s active community, including the closure of popular town recreation centers in Breckenridge and Silverthorne, has led individuals in our ski town to reassess how they can stay active. When it became apparent earlier this week that typical fitness routines across the county were being disrupted, Breckenridge-based fitness professional Linzee Vito considered what she could do to help.

“Being in an active community, I think that people initially didn’t know what to do and kind of panicked,” Vito said, “So I thought it was a great way to show people that your health and your wellness is very important especially in a time like this. Number one: so you don’t get sick in a time like this. But also for your sanity.  And so I started coming up with different things you can do at your house.”

Over the past week Vito — who runs Howard Head Performance’s Summit County location and trains at the Breckenridge and Silverthorne Recreation Center — has taken a different approach to her virtual training. Rather than just working one-on-one with clients who may be seasonal Summit County residents or on the road, Vito has been posting home workout videos on her social media free for quarantined viewers to watch and try.

On Tuesday, Vito asked the followers of her @LinzeeVitoFitness Instagram channel “who’s up for a stay-at-home challenge?” It’s one of several posts Vito has shared to her Instagram this week to encourage people to stay active. The social media posts have been as simple as Vito’s third stay-at-home challenge this week, where she asked Instagram scrollers to “#ShowMeYourPlank,” sending her videos of how long they can hold a plank.

Then there were other workouts this week that were a bit more challenging including the “Louie’s Birthday Workout,” in honor of Vito’s older brother and snowboarding legend and Dew Tour halfpipe champion Louie Vito.

That workout consisted of three rounds of 20 repetitions each of the following exercises people could easily do in their homes: stair jumps (jump up one step, and step down), jumping jacks, pogo hops (arms above your head and soft knees jumping as high as you can without stopping), mountain climbers (start in a plank positing driving one knee toward your chest at a time, (squat jumps (start in a squatting position and jump up and down landing back in the squat position each time) and stationary lunges with each leg (take a step forward bending the front leg and having the back leg knee about two inches from the ground).

Looking ahead to next week, Vito plans to take the free at-home virtual workouts to the next level with live, interactive video classes on her Instagram or potentially another video-conferencing platform, like Zoom, broadcast from her home in Breckenridge.

“It’ll give you a chance to ask questions during the classes,” Vito said, “and have somebody responding to you.”

Even if you can’t join her for her classes, Vito encourages Summit County folk to get creative in how they stay active during social distancing and self isolation — even if that means using a gallon-water jug as a weight. Summit High School football head coach James Wagner also mentioned the water jug as a way to make a homemade weight if you don’t have any at home. In terms of creativity, Wagner highly recommends what he calls the “Deck of Cards Workout.”

Just take a deck of cards, shuffle the deck, and pick a card off the top. If it’s a 5, that means 5 repetitions of the workout of your choice, say, sit-ups or push-ups. If it’s a Jack, that’d be 11 reps, and so on and so forth up to a King at 13 repetitions.

“And you can do it with partner as well and create some competition,” Wagner said. “That’s always a fun one. It keeps it easy, fun and there’s an element of surprise as well.”

While home this week, Wagner’s fellow Summit High coach Karl Barth said he and his family have used the time together to do family yoga each morning, trying out new videos they come across on YouTube.

For Summit County’s avid ski and snowboarding community, yoga is a great way to keep your body — specifically your legs and core — in shape at home. Breckenridge local and accomplished ski mountaineer Nikki LaRochelle knows more about training specific to skiing than most anyone.

For years, LaRochelle has led a strength & conditioning class for Breckenridge Ski Resort ski patrol at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. With ski shape in mind, LaRochelle recommends getting creative at home, using a gallon of milk or even a small child or pet to do squats. LaRochelle also recommends wall sits, alternating lunges or jumping alternating lunges (what she dubs “tele jumps”), planks and glute bridges.

 Nikki LaRochelle’s Stay-At-Home Circuit Exercise

Here’s a sample circuit someone could do in their home. This circuit includes five exercises one could do for 30 seconds — one minute, depending on the level of difficulty desired.

1. SQUATS — these can be done with no weight or you can hold a dumbbell, medicine ball or heavy object (gallon of milk, small child, pet) out in front of you. Try switching up the speed from fast to very slow, even holding the squat position at the very bottom and trying small movements up and down (or pulses) in that lowest position.

2. WALL SIT — this is great to do right after the squats to double up on the work of the quadriceps. Place your back against the wall and scoot down so your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle. Hold this position with your hands on the wall or like with the squat, holding a weighted object out in front of you.

3. ALTERNATING LUNGES OR JUMPING ALTERNATING LUNGES (TELE JUMPS) — assume a lunge position and either step or jump into a lunge position with the alternate leg in front. You can make these very difficult by jumping quickly back and forth, or make it a little easier by stepping back and forth into the two lunge positions at a speed you prefer.

4. PLANK — it’s nice to go into an isometric position after something really demanding cardiovascularly like the alternating lunges. Assume a plank pose. One good way to make this harder is by lifting up one foot for 10 seconds and then the other. Or, you can come down on your forearms one at a time and back up onto your hands — that’s much harder than it looks!

5. GLUTE BRIDGE — lay on your back, bend your knees and scoot them closer to your glutes. Lift your pelvis and lower body by standing up on your feet. Think about lifting the anterior pelvis as high as you can by engaging your glutes. Holding this position is great. You can also go up and down slowly, or try it on one leg and then the other. This is particularly good for runners who struggle to activate the glutes.

With any of these exercises, you can search for videos or images online to help make sense of them with a visual reference. Happy home exercising!

Vito, Wagner and LaRochelle all agree staying as active as possible right now despite the shutdown is crucial to being where you want to be when it’s passed. That’s precisely the message Wagner is sending to his football players with training camp five months away.

“I understand your resources may be limited, but the most important thing right now is to keep moving,” Wagner said. “Don’t just sit around and lose everything you’ve been working for. That’s the worst thing that you can do.”

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