Andri Ragettli: working out under lockdown
Andri Ragettli, the Swiss freestyle skiing phenomenon, is almost more famous for his crazy parkour workout videos than for his World Cup wins. Now he has devised a 'stay at home' parkour workout for people under lockdown.
The canton of Graubünden must be one of the best places in Switzerland to experience the great outdoors. Andri Ragettli grew up here in Flims, a town of 2,600 people, which is 1,081 metres above sea level and offers almost as many options for exploring nature. He learned to ski at the nearby Laax ski resort which boasts 220 kilometres of slopes. But the 21-year-old freestyle ski champion has now made a name for himself in a very different setting: the confines of his own home.
Ragettli has posted a video of himself online performing various acrobatic feats using kitchen furniture, trampolines, chairs and window sills. In doing so, he has joined the ranks of footballers filming themselves juggling toilet rolls, and other people finding creative responses to the lockdown, such as teleworking, inviting friends for virtual drinks, and keeping fit in their living rooms. He completes his workout by doing a somersault and disinfecting his hands with sanitiser.
The message is clear: stay home and you can still have fun. "I think this time which, of course, has significantly changed all our lives, calls for creativity," says Ragettli. "We can use the time to try new things while helping to slow the spread of COVID-19." And Regletti is putting his money where his mouth is, having pledged 1 centime towards fighting the virus ("I haven't yet told my sponsors") for each 'like' he receives on social networking platforms. And he has managed to garner more 'likes' than almost anyone else in Swiss sport.
Turning into a global icon
Andri Ragettli is best known as a skiing prodigy, who has been performing spectacular stunts at tournaments since the age of 10. He made his debut at the World Cup two days after his 15th birthday and won his first slopestyle crystal globe two years later, performing a series of moves that had never been done before. All he needs now is an Olympic medal to add to his collection. But Regettli also rapidly realised that to achieve his stated goal of becoming a 'sports legend', shining on the ski slopes was not enough. He needed to reach a global audience and so set his sights on becoming an internet sensation.
It all kicked off in 2016 when he posted a 'workout' video of himself performing a series of balancing exercises and jumps. "We did this cool parkour routine at school which we filmed and I ended up putting online," says Regettli. "And it went viral." The short clip racked up over 40 million views, helped by its appearance on a number of prominent Facebook pages.
In 2017 he released a second video in advance of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which was also a huge success, generating 80 million views and interviews across the world. A later stunt, with Regettli deliberately sporting the Real Madrid jersey, catapulted him to fame. "Yes, this was all part of the plan," he now admits.
Before undertaking his 'stay at home' parkour project, he designed a couple more workouts with increasing levels of difficulty. Each workout delivered the 'wow' factor and achieved online success.
I think these videos have helped build my brand and raise my profile generally in the world of sport. Stan Wawrinka shared my video this time, generating responses from Novak Djokovic, Bastian Baker and many others. That kind of exposure is extremely helpful for athletes in my sport, which receives relatively little television coverage.
A great workout
Some people may have been confused initially as to whether Andri Ragettli's parkour sessions were part of his training. While not downplaying his sporting prowess in any way, he now makes no secret of the fact that the videos are a marketing move. He claims he is "not afraid of injury", as he is keenly aware of his limitations and the risk factors for injuries. Yet merely performing these exercises, which sometimes last several minutes, requires serious and determined effort.
It took 30 goes to perfect his 'home parkour' workout, which is "highly improvisational and easier than other workouts." Over 100 attempts are needed for other workouts.
It usually takes a day to shoot a workout. After the fourth parkour session, which was really complicated, I was done in, but it was still a great workout.