To us mere mortals who were not blessed with the stamina and fortitude of Olympians, athletes can appear like gods among men. How do they wake up at five in the morning to run without hating themselves? What palate hack did they crack to make them snicker in the face of a glorious cheeseburger? And how do they make it all look so easy? Well, the truth of the matter is that it’s not easy at all. Sticking to an active lifestyle actually takes tremendous discipline and work. But, spoiler alert: athletes are humans too.
They do have off-days when they’d rather stay in bed, and cheat days when they give in to fast food just to maintain their sanity.And contrary to what you might think— no, they were not born with pre-carved abs inherited from the chromosomal crossbreed between Zeus and a Sports Illustrated model. There are no trade secrets, shortcuts, or insider clubs either.The key to a healthy lifestyle is one that has been preached since time immemorial: you simply have to choose to do it.
Does it sound like it’s easier said than done? Of course. And that’s exactly why it’s a formula that works. It’s sure as hell not instantly gratifying, but saying yes and diving headfirst into your active journey is a good place to start. Take it from De La Salle University football player Jose Montelibano, competitive dancer and gym enthusiast Elena Virata, gymnast and cheerleader Nash Paz, and Ateneo de Manila University volleyball player Therese Gaston. These student athletes managed to survive and thrive in university life, maintain their fitness and health routines, and come out in one piece. So how do they choose go?
What’s a day in your life like?
Jose: I’m a morning person, so I get upearly before everyone else—around five or six in the morning—and head straight to the
gym to get a good sweat.
Elena: I also wake up early because I usuallyhave to go to class, but otherwise, I spend my mornings working out. Afterwards, I head to school, then attend dance training
from six to ten in the evening.
Nash: I’m really not a morning person at all, but I do make sure to start my days with a quick calisthenic session—just five minutes of working my arms, core, and legs. Then I usually like to end my day with an eveningrun. Outside of that, I just study all day and finish my thesis.
Therese: I’m on the volleyball team, and our training can get really crazy. But we start with meditating as a team at five thirty in the morning everyday, followed by a three or five kilometer run. I’m still a student, so my schedule sometimes still depends on my classes, but I always try to squeeze in at least five to six workouts a week—going to the gym, spinning, running, or practicing volleyball.
How important is it to maintain a healthy lifestyle, despite everything else going on in your life? Could youever be “too busy” for a workout?
People often ask me how I find the time, but the truth is, you just have to make time.
Jose: For me, fitness is my number one concern. I don’t want to grow up havingproblems with my health, especially in the future when I have a family. I don’t think you could be “too busy.” I prefer to workout precisely when I have too much going on and I need to focus. When my mind is blank during class, instead of forcing myself to
think, I step out and get a good sweat. It’s a great outlet. When I come back, I’m much more rejuvenated. I see things differently.
Elena: It’s super important for me. People often ask me how I find the time, but the truth is, you just have to make time. Eventually, it becomes a lifestyle and you start to notice that your body just feels much betterwhen you do it. That’s why I love morning workouts, because it gets me in the zone and programs me for the rest of the day. It’s like my coffee.
Nash: I work out mostly to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but I also do it for the mental benefits. I admit I used to be motivated by aesthetic reasons, but now that I’m driven by a better purpose, I just feel much happier overall. I feel good when I know that I get to take care of myself, and you can never really be “too busy” for that.
Therese: As athletes, our bodies are conditioned to need constant exercise or it just feels off. But I’ve found that living a healthy lifestyle also helps you stay goal oriented. Even just achieving small fitness goals helps me feel more in control, and that motivation is carried over to other aspects of my life, like academics.
ON NASH: ENIMAL hat, SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS shirt. ON THERESE: SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS top. ON JOSE: SEASON PASS jacket, THE NINES shorts. All NIKE EPIC REACT footwear
So how do you stay focused? Do you think that staying fit is also a mental game as much as it’s a physical one?
Jose: Definitely. In the football team, you can be the most fit player, but you can’t win the game if you aren’t locked in mentally. You need to know what you’re doing and what you’re playing for. Whether you’re at the gym or out on the field, you have to have mini goals to challenge yourself with until you hit that goal and move on to the next, then to the next, then to the next. You have to want to keep improving.
Don’t start anything without the intent to finish, or else it’s easy to say, “oh, I’m drained” and just quit.
Elena: [It’s the] same thing for me when I used to compete internationally with my dance team. Our training sessions were so rigorous and tiring—every single day [we trained] until our bodies wore out. Intention also plays a huge part in improving your perspective. Don’t start anything without the intent to finish, or else it’s easy to say, “oh, I’m drained” and just quit.
Nash: When I was a cheerleader, I tore my ACL on the week of a huge competition. Of course, I had to drop out and it felt like the end of the world. I know it might sound like I’m exaggerating, but when you build your entire life around something, you really feel lost once it’s taken away from you without warning. So because I dedicated myself to cheerleading, I thought I was useless without it. But I realized that my self-pity wasn’t helping at all, so I changed my mindset, dragged myself to physical therapy and recovered eventually. It took some time, but it was the only way. And you have to focus your mind into trusting that, even when your body tries to tell you otherwise.
Therese: Sometimes, my teammates and I wonder how the hell we were able to sweep the entire season, but we realize it’s because we train our minds just as much as our bodies. That’s why our coach would always make us meditate and do sessions with each other. It really affects our performance.
Is there a motto or philosophy you live by as an athlete?
Jose: Start strong, finish stronger.
Elena: Just go for it. If you want it, don’t
even give it a second thought.
Nash: Keep going. Take it one day at a time.
Therese: Heart strong. It’s actually our official team motto. Win or lose, in sickness and in health: heart strong.
Interview by ISABELLA ARGOSINO
Photography by KOJI ARBOLEDA
Styling by FLORIAN TRINIDAD
Hair and makeup by SYLVINA LOPEZ
Produced by PHOEBE CASIN
& CZARINA TOLEDO
JEREMY CLAUDE ROSALES
& NICCOLO YABUT