When you’re used to hurtling down hills and surviving tumbles that’d make even seasoned skiers blanch and have overcome not one but two ACL tears, your pain tolerance is a little higher than most people’s. So it is with Momentous ambassador Johnny Collinson, who along with his sister Angel is part of one of the first families of freeskiing and, as his Instagram feed demonstrates, is a straight-up beast off the snow as well.
Johnny recently sat down with Momentous marketing director Sara Hendershot (via video just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, of course) to discuss some of his strategies for coping emotionally during coronavirus self-isolation, building up his already astonishing physical capacity, and staying ready to excel at his craft once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Johnny showed us his home exercise zone, where he has built his own equipment like parallettes, which he forged out of copper pipes, 2-by-6 wooden planks, and dowels. “I also braided an old climbing rope, got a barbell, and have some weights coming,” Johnny said. “Before that, I was loading water and books in a backpack and using big resistance bands to do leg stuff. It’s been fun. Instead of being stuck in my normal programming, I’ve been using random household stuff. I have a lot of equipment, but I’ve been trying to imagine what it’s like for people who don’t and help however I can.”
And what about Johnny’s fitness goals – you know, the ones that keep him ripped and ready for anything?
“It’s maintenance right now because we don’t know what’s going to happen, but I want to be fit and strong when we get out of this, whether that’s for skiing or a hike and ski trip,” he said.
We asked Johnny if he’s cooking more at home now, and if so, what he’s rustling up in the kitchen.
“I’m cooking the same amount but trying new stuff,” Johnny said. “We’ve been starting the day with something different for breakfast. We just had more groceries delivered today as we’re trying not to go to the store.”
When it comes to nutrition, Johnny says he isn’t keto, Paleo, or vegan, but pursues a more moderate eating approach. “I don’t follow a specific program,” he said. “I’ve had blood testing done so I know what I should stay away from and what I need more of. I don’t eat a lot of carbs – bread and pasta – too often but get a lot of protein. I don’t do anything that special – it’s basically training hard and eating clean.”
As important as his physical fitness is, Johnny says that successfully coping with the COVID-19 crisis starts with his mindset.
“It’s such a crazy time for the whole world,” he told Sara. “The best I can do to manage is be appreciative of the situation I’m in. I live in a beautiful place, I have a lot of cool things going for me, and I know a lot of other people are affected in crazy ways. I’m trying to give out good energy by sharing workouts, because that’s helping me get by. It’s similar to being injured, in that I have to take things slow day by day, because I don’t know what’s coming down the line. All I can do is choose to be content in the moment.”
The North Face athlete team – which also features Johnny’s fellow Momentous ambassador Jimmy Chin – recently got on a call to share their lows and highs and encourage each other. “It was interesting because as this situation unfolded, it was hard to know what the right thing to do was,” Johnny said. “I could’ve gone hiking and skiing in a low-impact way, but there are still risks in the backcountry, like avalanches. On the call, some of the athletes based in Italy shared how crazy their days were and said, ‘You don’t want this to happen to you in the US, so stay home and chill out.’”
One of the most difficult things for any of us right now is to fill each day with something more substantial than tuning into TikTok 24/7 or watching Tiger King for the third time. So what’s Johnny’s secret?
“I’ve been going to bed and excited to get back up again,” he said. “If I have a spare second, I’ll mess around with some new exercises. I’ve actually been more productive because once I started getting stuff done, it just took off from there and time has been flying by. I find it helps to do something active early in the day. And I’ve been setting a one-hour timer for social media on my iPhone. When it goes off, this app shuts down all my social feeds and I go do something else. It’s been helping my sleep and the WHOOP Strap I use shows that my numbers are better.”
With no clear end in sight to COVID-19 social distancing, few are finding it easy to stay motivated and keep pressing on toward their goals. In Johnny’s case, this begins with normalizing his routine.
“I’d just gotten back on snow in mid-February, got a few good days in, and was supposed to be skiing through late May or early June. That got shut down, but now it’s just like a regular summer for me. Rather than going to the gym, I’m trying to recreate what I do at home.”
Studies show that when times are tough, being grateful can help you stay physically and emotionally healthy, improve your sense of efficacy, and make you more likely to achieve your aims. For Johnny, combining gratitude with positive thinking has become a potent daily practice while he’s social distancing.
“I still feel lucky,” he said. “There are still bigger things at play in the world right now. Not being able to ski is small in comparison. It’s easy to stay home and do what I’m supposed to do and I’m enjoying it. My girlfriend and I get to hang out a lot, which is great.”
You might expect Johnny to have some epic trip planned for after the coronavirus shutdown ends, but his plans are refreshingly similar to what most of us want to do when we can get back out into the world. “When the restrictions lift, I’m going to meet up with all my boys and go skiing if there’s still snow,” he said. “And me and my girlfriend will do a date night – maybe dinner and a movie.”
In closing, Sara asked Johnny if he had any parting words for the Momentous tribe. “We’ll get through this day by day,” he said. “I hope everyone’s staying sane and getting some exercise, which is helping me.”