Interview with Nicola Spirig | KPMG | CH

“Sport and everyday business activities have a lot in common”

Interview with Nicola Spirig

In an interview, Olympic gold medalist Nicola Spirig shares motivational tips for “couch potatoes” and talks about the parallels between sport and everyday business.

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Nicola Spirig

Nicola Spirig, Olympic gold medalist

You’re no stranger to success. What would you consider to be your career’s crowning achievement thus far?

I think most athletes would agree that qualifying for the Olympic Games is the ultimate accomplishment. The same holds true for triathletes. Becoming an Olympic gold medalist in London in 2012 and then, four years later under extremely difficult conditions, earning silver in Rio, making that my second Olympic medal, those have undoubtedly been the highlights of my career.

What are your next goals?

My husband and I are expecting our second child at the end of May and are extremely excited. That’s why 2017 is really an interim year in terms of my athletic activities. We’ll be busy reorganizing our family and I’ll only start participating in competitions again in the fall. Until then, I’ll be giving my body a chance to recuperate and looking forward to competing again toward the end of the year.

What prompted you to take over as patron of the KPMG exercise initiative?

I think it’s great when a company like KPMG launches an exercise initiative for its staff. Personally speaking, I’ve learned a lot through sports and am positive that sports are capable of helping most people. Some examples of this include how to set and pursue a long-term goal, getting motivated after setbacks and solving problems. Many of these skills are just as important in sports as they are in everyday business activities or at home within the family. More than anything, though, sports make me feel great and boost my self-confidence. They keep me healthy and help me cope with day-to-day stress. That’s how physical activities, regardless of their intensity, can have a huge impact. Plus you can meet new people and exercise promotes both teamwork and new ideas within the company. Those are some of the reasons why I’m more than happy to act as the initiative’s patron and hope that I can help get everybody even more motivated!

If busy advisors engage in sports to counteract stress at work – how do you unwind from professional sports?

I advise! But seriously, what I enjoy most is spending time with my family. My little boy is pretty good at taking my mind off things quickly, and I’m sure I’ll be able to say the same of our second child fairly soon. Professional sports also involve sponsorship activities, TV appearances, photo shoots, events, and much more. Those commitments are exciting and offer a change of pace. What’s more, my husband and I want to give something back to society so we organize our own nationwide children’s triathlon event, called the Nicola Spirig Kids Cup, to show kids that sports can be fun. Through my foundation, the Nicola Spirig Foundation, I also try to help children learn how to use sports as a way of taking more control of their lives. All of these activities alongside training and competitions mean that I definitely have more than enough variety in my life. Something else that helped me strike a balance for quite a while was the work leading up to my law degree which I earned in 2010.

Being a triathlete means that you engage in no less than three athletic disciplines at the highest possible level. Personally, where do you feel most at ease? On a bike, in your running shoes or in the water?

I chose triathlons because I love variety and think it’s really fascinating to have three very different disciplines united into one type of sport. That means I feel perfectly at ease in all three. My biggest strengths lie in running and biking, however, and I think that I’ll mainly stick with running once I’ve wrapped up my career. That’s something you can do anywhere you happen to be – just walk out of the house and start running, pretty soon you’ve finished up a good training session.

Before we go, what three motivational tips would you like to share with the “couch potatoes” among us?

  1. If possible, arrange to meet up with colleagues to do sports together. It’s more fun in a group plus convincing yourself to actually exercise is much easier if you have a fixed time scheduled and know that other people are also joining you.
  2. Pick the sport you enjoy most. How you move isn’t all that important, what matters is that you actually move! Schedule fixed days and times for training that you can really stick to on a regular basis.
  3. Keep it diverse! When running, for example, you can vary your speed to make your training both efficient and interesting: For beginners that means run for one minute, then walk for one minute. More advanced runners can do a pyramid: a 15-second sprint followed by 15 seconds at a more leisurely pace. Then repeat it all with 30, 60 and 90-second intervals, then back down to 15 seconds. 

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