This isn’t your average exercise blog.

This one tells the story of how the PTA at the International School of Lausanne encouraged 119 parents, students, staff and alumni to exercise through 23 countries during a global pandemic.

It tells the story of how one young student, Cecily Eastwood inspired us to raise CHF2150 for children in Zambia.

It tells a truly international story of what can be achieved when a community comes together.

Cecily Eastwood

#1 Have a target

Fitness and goals go together like Switzerland and chocolate. If you want to get the most out of your workout, you need a target!

We planned to exercise our way along a virtual route from the Olympic Capital, Lausanne (where our school is based) to Tokyo to celebrate this year’s postponed 2020 Olympic Games.

Using My Virtual Mission, we set our challenge: we had 17,223km to travel in 31 days.

#2 Join a team

So we might not have been able to do those spin or aerobics classes with friends recently but by creating Team ISL we could get all the benefits of team exercise even if we were training on our own.

By working together, Team ISL encouraged all members of our community to come together to complete the distance. 

Alumni joined us from around the globe including Denmark, Japan and the UK. 

Students got involved and we were delighted when one of our homerooms started logging their distances whilst others asked their parents to add kilometres after sessions in the pool or on the soccer pitch.

Creux du Van hike

Staff joined in with our Head of Physical and Health Education logging his daily steps, our Director and his family winning gold for kilometres exercised and our Middle School Principal successfully challenging himself to exercise 200km during May and raising lots of sponsorship along the way. 

Parents made up the majority of our team with individuals cycling, running, swimming in Lac Leman, walking (either with or without dogs), hopping on a running machine, cross trainers and exercise bikes, gardening and taking time at the end of a busy day for yoga sessions.

#3 Stay motivated

Who can deny that if you feel more connected when training in a group you are more likely to stick at it? 

Team ISL motivated each other; we stayed connected via photos of beautiful views and sunsets over Copenhagen and supported each other on the My Virtual Mission app with encouraging comments to get out there whatever the weather.

Our school mascot, Wolfie, was there to cheer us on as we passed various ‘waypoints’ along the route including the Alps, Venice, the Taj Mahal and Mount Fuji. He’d often pop into our emails with an encouraging word and a reminder of why we were doing this. 

Alumni got involved too and sent welcome messages, photos and stories of their new lives as we passed by Dubai and Tokyo.

A soaked David Harrison

#4 Think of the bigger picture

By taking part in this challenge we were supporting Cecily’s Fund so with every kilometre exercised, step walked and every swim in the lake completed we knew we were making a difference.

Our school has been a long supporter of Cecily’s Fund after two of our teacher’s met Cecily whilst teaching in Athens. Tragically, Cecily was killed whilst helping orphans in Zambia during her gap year but her family and friends set up a charity to continue to support the work that she was so passionate about.

By spreading the word we were more inclined to keep going. Some of us collected sponsorship from colleagues, others rang family overseas to tell them about the challenge we had planned.

We set up and shared a Go Fund Me page which gave us additional motivation to continue exercising especially during those long dry distances from Jordan to Kuwait or all the way from Bhutan, across China to South Korea!

#5 Repeat

We all know that regular exercise can improve the quality of your life in so many ways even during the coldest Swiss Spring in 30 years! 

I loved the community aspect of this challenge; congratulating teachers who had exercised their way home on a wet Friday night, hearing how students had been up for hours before me and had already completed a session in the pool, seeing that friends had done their Sunday morning run and were ready to spend the day with the kids and hearing about alumni in Denmark walking with family through pretty meadows.

This challenge was about more than exercise, yes,  it released endorphins but that sense of community also gave our moods a boost and who doesn’t need that right now?

We smashed this challenge five days ahead of schedule and we’re looking forward to getting the team back together next year to go further, to get more of our community involved and to raise more money for Cecily’s Fund.


Mary Thain

PTA Secretary

Tokyo welcome