Latvian pole-vaulter Pauls Pujats is one of an increasing number of athletes who have benefited from Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb’s new Online Experiences platform, which enables Olympians and Paralympians to turn their passions into profitable businesses that fit perfectly around their training schedules. Here, he tells Olympic.org how he is sharing the benefits of yoga with people all over the world while still preparing for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Pauls Pujats is a firm believer in the power of non-traditional therapies. The Latvian pole-vaulter, who competed at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, has found that practices such as yoga, meditation and trigger-point therapy can boost his recovery from training and competition, and even help in his rehabilitation from injuries.
“Without those, I wouldn’t be able to properly recover my body and actually train on the full force and full capacity as I am now,” he explains. “Trigger-point therapy is highly important because when our muscles are blocked it creates a knot, or a bundle of knots, and we need to open them up. A lot of times massage helps, but with the trigger-point therapy, they work immediately. And the yoga, when you switch it in, is just a perfect combination.”
Now, the 28-year-old has been given the opportunity to share his passion and expertise for these practices with a wider audience thanks to Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb, which has launched a platform offering Olympians and Paralympians the chance to host Online & in person Experiences for members of the public.
“My life mission is to help other people and, honestly, this is the best way that I can give back and I really enjoy it,” he says. “It really gives me such satisfaction just to see the gratitude from people, the relief from people, when they've been struggling for years with some kind of issue and just one session can help them actually alleviate that pain.”
In collaboration with the International Olympic Committee, the new platform enables athletes to supplement their income by offering virtual workouts, mentoring sessions and other activities that fit around their busy lives. Pujats has used the platform to offer a range of online Experiences, including yoga sessions, trigger-point therapy and fitness classes.
“I first heard about the project on Instagram,” explains Pujats. “My ambition has always been to offer these sessions and, when I saw the post, I realised that this was my perfect opportunity to make it happen. The flexibility my Airbnb Experience gives me was the reason I signed up. I can choose when to run the sessions and this is a great balance for me with the rest of my life.”
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Earn extra income around your training regime. 🙌 With the help of @airbnb and Athlete365, @paulspujats created a successful Airbnb Online Experience that fits perfectly around his @tokyo2020 training. He's pursuing both his passions. You should too. Find out how you can become an @airbnbexperiences host. LINK IN BIO. 👆
Pujats, who holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from the University of Memphis, as well as being a qualified yoga instructor, began running his Experiences in-person before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and is grateful that he has been able to continue hosting the sessions online.
“I would be with the people and do the Experiences in-person, but since the lockdown, since COVID-19 happened, everything just shut down,” he says. “Airbnb was amazing; it adapted straight away and launched Online Experiences. Honestly, it’s better than ever, because now I can reach the entire world.
After finishing 12th in the pole vault final at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Pujats is eager to compete on the Olympic stage again in Tokyo next year, but he still has one eye on his life beyond sport, and his Airbnb Online Experiences have given him a glimpse at what his new career could look like when he retires from competition.
“My focus is to compete in Tokyo and obviously give the best that I have, but right now, what I’m doing on the side with Airbnb and the IOC, I think it’s an amazing opportunity and this is something that I’m looking forward to doing in the future, maybe full-time,” he says. “I can’t do too many Airbnb Experience sessions during the week because I’ve still got a lot of energy that’s going out in training, and I have to be very conservative about that. But in the future, I should be able to give more and more to the Airbnb Experiences, which is exciting.
“Life, in general, is not long, and an athlete's career is even shorter. That's why you need to be prepared, you need to know what exactly it is that you want to do later on and, honestly, what I'm doing right now is the ideal thing. I can see myself continuing doing this and it is just going to get better and better with time and is the ideal way that I can give back; it’s amazing.”
AIRBNB OLYMPIAN & PARALYMPIAN EXPERIENCES
With communities around the world staying home to protect their own health and the health of others, Airbnb Online Experiences provide a new way for users to enjoy unique activities – such as workouts and mentoring sessions led by Olympians and Paralympians virtually – and for athlete hosts to share their passion, connect with fans and earn income during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, 54 Olympic & Paralympic Experiences have been published on the platform with a total of 2750 guests from over 27 dozen different countries.
WANT TO CONNECT WITH OTHER OLYMPIANS VIRTUALLY?
Explore all of the Airbnb Online Experiences hosted by Olympians & Paralympians here. Or are you an Olympian or a Paralympian interested in hosting your own experience? Let us help you get started here!