The benefits of preparing yourself physically for your ski holiday are obvious – it’s not a cheap sport after all and if nothing else we all like to get value for money. So how best to go about becoming ski fit?
It’s always best to have a chat with your GP before making any major lifestyle change, and particularly important if you don’t exercise regularly.
Consider seeking professional advice from a personal trainer or qualified coach. Sports science has long ago dumped the ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ attitude I was subjected to in my school PE lessons, and sports professionals these days are keen to show you how to make training fun & injury free. You will need to start work at least 6-8 weeks before your holiday as your body will require this amount of time to adapt to the demands being made on it.
- Ski-ing is generally categorised as an Anaerobic sport (Look it up if you don’t know what that means! The new you starts here!)
- But bear in mind it’s very worthwhile doing some Cardiovascular conditioning to counter the effects of being at altitude.
- Improving on your Flexibility will help prevent injuries, even the most basic stretch programme can work wonders in this area.
- Last but by no means least, talented skiers have fast feet, so Co-ordination & Agility will need honing!
Phew! Sounds a tall order doesn’t it, how are you supposed to fit it all in? It’s easier than you think as many sports will kill at least two birds with one stone if approached with some thought and planning. Here are some off snow training methods popular with ski instructors:
Cycling is a great preparatory exercise for skiers. It’s a great way to strengthen the legs without risking impact injuries (mountain biking not included). And it also gives the heart a great work out. If you don’t think you can face the great outdoors in miserable weather, check out your local gym for indoor cycling classes. These will help turn what’s possibly a chore into something social and fun. (Ladies be aware that we are relatively weaker in the upper body, which can make picking your self up off the floor purgatory when you take a tumble on skis. In other words just cycling won’t be adequate, we need to throw in some upper body work like press ups too.)
Football/ Netball/Hockey/ Basketball also cover several bases. For example, footballers make great skiers as they tend to be nimble but also have to have great endurance to last 90 minutes on a pitch. They have to be good sprinters too if they want to be first on the ball. Don’t just turn up for the Sunday five – a – side so you can slope off down the pub with the lads after though, or you are asking for trouble, it’s the training sessions you need to attend.
A less obvious but great preparation would be a trampolining course. Trampolining requires good spatial awareness and promises a good general workout for the entire body, even if you don’t get past the basic manoeuvres. If you opt for this one make sure appropriate safety measures are enforced, eg harnesses and spotters.
Yoga and/or Pilates sessions will strengthen the body core and increase your range of mobility. Ladies these will also provide that vital upper body strength!
Skills wise the sports most similar to skiing are probably ice skating, roller blading and skate boarding. Get stuck in with the teenagers, but don’t leave it until just before your holiday to give it a go as these options tend to be injury prone, particularly when you are first learning.
Variety is the spice of life so mix up a few different ways of training to keep you interested. Cross training is also a recommended way of avoiding repetitive stress injuries. A minimum of 3 sessions training a week will be needed if you genuinely want to improve your fitness.
And who knows? Whatever pass time you take up to help keep you ready for the slopes may even become a passion too, more than just a way to fill the long empty months between last season’s last snowfall and this season’s first. Many of our colleagues jump straight out of their skis and onto road bikes, or look forward to the first triathlon of the summer. Of course, we aren’t all so hard core but for me that is the most fabulous thing about so many sports – that we can all enjoy them at our own level.
However you choose to work out, make sure you finish each and every session with a thorough stretch to prevent shortening of the muscles. Above all, make sure it is fun, whatever that means to you. It might be that you genuinely enjoy working out or you might enjoy it purely for the social aspect but if it isn’t fun you won’t stick to it!!