By Steve Lee
One thing that is always in the back of people’s minds while planning a trip to the snow be it for a holiday weekend or week, or even the season, is fitness.
I could ride you hard here like a personnel trainer saying you need to haul your ass off to the gym for two months prior, which if you are into is perfect and will do you the world of good. The truth is for most people going to the gym is not a major part of there lives, and it isn’t for me now days either. However that doesn’t mean that I don’t keep in shape.
I like to compliment my fitness with other sports that use similar muscles and even skills to skiing and boarding. Some every day sports like Inline skating and skateboarding are two good ones. These can be done on the streets and paths around beaches, bays and parks. Or if you are real gung-ho find a halfpipe for major fun and a super work out. A little less extreme and also very mainstream is mountain and road biking, now anyone can get their hands on a bike. These two sports are so easy to do regularly. You can ride or skate to work, to the shops or to your mates or folks house. All those short trips that you would normally do in the car for can give your fitness a major boost.
All these sports give you a good workout especially targeting your legs, back and a bit of stomach and will provide a good physical base. If riding around for all your errands is easy then take the next step of doing one or two really hard skates or rides a week and ad a set of sit ups for extra stomach work. No need to buy an ab king pro, unless you want something to hang your towel on, two min of any kind of sit up is all your jelly belly needs.
If you don’t get a little burn going in the stomach then nothing will change, a set of good sit-ups are the quickest and easiest thing you can do for your well being. See how many you can do in good form, build to two more sets of the same over a week or so, adding a few to each set every couple of days till you get up to 30 or so. Within a few weeks you will be doing over 100 sit-ups a day with ease, this will make a huge difference.
Another great exercise you can do at home or at the office is the wall sit. It is pretty basic, all you need is a wall, which aren’t hard find, and a little time. Just stand with your feet about shoulder width and out from the wall about 30 to 40cm, slide down the wall until you are in a sitting position or so your knees have a 90 degree bend in them with thighs parallel to the ground. This is the optimal position and gives your legs a very good static strength work out. Start off sliding down half way and hold it for as long as you can. You should be doing 30 to 40 seconds at first. Try to build that up until you are right down in that optimal position, holding it for up to two minutes. Do at least three every two days, if you can, build it up to five or six sets every two days, this will get your leg muscles in shape so you can ski or ride all day. Another way to do wall squats is with a swiss ball, same thing, up against a wall, you can sit static or roll up and down in sets of at least 10.
As a balance to what is mostly strength and power exercises you gotta stay flexible. For me Bikram Yoga is the go, have you heard about it, its in the hot room. I have to say it’s just amazing for overall well being and especially staying limber and strong. Check it out if you can. Look for Bikrams Yoga College of India schools. They are popping up all over Australia. Go for two classes a week minimum if you take it up. Pilates is another very good form of exercise that can be targeted for snow sports.
Just so you know, one thing I’ve always found, even in absolute peak fitness, is the first day or so back on the slopes will still get you tired and sore. However better fitness means recovery is way faster and by the third day out you should be feeling great rather that needing a holiday from your holiday.
Be safe and have fun this season, do a bit of work before you go to get the most out of it.
Sam Robertson has the natural fitness of an active 15-year-old, but most of us need to work at pre-season fitness. Photo: Tony Harrington