Creative Tips for Getting in Ski Shape During the Summer Months
Taos Ski Valley, NM – It’s a tough time of year for those of us who love skiing. Our skis have been carefully tucked away and we can only rely on the sweet memories of fresh tracks to keep us cool during the hot summer months ahead. In fact for many, the only thing tougher than watching the snow melt off the mountain peaks is watching hard-earned ski muscles melt off the body.
This year, take a stand: vow to keep those ski muscles finely tuned so when November rolls around you’re not jumping straight from the sofa to your skis. By following these simple guidelines you can start next ski season strong and hopefully avoid those injuries that can cost you precious time on the mountain when winter is in full swing.
By focusing on exercises that stress flexibility, strength, and cardio endurance in the off season, getting your ski legs back when you hit the slopes early next season won’t be as much work and you’ll have more fun on the mountain sooner. To keep from losing your mind and your muscle tone during the off season, try some of these conditioning strategies.
Set Intermediate Fitness Goals
One of the best things you can do to stay in shape during the summer is to set intermediate fitness goals. This way, you have built-in incentives to stay on track. Sign up for a 10K run to raise money for a cause, set your sites on climbing a fourteener or three, or sign up for a triathlon. Setting a goal, gets you off the couch and training. Registering for my first triathlon (sprint length) helped me stay in shape during the summer and made the beginning of the ski season fun, not painful. Although distances vary, most sprint triathlons consist of a .5 mile swim, a 12.4 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run. What I love about training for these events is that they give you more balanced, whole-body strength development. If you have between 4 and 7 hours a week to train you can get fit and still have a life! If a triathlon isn’t your speed try another event, or if you get really inspired you can keep yourself moving by signing up for a few events and work on improving your times over the course of the summer. Check www.active.com for a list of events in your area.
Workout with Ski Buddies
Another tip for staying in shape during the summer is to organize a workout group with friends that you ski with. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, just pick a day each week where you meet and do something physical like go for a ride, play golf or go on a group run. By exercising with people you ski with you can push each other to do more and to be better, just like you do on the hill. The guys I ride with each week inspire me and push me to ride harder than I would alone; and with weekly group fitness activities we have fun together in the off season and encourage each other to be stronger at the beginning of next season than we were at the end of the last one.
Spend Time in the Mountains All Year Long
Most of us love skiing partly because it’s an opportunity to be in the mountains enjoying the outdoors. There’s no reason to only enjoy the mountains in the winter. Not only are hiking and mountain biking great cardiovascular exercises, they are also important because you’re training at altitude and because you are getting out into the mountains and keeping your lungs and legs in peak shape. And don’t worry if you have a job that keeps you in the city or at a desk during the work week. If you exercise moderately during the week you can challenge yourself on the weekends with longer rides or hikes in the mountains.
Treat Every Activity Like a Training Activity
Don’t stress, I am not suggesting you start running sprints at your family picnic, although a little healthy competition is always entertaining. But in my opinion, a lot of the things you do on a daily basis can be used to keep you fit for winter. For example, playing tag with your kids can be a great workout. Or if you’re mowing your lawn, push it don’t ride. If you love golf, walk 18 holes and carry your clubs. Stretch or do core exercises while you watch TV. These are examples of activities that engage multiple muscle groups and they demonstrate creative ways to build cardio endurance and stamina. Overall, I think it’s much better to move whenever you get a chance, as opposed to saving up your energy for exercise time.
Consult your Favorite Ski Magazine to Fine-tune your Legs
As we’ve discussed, varying your workouts is incredibly important. I feel that the people in the best ski shape build strength over a long period of time by doing activities that focus on strength, flexibility, resilience, and muscle memory simultaneously, as opposed to performing all isolated movements. But that’s not to say that doing ski specific strength training before the season begins isn’t important. To this end, I find that ski/active lifestyle magazines are a great resource for creative strength exercises. They include multiple variations of squats, leg lifts, and lunges to get your legs strong and healthy. Just about the time you are chomping at the bit for ski season to start, magazines are putting out their ski shape issues chock full of high-intensity leg workouts. If you’ve been building your cardio fitness and core body strength all summer, their recommended exercises will transform your legs into top form quickly.
Look into Foot Packing
Another insider’s tip for staying in great ski shape, particularly in the early season, is foot packing. During the early season, lots of ski areas foot pack their steeper terrain to build base. Foot packing is done by groups of people sidestepping down a slope tip to tail. As you can imagine, foot packing is a tremendous cardio workout and once again it gives your body an opportunity to get acclimatized to exercising at high altitudes. At Taos Ski Valley we generally begin foot packing right around Thanksgiving. It’s a fun tradition that kind of kicks off the season and brings the skiing community together. Foot packing gives local skiers a chance to get out there with our ski patrol and staff and we work together to make our snow pack the best we possibly can. It’s a good feeling for the mind, body and spirit.
It’s Go Time
Once upon a time I was lucky enough to ski year-round by going to New Zealand in the summer. During that time in my life staying in ski shape wasn’t an issue because I was always skiing. Today life’s changed, but just because I can’t follow the snow from one hemisphere to another, doesn’t mean I can’t always be in top ski condition. I hope these ski-fit suggestions help you get up and moving way before the first snow-flakes start to fall. Happy training!
Adriana Blake is the Marketing Director for Taos Ski Valley where she has been skiing and playing for 33 seasons. She is the granddaughter of Ernie Blake, a ski-industry legend who founded the ski area outside of Taos in Northern New Mexico in 1955. www.skitaos.org.