Snow skiing is GREAT fun but let me tell you, it’s not fun if your muscles are screaming sore and you still have half the slope to go …. You will be using your upper leg muscles more than you ever have, so get fit any way you can.
Here are some good “get ski fit” tips:
Pre skiing fitness exercises are a must. You don’t have to be pumping ninety kilos on the pec deck and running seven minute miles with a lump of lead strapped to each ankle, but it’s essential to complete a regular and disciplined programme before you go off.
You should do something to increase your aerobic capacity, ie your puff, and some anaerobic work to improve your calf, thigh, and stomach muscles. Running up and down hills, or just walking hard up and down them, is good for both puff and strength. If you can’t always do this, a course at the gym on weights, combined with the aerobic machines, would be a good plan. Set your own targets and stick to them.
When do you start before your ski holiday?
It’s entirely up to you. I try and take exercise all year round, and if it’s getting to be a pain just try and think about the best run you had last season to spur you on…
Now for one or two unusual fitness tips, and when I say fitness I don’t just mean the physical side. I’m talking mental too. First try this balancing exercise. I always spend a bit of time walking along the top of a narrow post and rails outside the house. The top rail is about a metre off the ground and two inches wide, but you can try something similar on the ground. Do this every day for five minutes, say for a week, and it will improve your physical and mental stability, your confidence, and to a lesser extent your muscles.
If you find that your thigh muscles are aching at the end of every run, try this fitness tip that Jean Claude Killy used to do for five minutes every morning. Some of you will know it. He would sit against a wall with his lower legs upright and at right angles to his thighs with his arms folded. Do this every day for a month before you go and your thighs will be fine. His were. They won him three Olympic Golds.
Once you are out skiing do this on an easy slope – ski on a traverse on your uphill ski with the other one off the ground. Do it on the other traverse doing the same thing too. Try and think about where your weight is on the ski. Try turning to the left or to the right. (One way will be very difficult depending on the ski you’re on). Do this once a day after you have warmed up. This is a fitness tip for the mind more than anything else.
Finally, go as hard at the fitness exercises as you would on the slopes. It will pay off!
Here are some basic ski tips to remember as beginner skiers:
- always lean with your upper body away from the mountain and face downhills – chest downhill.
- lean forward in your boots as if you were tiptoeing (unless you are going into unprepared powder snow, then you will need to change your entire ski technique) to have better control of your skies
- to snowplough, press your heels outwards and don’t cross the tips of your skies; keep your weight on the inside edges of your skies
- when going across the ski slope remember to always keep your weight on the inside edge of your bottom ski (the one facing down hills); the ski closer to the top of the mountain is only there for the ride.
- when turning you will need to allow both skies to go straight down hills for a brief moment and then shift your weight to the inside edge of the previous outer ski and turn your body to face down hills again.. so shift your weight onto your right leg when turning left, and onto your left leg when turning right.
Please feel free to send us any tips that have worked for you and we will include them in this section.
So often people think that they need to wear 15 layers to keep warm in the snow and during skiing – how wrong this is. Yes the winter is cold but consider the following:
- Inside areas are strongly heated in winter, up to about 28 degrees in certain places, and also skiing is a strenuous exercise, so always dress in layers, which are easy to put on and take off and make sure you have a T shirt underneath.
- You will need proper ski clothing to protect yourself, either an one piece suit or dungarees and a long high collar jacket out of warm and weather proof material. You can purchase your ski outfit at various local stores, like Cape Union Mart (country wide), Rapid Sports (in Cape Town) and GoneSkiing, an one stop Ski & Snowboard Shop on William Nicol Drive in Johannesburg.
- Moon boots are another important item, but good waterproof cats or takkies will do the trick if necessary – alternatively get yourself a pair of moonboots while you are there – they are not expensive and perfect for tobogganing and walking and having fun in the snow!
- Accessories like proper ski gloves, thick socks, headband and a good pair of sun glasses are a must. If you find the prices too high here, be assured that you will find many great bargains at fantastic quality on location.
- Do not ski without glasses – the glare of the snow, especially higher up and even more so when the sun shines will make you “snow blind” and that’s not fun!
- Wear a strong sun screen, even for those who frequent the beaches and think they are ‘sun proof’. The glare and intensity of the sun is different and you will burn! Also you need protection against the wind and cold, so use creams that help you to do that – that also counts for the guys.
- Don’t forget your swimsuits – there are indoor pools in almost every village.
One of the most invigorating experiences is to enjoy time in a sauna after a hard day skiing on the slopes. There is however, so-called sauna-etiquette. Here some sauna rules, which you will find generally displayed everywhere:
- It is advised not wear a swim suit or any other item of clothing in a sauna – use a towel to cover up if you wish.
- Have a shower and dry yourself properly before entering the sauna; take off any jewellery.
- Take a big towel to sit on and for those with long hair, you might want to wrap a towel over your head.
- Sit or lie on your towel. It is advisable (depending on space) to lie down higher up until you star perspiring or get too hot and then sit down at the lowest level.
- Do not put the water on the ‘burner’ until you have started to perspire properly. The water should only go on a few minutes before leaving the sauna and is the grand finale before getting out and straight under an ice cold shower!
- Don’t stay in the sauna for longer than about 15 minutes.
- Avoid opening and closing the door too often while “heating up” – the idea is to go in together, heat up for about 10 minutes, do the water treatment (add a few drops of aromaoils or special sauna liquids made of pine needles etc.) to the water before putting it on the stone stove, (it opens the chest and clears the airways beautifully) and get out to a cold shower, bath or walk into the snow, and then lie down for 20 minutes to relax and watch the circulation kicking in.
- Don’t repeat this more than 3 times in a row and make sure you have your rest in-between. It is highly dangerous to jump in and out the sauna as it is strenuous on the heart and circulation. If you have a cardiac problem or get dizzy easily do not enter a sauna! A sauna is a health treatment and has its risks! It is not a weight loosing facility.
Please feel free to send us any tips you think are important and we’ll gladly include them.