If you invest some effort in ski conditioning, your legs will thank you the first time you’re zooming downhill this winter.
IN A SEASONAL sport like skiing, the early days after the first snowfall can be rough. You can’t wait to zoom down a slope, breathing fresh mountain air, yet during your first trips down the hill, you remember that long, epic runs come with a deep burn in your thighs.
In case you forgot what that feels like, the ski conditioning class at Vertical World, the climbing gym in Magnolia, is happy to remind you. During class, my body was reminded that skiing is core and legs, legs and more legs.
Trainer Joshua Jubb takes the class through intense conditioning to prep skiers for the season. I took the class midseason, so Jubb focused on speed as well as endurance.
After some good warmups, he showed us the intervals for the day. We had five exercises for one minute each, for three rounds total. My legs felt wobbly watching Jubb’s demonstrations.
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My friend Natalie and I jumped into sprints first. We zigzagged as fast as possible down a taped line, hopping side to side with our feet together, then sprinted to the wall and ran back to do it again.
I liked it, and after one minute, I was breathing heavily. Next up was a beast crawl. We got down on all fours, lifted our knees a couple inches off the floor, then crawled forward and back, coordinating opposite hand and leg moving forward at the same time. My legs were starting to feel the intensity.
Our third exercise was called the pyramid — we started with one round of jumping lunges and a jumping squat, then went up to two, then three, etc. I knew enough about these to not get overzealous. Stepping lunges were in my future.
Holding planks was almost a break afterward, moving side to side to strengthen shoulders and wrists.
We did some snatch weightlifting next, working on hip drive to get a relatively light plate overhead. This I could do.
Our final interval was “swimmies,” lying on our bellies and moving our arms in circles, focusing on engaging our shoulder blades. I opted out of light handweights.
After one round, I remembered we had to do two more. I took a deep breath. Off we went.
Sprints were surprisingly tolerable during the second round, though when I got sloppy about hopping clearly on either side of the line, Jubb called out, “Precise feet, Nicole!” The beast crawl, however, took its toll. Jubb told me to lower my knees closer to the floor. When I did, they quivered.
For lunges, I jumped the first two rounds, then went to stepping lunges and squats without the jump. Planks stopped being a break and instead reminded me of how much my legs contribute to core strength.
By the swimmies, I decided deep breathing was the only path forward.
For the third round, Jubb shortened our intervals minimally to 50 seconds. It helped, but not much. At the end of class, my legs felt limp and useless, which I suppose was the point.
The class reminded me how much diligence and work it takes to be strong at any particular sport. You certainly have to put your time in for skiing. But I would rather strengthen my legs — and be a quivering mess — indoors, knowing the next time I head out, I will be ready for many downhill runs.