For Nathalie Schyllert, it’s an all too familiar story. The CEO of the upscale fitness and wellness company, Bodyism – which counts Elle Macpherson and Hugh Grant among its satisfied clients – has seen many otherwise healthy winter sports fanatics hobble back into her club in Westbourne Grove, having assumed that they could “jump straight back into” skiing.
Many can, of course, but many would also benefit from a couple of hours of careful exercise before popping on the lift pass. It might seem overcautious, but it’s certainly better than flying home in plaster. This season, why not try some of Nathalie’s tips?
Focus on your core muscles
This is sound advice for almost all physical activities, but it’s particularly true of skiing, which involves a lot of twisting and turning. “It’s not like you need to do a million crunches,” says Nathalie. “You can try things like the crab position. If you can hold that for 60 seconds, that’s good. Or try the plank, or the side plank - that’s when you support yourself on just one elbow.”
Work on your legs
Nathalie says legs are the most common place to sustain a skiing injury, and better strength in your leg muscles can prevent this. “Squats help,” she says, “but it’s also good to try single leg RDLs, or Romanian Deadlift, a weight training technique. That also works your core and strengthens one leg. It helps your balance too.”
Use an exercise band
Wrap these elasticated bands around your legs, and you can perform simple resistance-training exercises to make your legs stronger too. “Put it around your ankles or knees and try moving one leg out to the side. Then do it again, but this time with your legs bent. That switches on the gluteus medius, which is one of the muscles that helps protect your knees.”
Don’t worry too much about cardiovascular fitness
Though it’s good to get your heart rate up occasionally, Nathalie believes most people know their limits, and ski accordingly. “Most people won’t go on any crazy black runs if they’re not used to that. That’s the beauty of skiing, you can keep it at your level.”
Do keep exercising once you get to your resort
Even a few minutes in the morning, before you head out, can help. "We call it a movement prep, and it doesn’t have to be long. Maybe five minutes, do the plank and work with an exercise band. It can really help.”
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