An app to get you ski fit, really? Absolutely, says Eric Kendall
You can never be too rich or too thin, said someone who wasn’t a skier. OK, you can never be too rich or too fit. That’s more like it.
The SkiFit app doesn’t help with your finances (though at £9.99 per year, it doesn’t get in the way), but if you’re serious about starting the season in shape, and giving yourself your best shot at getting through it in one piece, you really should try it.
Getting fit to ski is hardly news but it is as fundamental for performance and injury-prevention as ever. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Assuming a personal trainer is not an option (that will make you less rich, fast) and that the gym isn’t interesting for a whole number of reasons, how can an app help?
The obvious advantage is ease of access – the do-anywhere fitness program, essentially a modern day fitness video, online. But that’s the least of it. Fundamental to SkiFit is the quality of the workout in terms of its relevance to skiing. The Sumo is a classic example: standing leg raises which work leg, pelvic and core muscles and involve dynamically balancing as you do them. Then there’s the Musketeer – a subtle rearwards sweep of the leg which requires more in the way of balance, strength and coordination than many of the moves you might make on skis.
The expertise is down to the Chamonix-based brains and brawn behind the project, Neil Maclean-Martin (who also demos the moves in the videos). He’s a skier and ski mountaineer himself who works as a physiotherapist. He has been teaching the app program to ski guides, instructors and pro skiers in Chamonix for the last four years so it has been tried and tested.
Neil has a no-nonsense get-on-with-it delivery. No voodoo or knit-your-own-lettuce rubbish, just a solid understanding of the issues: “it’s about having good mechanics; good general movement will translate into good movement on skis”.
One word of warning: the program is straight to the point and high intensity. Don’t make the mistake of trying your first workout after a run, thinking you’re nicely warmed up and ready for a bit extra. You’ll need every ounce of energy to keep up, not just to get through the moves but to do so in good form.
This is more than just a workout – there’s flexibility and balance going on here too, which makes it challenging to more than just your strength and stamina. Some of the moves can even be done while brushing your teeth or commuting to work, like the ‘simple’ single leg balance move that can be ramped up by passing a weight (i.e. your briefcase) round your body in first one direction and then the other.
But the intro level can be slowed down and even dissected to allow separate elements to be practised. There are also tests along the way so you know when it’s time to move to the next level, of which there
When Neil claims, “it will certainly challenge most people”, I don’t think he’s wrong. He recommends a minimum of eight weeks on the program before skiing – a realistic time-frame which, equally, doesn’t pull any punches. Though his presentational style isn’t flashy, it is inspirational: he simply looks and sounds like the real deal, which should be a motivation in itself. But the time and effort still has to come from you – there are no short cuts.
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