REVIEW OF X = SKI-FIT PROGRAMME
Good intentions. Hands up if you always sign up to that club as the ski season gets closer and your fitness goals gradually slip out of reach. Are you always as fit as you’d like to be as you head off to the mountains?
This X = Ski-Fit programme is a game changer for those of us who half heartedly think about doing something to stop that second ski day syndrome – the involuntarily “arghh, urgh, oooo” as we struggle to get out of bed without wincing. Muscles reprimanding us that we should have done more to prepare for this. We knew it was coming.
You might have done a two minute wall sit every day during December, oh and taken the stairs instead of the lift for a day or two. But realistically these efforts aren’t going to stand up to much on the slopes when it comes to keeping up with the kids or getting down with the seasonaires and avoiding that muscle soreness.
X = Ski-Fit is a three month daily exercise programme that really is achievable. And enjoyable! There are even rest days. Result.
Bruce Thompson has created the programme. He’s an instructor of ski instructors, backcountry skier, race coach, personal trainer – definitely fit for purpose! He’s done the hard work for us* – putting together this brilliant programme to get us prepared. There are muscles and there are ski muscles. The muscles that start screaming during the workouts and stretches are definitely the ski ones which have been in hiding since their last outing in your salopettes (*OK, so you’re going to have to do a bit of work, like look lively in your trainers and work out for 15 minutes a day).
What’s offered is a good mix of stretching, aerobic exercise, muscle challenge and strength work through a series of workouts and stretch sessions. If you’re familiar with Shaun T’s Insanity programme then this is not that. No high energy, fist pumping, shouty stuff – just good, sound British calmness, knowledge, presence and expertise.
The workouts are divided into five types and you have a calendar showing you which one to do each day – Power & Agility, Balance & Control, Mobility & Stretch, Reaction & Proprioception (say what?) or Core Conditioning. Proper variety. And of course, the all important rest days. The programme is delivered online through the X-Life website or through an app. You just show up and it tells you what to do. And it’s only 15-20 minutes each day. Very achievable.
For each of the workouts or stretch sessions Bruce is there with you. I’ve never liked the programmes that give you a list of what to do (1 min of squats, 10 burpees, 30 secs of lunges, max out on your press ups, blah blah). I spend half the time looking at the sheet of paper or screen trying to remember which exercise I’ve just done, working out what’s next while dripping sweat on the phone that’s doubling as a stop watch. For this one we just follow along while Bruce demonstrates each move and then gets straight into it for the session. No time to put the kettle on while the trainer faffs before each exercise explaining things each time (another bug bear!)
One of the BEST things about Bruce’s workouts is that he’s a proper instructor so when he says right leg he moves his left leg. If you’ve done an exercise class before you’ll know what I mean – we’re watching and mirroring him rather than listening and copying and getting mixed up about right, left and oh, my legs have tangled and I’ve fallen over.
There’s no equipment required, like weights, bands, balls. Just enthusiasm and a bit of space. There are some exercises you could add weights to if you know what you’re doing but really this work out is suitable for all levels of fitness. If you’re fitter then go faster! There’s always a low impact (ie easier) option suggested for every exercise, this is in the top right of the screen and can easily be ignored if it’s not applicable. If you use a Fitbit and/or MyFitnessPal they can be integrated so you can track your activity
Wearing trainers is recommended but this is the sort of programme you can roll out of bed and do in your PJs. No fellow exercisers and gym bods to face. Be as scruffy, smelly and slovenly as you like. Just be present, follow instructions and results will happen!
With X = Ski-Fit it’s a complete package and is like having a personal trainer. Alongside the exercise programme Bruce provides recipe suggestions, motivational messages, support and advice (yes, personalised if you have a question for him) and good old-fashioned great customer service. You can add in results tracking, meal planning, motivation and habit coaching, nutrition advice. There’s even a Facebook group to join, if you’re feeling social. This includes really useful stuff about fitness, nutrition and health as well as extra workouts and stretch sessions, advice, and challenges to join in with (January sugar detox anyone?)
The app has notifications built in which I found a bit disconcerting – as I snuck a biscuit into my mouth one day (hiding from the children!) my phone pinged. Bruce was reminding me to stick to my goals. Oops. He keeps us motivated with images of the mountains and skiing to give us an extra boost and remind us why we signed up to this.
If you’ve already got a fitness regime (of course you have!) then X = Ski-Fit will slide nicely into your life alongside that. If you’re training for the winter Olympics then you’ll probably need a bit more activity than this but if you just want to get a bit fitter, stop the painful burn and have a spring in your step heading for breakfast on day two then this is for you. As you hear that lovely click of boots into bindings on your first day, don’t wish you’d done more to prepare.
And come on, if you haven’t got time to squeeze 15 mins of fitness training into your day then have you got time to ski?