I have many friends who have leisurely, chilled out summer breaks and then throw themselves down the sides of snow covered mountains stuck to a plank of wood or two. They must be barking mad, I think, but then they describe their holiday to me, painting pictures of the most amazing scenery, the exhilaration of the descent, the strange sights from the cable cars and the relaxing après ski. So they aren't crazy after all. It sounds amazing and the photos they show are just awesome.
But it comes with a priceBut, many of these same friends admit that the fantastic-ness, the exhilaration, the amazing views all come with a hefty price - that of not being able to move 75% of their bodies for a good chunk of the time, with their backsides and thighs screaming abuse at them for much of the time that they are away.
Over the years, Paul has had a number of clients come to him, asking him to help them prepare for some physical challenge that they have coming up - triathlons, marathons, long distance cycles and even a flat course horse race, but one of the most common requests is to help them to get ski-fit.
They have had enough of coming down stairs backwards, of suffering niggly aches and pains that last for a lot longer than the buzz of the holiday and have decided to face up to the reality that, no matter how fit, strong and active they may be, they are about to put their body through a week of extreme sport for which it is ill-prepared. If they want to have a fantastic time, relax with friends and be able to walk without looking like they've got a couple of cabbages stuffed down their pants, then they need to put the effort in before they go.
So, having seen the snow on the Pyrenees as I flew over them recently, I asked Paul how important is it to not just rock up and give it a bash.
He explained that many people hit the slopes ill-prepared for what they are about to do, even those who have been many times before. He says they put a lot of time, effort and money into their kit but forget to invest the same preparation in their bodies which invariably leads to time away from the slopes through soreness and fatigue or, even worse, the development of minor, or even long-term injuries which can affect their normal life back home. He says he is not talking about broken arms, legs, collar bones here, but about strained muscles, aching joints and torn ligaments.
It's all in the preparationPrior to the start of the ski season, he takes his clients through a series of exercises which target those body areas used while skiing. Exercises such as squats, lunges, those targeting the core muscles, to develop both their strength and flexibility. He says that it is also important to extend the range of movement through the joints and to teach those joints how to perform in what would otherwise be unusual movements. Here he is talking particularly about the hips and knees.
He says that from as few as five sessions, if done properly, and focused on the appropriate exercises, stretches and mobility sets before you head off, it is possible to prepare the body for the high intensity activities that skiing demands.
He freely admits that these preparations won't make you a better technical skier, but they will reduce the need to take to a deck chair rather than the slopes by the middle of the week and will allow you to maximise your enjoyment of your holiday.
If you are based in the department of Hérault in the south of France and planning a holiday on the slopes this Winter and would like the chance to prepare your body as well as you prepare your kit bag, and you need your coaching in English, then drop us a note at Beetoned@aol.com or send us a message through our Facebook page and Paul would be pleased to have a chat with you.