Friday, November 25, 2011

Getting in shape for the slopes

Fitness trainers offer some early-season tips

Express Staff Writer

Athletes turning to winter sports are beginning to pay attention to some muscle groups that may have been ignored over the summer. The Idaho Mountain Express spoke with a few fitness trainers to get the scoop on how to get conditioned for the ski season, and avoid injuries on the snow.

5B Crossfit

Alex Margolin is a former U.S. National Junior Biathlon Team coach who now coaches clients during group exercise sessions at 5B Crossfit in Ketchum and Hailey.

"Crossfit training develops good general athleticism that is good for both downhill and cross-country skiing, " he said. "Most importantly, we instruct and coach people on how to move properly. The biggest problem people have is in getting into the proper position to do work."

Once a client is dialed in, Crossfit sessions can include Olympic barbell lifting and intense cardiovascular training made up of a number of diverse activities that include rope climbs, push-ups, pull-ups, gymnastic movements and squats, sometimes during breaks from a fast run.

Margolin has been training ski racer Miles Sweek for a year, and recently began training mogul skier Trevor Norris for better performance on the bumps.

"Trevor will have the best performance of his life after training with us," Margolin said.

Underlying Margolin's philosophy for fitness is what he describes as a "hierarchy of development," with nutrition as a foundation, Crossfit training in the middle and a specific sport at the top of the ladder.

"Having enough water, a sound diet and enough sleep. These are the basics," he said.

BCRD Fitworks

Cameron Randolph is a certified personal trainer who runs Fitworks at the Community Campus in Hailey, just around the corner from the Blaine County Recreation District office. Randolph recommends taking a Boot Camp class with Jessica Schlueter to get conditioned for skiing and to avoid injuries.

"The best way to avoid injury is to get your quads, hamstrings and calf muscles as strong as possible," Randolph said.

Boot Camp classes are circuit-training sessions that run athletes through 10 stations designed to give an overall workout. The sessions can include skier-specific activities like jumping onto boxes, as well squats and lunges.

Randolph said these mimic the athletic stance of skiing, and jumping sideways mimics the side-to-side lateral movements of skiing."

Fitworks also uses Ski Erg machines, which simulate the arm double-pole of Nordic skiing.

"Ski Ergs target all major muscles in arms and shoulders so they are much more efficient when you hit the trail. It's a really good workout," Randolph said.

Athletes can also use Bosu plastic balls, which are half globes with a board on the flat side. Simply standing on a Bosu ball can exercise subtle areas in the feet and legs

"They really makes all the tiny muscles fight for stability. This is great for balance," Randolph said.

Community YMCA

Brooke Hovey teaches ski-conditioning classes at the YMCA in Ketchum. Her classes involve aerobic training as well as high-repetition core, back, leg and arm exercises with and without light weights.

A typical class begins with warmup exercises, including running forward and sideways, dynamic skipping, lunging, squatting and pushups. The majority of the class time is spent working on opposing muscle groups.

For example, quadriceps and adductors (inner thigh) exercises with wall sits and various calf raises are balanced by hamstring and gluteus (butt) exercises using only body weight on a physio- ball, which is a large rubber ball that involves balance, coordination and strength.

"This is a very dynamic one-hour class to improve cardiovascular fitness and full-body strength, balance and agility," Hovey said.

"Throughout the class, there is an emphasis on core strength and stability, which is so important in all winter sports," she said.

Hovey said she allows modifications of each exercise to accommodate individual strengths and weaknesses.

Tony Evans:

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