Get your body in gear

Ski season approaching fast

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All the hiking and biking you did this summer was good for your heart, but endurance isn't nearly as important during ski season.

Opening day at Steamboat Ski Area is less than five weeks away, and area personal trainers and physical therapists say it is time to start readying your body for the winter.

Belinda Brownell, a certified personal trainer and orthopedic physical therapist with Forever Fit of Steamboat Springs, said the muscle groups used for endurance sports are the same groups used for snow sports. They are just used in a different way.

"For skiing, it's really a power thing," Brownell said. "Each run might take you a couple minutes, but it's power, power, strength. It's a high-intensity sport. People don't realize that. The more you do right now, the less chance there is for a significant knee injury."

And no one wants his or her ski or snowboard season shortened by injury.

Forever Fit, along with the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center, is offering ski-conditioning classes. Brownell said her Tuesday and Thursday drop-in classes are doing a lot of strength and flexibility work, along with drills emphasizing quickness, agility and coordination.

"In Steamboat, everyone is a runner or a biker," she said. "They can do cardio on their own."

Peak Fitness isn't offering ski-conditioning classes, but trainer Tim Skasidas is helping his clientele prepare for winter. He is a big proponent of increased stretching exercises, as well as building up single leg strength.

"You are basically training all the small muscles to do all the work when you are on an unstable surface like snow," Skasidas said.

Skasidas uses a method called Active Isolated Stretching, or AIS, with his clients.

"You basically go in and mobilize every joint," he said. "Flexibility is just as important as anything."

Experienced skiers or snowboarders wouldn't start the season with shoddy equipment, so they shouldn't treat their bodies any differently.

"Get started now," Skasidas said. "You can cram a lot in for the next five weeks. I like to go a little longer, personally, but definitely getting fired up about it now (is important) so at the beginning of the season, you are starting well at a performance level."

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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