19th January 2016
Hello there! If you follow me on social media (wink wink nudge nudge), then you’ll know that I spent the week following Christmas skiing out in Courchevel, France. This was my third year out in the Three Valleys and, once again, it was nothing short of incredible. There’s something about the fresh mountain air and the snow-covered trees I just can’t get enough of, and a week on the slopes was the perfect recuperating retreat from the bustling busyness which has become my every-day life. I’ve come back feeling relaxed and rejuvenated; ready for a kick-ass 2016.
While skiing is sometimes stereotyped as overly-glamourous and exclusive for the rich and famous, it’s actually really easy and something just about anyone can do. It’s also a lot of hard work, and if you’re planning to make the most of your trip then you’ll want to be fit and physically prepared. After all, you haven’t gone all that way to feel exhausted the entire time. Sure, that’s a part of it, but you’ll want to have some fun along the way too. There's a workout for that. Today I’m collaborating with Virgin Active to present my ‘Skiing Survival Guide’ with all my top tips and preparation for the best skiing getaway possible! I'll also be hosting my very own workout class in London (with the much-needed help of a fantastic Virgin Active personal trainer) on Saturday the 13th February. There's ten places available, so if you'd like to come along tweet @VirginActiveUK with "#MyWorkoutFor Skiing with @jackbenedwards" Hopefully see you there!
Ski Jacket and Salopettes
T-shirts and Under-Tops
Sweaters and Fleeces
Loungewear and Pyjamas
Goggles or Sunglasses
Snood, Hat and Gloves
Thick Socks for Boots
Top Tip #1: Mars Bars are the perfect energy boost whilst out on the slopes all day and a great size to easily fit in your pocket. I usually buy a big multi-pack before leaving the UK and then pop two bars in my jacket pocket each skiing day before leaving the chalet for a midday pick-me-up. So, pack your bag like Mars Bars are having a close-down sale and there's an apocolypse on its way.
Top Tip #2: Make sure your ski jacket has a zip on one of the sleeves to fit your 'lift pass' in. This grants you access to all lifts around the resort you're staying in. Gates are all automatic so as long as the pass is kept in your pocket you'll never have to get it out and, hopefully, avoid losing it.
My Experience with Skiing Lessons: Each year I've been skiing, my family and I have invested some of our time into lessons with a private instructor. These instructors teach you new skills and enhance your ability one-on-one, as well as taking you around the resort and showing you the best spots. I've always found this so valuable and see vast improvement every single time. If you're new to skiing, I'd definitely recommend this. I've always had lessons wih 'New Generation' who provide an English-speaking high-quality service.
Getting Fit with Virgin Active: Skiing, after all, is a sport - and a high-energy one at that. As I previously mentioned, you'll be spending a lot of time out on the slopes if you want to make the most of your trip, so it’s best to get fit before you go. There’s a workout for that. I’m teaming up with Virgin Active on their new campaign which focuses on getting fit for life. The gym isn’t just for gym bunnies, drinking their protein shakes and posting selfies showcasing rippling flexed muscles. You might want to focus on endurance-related workouts, such as running, cross-training or the rowing machine, as skiing is all about durability. Exercises which incorporate your knees and pelvis will also be effective, as there’s lots of movement required in those areas. Parallel skiing involves movements in an almost-squat-like motion so squats will be beneficial. Finally, practice your weight distribution because this is how you’ll turn on the slopes. Bend your knees as if doing a poo standing on skiis and distribute your weight forwards until you feel like you might tip. Obviously, this won’t feel natural in normal circumstances, but when you’re skiing you’ll be aiming to go down the hill. Head on down to your nearest Virgin Active to get started!
Top Tip #3: If you wear glasses to, y’know, see, then this one’s for you. You can purchase specialised goggles which fit over your ordinary glasses, meaning that you can still have your vision on the slopes… rejoice! Goggles protect your eyes from sunlight and snow, so they’re an essential. Although glasses-covering goggles are really quite large, they honestly don’t look any different to any of the other goggles you’ll see everyone else wearing, so you won’t look out of place. Definitely buy these before you go, however – just to make sure!
Suncream is essential to pack. On sunny days, you'll really feel it on your face as the snow reflects pretty much everything. Likewise, lip balm protects your lips from the sun as well as the wind.
Top Tip #4: Ask chalet staff, locals you meet and resort workers for advice. They'll always know what runs are best at what time of day and the best routes to get there.
My Experience in Courchevel: The French Alps are the only place I've ever actually been skiing (unless you count Hemel Hempstead) but I love it there. The Three Valleys are beautiful and, this year, Courchevel had the most runs open in Europe before the heavy downpours of snow. It is a particularly affluent area, which is immediately palpable as soon as you reach the mountains. You can read about my experience last year here!
Top Tip #5: There are often a few different places where you can leave your skis when not in use. If you're not wanting to ski until your legs ache every single day then there are often lockers or shops you can leave your skis! My mum tried that this year and found it a whole lot easier and hassle-free.
Top Tip #6: When packing, you've got lots of big things to fit into your suitcase, so you'll run out of room quickly. Stuff your jacket, salopettes and bulky ski boots with socks and underwear to save room!
Staying warm is of vital importance. I always wear a snood which is great for furrowing your face in when on chilly chair lifts and carry emergency hand warmers in my pockets just in case!
Some Things to Remember:
1. Always face your shoulders and body down the mountain
2. Shift your weight up the mountain in order to stop or slow down
3. Distribute more of your weight forwards, Pushing backwards will cause you to lose balance
4. Your hands holding the poles should always stay within your peripheral vision
5. Don't think about what's behind you. Focus on what's in front and everyone else will do the same
I hope this blog post has inspired you to get fit and prepared for skiing, as well as providing you with some top tips from one ski-lover to another! On Saturday the 13th of February, I’m going to be hosting my very own Virgin Active fitness class (eek!) with a personal trainer up in London where I’ll be exploring the fitness element of skiing preparation even further. There's ten places up for grabs, so if you'd like to come along tweet @VirginActiveUK with "#MyWorkoutFor Skiing with @jackbenedwards" Hopefully see you there!
Thank you very much for reading. This year, I’m extremely honoured to have been nominated for two UK Blog Awards, so if you enjoyed this post and you’re feeling especially lovely then please head over to the voting website here where you can vote for me to be shortlisted! This means the world to me and would put a massive smile on my face – thank you in advance!!!! Until next time, goodbye.
DISCLAIMER: This is a paid for advertorial, kindly sponsored by Virgin Active, however all opinions are my own.
By Jack Edwards