“I started skiing to school as a kid in Northern America. It was never something I took particularly seriously, or specifically tried to exercise for skiing, it was simply a fun way to get around in the winter! As I also ran cross-country and track, skiing was the fun way to keep my fitness level up during the winter. Plus, I loved being out in the winter woods. I loved the special silence and peace that you get being in a snow covered landscape in nature.
Mindy’s Amazing Story
When I moved from America to the UK, I had thought that I had to give up skiing. Throughout university and my early career, I rarely found time. For one-week each year, I would do a little down-hill skiing with mates, but that never gave me the same connection and peace I remembered enjoying as a child.
I discovered a great group here in the UK that facilitate on-land skiing (without snow) called roller skiing. It’s genius! Roller skiing also has a great little community of people who embrace ‘swimming up stream’ on these odd looking things called roller skis. Through my roller ski club, I quickly found my way back to skiing on the snow and then started taking trips to race with my new mates.
I had the great fortune of being coached by a x2 Olympic skier! With his help, my technique improved and my confidence grew. However, I wasn’t seeing the results I knew I was capable of. Then, disaster struck…
Following an acute case of septicaemia, I was in the ICU for a week and then in ward for another month fighting it off. Believe me, it was a long recovery! It took two months after leaving the hospital to regain the strength to walk to the end of my street unaided. Another month just to ride the tube and get up the stairs at Bank tube station. I was exhausted. All the time and all told it took a good year and a half to feel whole again.
During my recovery, I gained loads of weight and didn’t have the strength to do anything but get through my day at the office and go home to sleep. This was my routine for months.
At the weekend, I started taking slow walks around the park, setting small goals for myself; for example, to reach a specific park bench before I could rest. Eventually, and very slowly, I got my strength back but by then I was obese and had very little muscle tone or strength. I was carrying so much extra weight that I thought I would never look and feel myself again. My soul missed skiing and the peace of gliding along in the silence of the winter woods and mountains.
Some of my colleagues had been working out at Embody Fitness and achieved great results! But, they were all younger and fitter than me. I assumed that there was no way the gym would want to take me as a client! However, my friend convinced me that the team at Embody looked at the individual, where each person is on their journey, and started from there. [Editor’s note: we often hear that clients are intimidated about contacting us, feeling that they are not yet ready, or that their goal is not “a transformation-type” case. Believe me, this is never the case.]
Strength Training & Exercise For Skiing
Training with Joey (my personal trainer) is amazing! He pushes me and motivates me everyday. I am now more focused that ever and want to achieve results for myself, both in terms of my diet and fitness.
Joey has been consistent, patient and relentless. I have already achieved so much in gaining strength and reducing my weight by 20kgs! But, you’ve got to put in the effort during your workout and your nutrition plan! I understand that there are no short cuts and there are ups and down. I always remind myself of the ‘ups’ to stay motivated.
In the beginning, my programme was all about getting the weight off through training and the eating plan. I was starting from rock bottom and it took a lot of patience and creativity on Joey to keep me motivated on both fronts. He had great plans for me but I definitely had to walk before I could run.
Now, I’ve lost more than 20 kg and I have been ski racing regularly these last 9 months. In fact, I have achieved a 10th place ranking in UK! I am a proper, competitive skier and Joey and I are taking my training to the next level.
I feel so fortunate to have Joey guiding me on what I knew would be a long journey. He has pushed and pulled me back into fitness with his ever changing and challenging programmes, which he would modify as my strength, fitness, and weight loss changed what I could do.
Now that I have lost a decent amount of weight and gained back my fitness, we have moved to a new level of training. Joey has been working with me and my ski coach to devise training programmes that achieve my weight loss and strength goals but in a way that enhances and dovetails with my ski training and racing.
I have seen a wholesale change in my skiing this year completely down to the training I have been doing with Joey.
This year, Joey and I have worked on strength and cardio, and I felt the results from the first time I got on snow. There is a ski resort I visit each year in Norway and I use one particular route as my benchmark. It has loads of steep short and longer up hills and there is one hill that was always a struggle!
This year, I skied that route again fully expecting to die on one particularly horrid hill climb, I kept waiting for the chest grabbing breathlessness to hit but I got to the end of the trail and realised that I had skied up ‘murder’ hill without thinking twice! The course felt so effortless compared to how I had remembered experiencing it in past seasons, I was elated.
Cross-country skiing is always at or near the top of the list of toughest outdoor sports. It requires the endurance of a fell runner, the sprint speed of a mountain biker and the mental toughness to deal with below freezing temperatures and exposure to tough weather conditions and changing tracks. Skiing quickly, often uphill, using both your arms and legs, makes it a true full-body workout. It requires cardiovascular fitness in addition to muscular strength, coordination and endurance from your entire body. There is a cross country skier’s slogan – ‘real skiers ski up hill’- to each their own and all skiers are athletes but cross country skiers do seem to spend as much of their time skiing up hill as they do down.
Racing brings another layer of complexity because there are so many variables on race day – your prep and physical fitness are just the beginning: the temperature, the kind of snow there is, the condition of the tracks, your skis, which wax you put on your skis, your start position, the hills ( the type and location of them), the feed stations, the width of the tracks and bottle necks, the weather conditions throughout and if they change significantly and so many smaller details – but the unpredictability is part of the challenge and you just have to ski your heart out each time and hope you can endure the pain cave longer than the person just ahead of you.
This year I am so much faster and stronger. I am able to ski farther than ever . I have smashed my PB in every race, even the times I got before my illness, by half hour or more each race this season. I feel strong! I feel like this is just the beginning, or at least a second chance. Joey and I are already planning our post-race season to prepare for next season to produce even greater gains.”
Thank you for reading.
To read something similar, try Nigel’s Story.