Words & photos :: Todd Lawson.
Yes, it’s time to put in the grunt work. When I was a ski-racing grommet, dryland training was the worst part of skiing. You’d have to work your ass off walking up the mountain, with no instant gratification of cruising downhill once you reached the top. I hated it, but when the mountain opened, my legs (and lungs) always thanked me for doing the work.
Fast forward a few years, and wow have things changed. Apps and smart watches can track our movements, and most importantly, hold us accountable to put in the work on our own, in our own homes. If you’re of the ilk that values getting truly ready for the ski season, Apple Fitness+ has recently launched a new series, specifically designed to get you primed and ready for another season on the snow.
“The area around snowsports has always been really interesting to us,” says Jay Blahnik, Apple’s VP of Fitness Technologies. “Even before we launched before COVID, we thought to ourselves, ‘Could these programs not just be about fitness and exercise? Could they be programs that help you do the things you love? Make it easier to do the stuff that you wanted to do in your life?’ And snowsports was really high on our list. Like everything in Fitness+, we wanted to make sure it was modifiable and friendly, and that it wasn’t just technical, it was also inspiring and fun…and I think you’ll see that in the workouts.”
Featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion skier Ted Ligety, along with Fitness+ trainer Anja Garcia, the high-intensity program combines strength, balance, and endurance so users can charge the mountain. All. Day. Long.
“I spent the last 17 years of my life training as a professional athlete, and now more than ever, I know how important it is to continue training in an accessible and realistic way so I can stay on the slopes longer, prevent injury, and have fun with my family,” says Ligety.
Not only have Ligety and Garcia incorporated the all-important tree-trunk-making quad exercises into the snow program, they completely understand that skiing and snowboarding require the entire body to be operating at maximum capacity.
“We did take a total body approach to this program,” says Garcia, a snowboarder in her own right. “We did not leave anything untouched. Having said that, we did focus heavily on the legs, specifically on stability and strength, and also giving options for people that are brand-new to snowsports in general, and also your Olympians, like Ted, who are wanting to gear up and get ready for the season.”
As a professional racer, Ligety knows how important the legs are in the game, but what’s at the centre that matters most.
“Skiing and snowboarding are obviously very leg-focused, but the core is also hugely important. [In the workouts], there’s a big focus on some plyometric elements, some agility elements, and a lot of balance. Skiing is all about stabilizing under force, and balancing those forces under all kinds of conditions.”
The good news is that you don’t have to go at it alone. If you ski with a regular posse or are part of a team, you can get your pre-season routine going together and bring some fun into the hurt locker.
“[With] the group workout, powered by Shareplay, you can invite anyone else that’s a Fitness+ subscriber and they’ll actually get to see anyone else picture-in-picture,” says Blahnik. “It makes it really fun to be able to share a little smack-talk and watch what each other is doing, and keep each other accountable even when you’re not working out together.”
And it’s not just intense HIIT-flavoured workouts. Yoga and guided meditation are also key elements in the series, featuring exercises you can do while shivering in line waiting for the lifts to crack open.
“It’s so important to be warm when you go out there,” says Garcia. “That was really part of the inspiration, just being able to keep people warm and mobile before they hop on the lift for the first time. You can actually be waiting in line and do [the exercises].”
‘Tis the season. Get your posse stoked, your body ready, and your brain focused. It’s getting white up there….