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Pilates for Skiers

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By Lauri Stricker

The exhilaration of soaring down a mountainside over a blanket of sparkling white snow, surrounded by pristine evergreens and an endless blue sky inspires millions of people to ski every year. It’s no small reward for countless hours spent in the car, in lift lines, and on bristling cold lift rides to the top of the mountain.

In the Colorado Rockies, where I live, I have cross-trained skiers with Pilates from October to March for the past seven years. My sessions often start with snow reports, gear reviews, and tales of anticipated heli trips and back-country hut adventures. I’ve worked with all kinds of skiers, from strictly downhill resort skiers to purist tele-skiers (who make use of a style of cross country ski that leaves the heel free). Whether they prefer groomers, moguls, or powder, they all want to be in top form for skiing. Many of my skiing clients can only make time for Pilates workouts midweek because of their weekend skiing excursions. They might range in age, fitness level or ski preference, but they train with me religiously every winter for the same reasons: to get strong, stay injury free, and enjoy winter fun in the mountains. A client with a goal is a motivated client, and skiers are both. Pilates is an excellent way to keep skiers fit and coming back to your studio season after season.

Pilates and Fall Line Fitness
If you made a snow ball and let it roll down the side of a mountain, the path it rolls down is called the fall line. To ski the fall line with finesse and control requires flowing motion, rhythm, and precision. This agility on the slopes is what I call “Fall Line Fitness.” A strong core, muscle balance, and flexibility are essential elements of Fall Line Fitness. You do not have to be a ski instructor to make a direct impact on your client’s ski fitness. However, you do have to be an alignment specialist skilled at teaching high quality movement.