Not too early for ski conditioning |

Not too early for ski conditioning

Rhonda Beckham

I hesitated to purchase a ski pass this year, not because of hearing how some people thought it was a waste last season with the shortage of snow. Not because I have been so busy with all of my dedicated clients, students at Lake Tahoe Community College or this column. I faltered because I’m scared.

There, I’m actually admitting I’m fearful of something. I’ll go scuba-diving in the deep blue sea, jump on a motorcycle every chance I get, and I am ready and willing to try sky diving. But the thought of injuring myself on the slopes is enough to make me think thrice.

Maybe it’s because I spent 20-plus years in the Seattle area where snow skiing is wet and uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because I’m older and try to live my life a little more wisely. More likely it’s because I am self-employed, already have knee issues and in my business an injury could mean big trouble.

I’ve been in casts and on crutches enough times in my life because of sports to know how much it interferes with everyday activities. But you have to live, right?

I bought my Heavenly pass before the Labor Day price increase. Now I sit on the couch watching baseball playoffs and football, right?

Absolutely not. And you had better not be either.

The thing that is going to help me build confidence to enjoy that first big snowfall is to condition my body as much as possible to help prevent injury. With the cooperation of Sierra Athletic Club owner Joe Pettit, on Oct. 1 I’m starting a four-week Winter Sports Conditioning Camp at the Tahoe Keys Fitness Studio. Check out for more information.

We will be using free weights and other inexpensive equipment you could purchase and use at home to continue the training throughout the season.

Even though ski season may seem like eons from now, the autumn equinox has just passed, and the ski resorts like to open before Thanksgiving. At a minimum, your muscles need six weeks of sport-specific conditioning before they are to move in proper form, reducing the chance of injury. This gives you all of October to prepare for the winter fun ahead. After all, it was just a couple of years ago all three South Shore resorts were open in October.

But conditioning, whether it’s in a class, with a trainer or done at home, isn’t just about skiing or boarding. All outdoor winter activities require a certain amount of endurance to contend with the elements and the sport.

The five areas you will need to focus on in snow-sports training are: flexibility; cardiovascular endurance; muscle strength and endurance; balance; and core conditioning.

Balance is one of the fundamentals of winter play. Strong quads are critical. But so are flexibility and upper body strength.

Read any ski or snowboarding magazine and it’s all about balance. Every conditioning tip, every performance tip is all about balance. Your weight is constantly changing as you turn. It takes balance to stay upright.

This is true for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, as well. Anyone who has fallen in either of those sports knows it’s better to learn balance than to pick themselves up.

I tell my students and clients to practice balance when they are waiting in line at the grocery store or bank. Stand and balance on one foot. Feel the weight falling over to support one leg-foot and then the other. This will help your body make balance adjustments. The most useful tools to increase your balance are resistance balls and balance boards.

Next week, read about how you can work on flexibility at home.

— Rhonda Beckham is a nationally certified personal trainer, with teaching certificates in Pilates and kickboxing. She is owner of Help Me Rhonda and Perfect Pilates, a Pilates instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College and Sierra Athletic Club, as well as a personal trainer operating out of Sierra Athletic Club and the Tahoe Keys Marina Dance Studio. She may be reached at (530) 208-6369, and

Winter Sports Conditioning Camp

Dates: Oct. 1-26

Times: Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 8-9 a.m.; Tuesday-Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Cost: 12 sessions for $10 each; $10 for each additional session; $15 for drop-ins

Where: Fitness Studio in the Tahoe Keys Marina, 2435 Venice Drive, South Lake Tahoe.

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