Personal trainer offers ski conditioning classes |

Personal trainer offers ski conditioning classes

Dave Price
Chad Lundquist / Nevada Appeal / Personal Trainer Robin Barnes of Tahoe Outdoor Fitness demonstrates the use of a balance ball for ski conditioning near her home in South Lake Tahoe on Monday.

Whether she’s riding a mountain bike during the fall and summer months or skiing during winter, there simply is no better place to play – or live – than Lake Tahoe as far as Robin Barnes is concerned.

Barnes, a 19-year South Lake Tahoe resident, is a personal trainer who operates Tahoe Outdoor Fitness, and enjoys her work. She enjoys sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm for the area with others. And now that winter is approaching, Barnes is working to help local skiers get ready for winter by instructing a month-long ski conditioning class being offered at Kahle Community Center through the Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department.

Classes are held three days a week – Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 9:30 a.m. There’s no doubt, the Saturday morning classes conducted outside – weather permitting, of course – among the autumn colors are her favorite.

“It’s an exquisite backdrop for your stage,” she said after class on Saturday.

Just as Lake Tahoe is an exquisite backdrop for Heavenly, where Barnes works as a Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA)-certified instructor. Her objective is to help skiers enjoy that backdrop and their experience on the mountain. And it all starts right now with conditioning, “so they don’t have to spend the next two days in pain” after hitting the slopes early in the season.

“Talking about being fit only gets you so far,” she said.

Just look online at Heavenly’s instructor profiles (, at her list of favorite things to do on-hill – “help others make breakthroughs; make breakthroughs myself.” In the past, Barnes has been recognized on Ski Magazine’s Top 100 Instructor List.

“Just the feedback I get from the classes,” she said. “I think what I love about them the most is being able to get people to do things they didn’t think they could do, or things they hadn’t done in a long while.”

Barnes tries to achieve two primary objectives during the classes – to improve a student’s fitness level and athleticism. Agility and speed drills are used to achieve both of those goals. Balance is emphasized through such drills as standing on one leg (with your eyes closed) and heel-toe walking.

Other areas of focus include balancing and core strengthening activities.

Barnes emphasized the importance of the core muscles – the abdominals and obliques, as well as the lower, mid and upper back muscles.

“Paramount,” she said. “The wheels kind of fall off the cart when those go.”

Barnes also puts students through drills that simulate conditions they will experience when actually skiing.

“We do movements that try to emulate what you’ll be doing on the hill. You’re training your body to do the same types of movements,” she said.

Students even practice falling.

“Today, we practiced rolling on the ground,” she said. “Not all of skiing is about standing up. We all fall. This way is a way of simulating what happens, so you don’t panic and tighten up when you do fall.”

For that reason, Barnes considers riding a mountain bike to be good training for skiing.

“It’s great for skiing,” she said of mountain biking. “It keeps the legs strong and keeps the cardiovascular system involved. It also helps you learn to make good tactical decisions, to look ahead and plan your line. It helps you learn to be a little more deliberate and plan where your ski tips are going to go.”

Barnes grew up in Massachusetts and has spent extensive time as a ski instructor in Chile. However, she says there is something special about Lake Tahoe.

“That’s why I live here. There are other places where it’s steeper and deeper … but you don’t get as many days like this,” she said, flashing a smile as she glanced around on an ideal autumn day.

If you go

What: Nordic walking class

Where: Locations vary from class to class. Call (530) 318-7121 to reserve a spot in class.

When: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m.


What: Douglas County Parks & Recreation ski conditioning class

Where: Kahle Community Center

When: Tuesday and Thursday, 5:30-6:30 p.m.; Saturday 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Cost: $10 per class or $135 for all sessions. Drop-ins are welcome.

Instructor: Robin Barnes

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