Skiing used to be about perfecting technique so that it could be imposed on the mountain regardless of differing terrain. This domination the mountain, consisted of beautiful, dinky little linked-turns, Parisian bottom wiggles and endless admiring of perfect radius tracks in the snow. And, yes it still is, in many peoples’ minds.
However, snow boarding came along and introduced skiers to the concept of freeride. Freeride is a style that adapts to the variations and challenges of natural terrain.
‘Freeriding is to seamlessly merge aspects of other skiing disciplines giving you the freedom to make the most of whatever terrain comes your way.’
Even if you want to keep to the pistes, you do not want others dictating a certain style, forcing you to impose a one-dimensional style on the mountain. A more enjoyable way to ski is to let your skiing ‘go with the flow’ of the terrain, changing style and technique according to the lumps, bumps, weather and the friends you ski with.
Fitness conditioning has gone the same way.
Fitness has, and still is for many, been about spending time indoors, using machines, going to spinning classes, Pilates, squats with a ball behind your back etc. Well all this is just rehabilitation and can be equated to ‘week one’ at ski school. I do not deny that you need to learn key abilities, such as core coordination and then core strength because this is vital for freeride aspirations. But, if you stay in the beginner group, sticking with rehabilitation exercises, you will retard your movement ability i.e. you create unintelligent muscles with unbalanced strengths in limited dimensions.
A well designed conditioning programme is one that allows for the contradictive skills of strength and stability versus dynamic and fluid movement. This requires periodised programming with progressive goals: corrective exercise (strength/stretch), core strength, functional strength, power, power endurance.
‘a true craftsman is one who makes it look effortless but is actually giving 100%’
Once you have built your base through a periodised conditioning programme you can then introduce ‘going with the flow’ exercises. Going with the flow exercises are ones where you work your whole body as one (not the individual parts as per traditional training) in natural movements and in relation to the terrain. The key natural movements are – walk, run, crawl, balance, jump, swim, throw, lift, fight. Ideally, you do all of these movements in balance with each other, not just picking one or two. The best place to do these is outside using natural terrain such in the woods, parks, obstacle courses, parkour, playgrounds.
You’ll know when you’ve got it right because it’ll be fun.