Ski Fitness Interview
With Emma Colsey-Nicholls
Ski Fitness Interview

Following the developments of the Covid-19 pandemic, We spoke to Emma Colsey Nicholls to offer some insight into wellbeing and mentality for those who had missed out on this years ski trip- so enjoy and check out Emma’s Social media links at the bottom too!

“Hi Emma! Firstly thank you so much for taking the time to answer! We know that people are itching to get up on the mountain and; we thought it best to work with yourself to offer some insight on how to keep those lockdown legs in some form of action before finally being able to get back to the slopes and enjoying their corporate ski trip…”

Let’s face it, it’s the downwards thrill that we are all seeking…

Firstly, can you tell us a little about you and what you do?

“I’m a life transformation coach, I work online with clients to help them make lifestyle changes from a holistic approach. We help to balance and improve their lives by addressing health, wellness, lifestyle, mindset and overall happiness and wellbeing. My roots and experience are based within health and wellness and so that is always a key starting point. I live in the French Alps, just near Morzine with my family and am a keen snowboarder and love being outdoors as much as I can.”

Do you have 2 or more exercises you can recommend to keep skiing/snowboarding legs strong so that people can prepare before they get to the mountains again? Whether it be for regular skiing/ snowshoe/touring.

“Of course it’s a good idea to keep your fitness up all year round, but when it comes to training them specifically for the mountains there are a few key elements to consider and to add into your training to keep your legs fit and strong so that you are primed for an incentive ski trip as soon as you are possibly able to get on a plane and head to the mountains. These are my top go-to movements”

Exercise 1 – Squat Hold With Power Calf Raise

Sit your bottom back and down and hold a squat position aiming to get your thighs parallel to the floor with 90 degrees at the knee. Actively push down into the ground and hold for 10 seconds. When you have done 10 seconds you can add an element of explosive power by driving the feet in harder to the floor coming back up to standing with speed. As you come upwards, elevate right up on to the tips of your toes activating the calves, swinging the arms up above your head before coming back down into your squat position and repeat the squat hold again in that isometric squat position. Repeat for 6-10 repetitions.

Exercise 2 – Lateral Or Skater Lunge

Start with the feet together and facing forward. Keep toes pointing forward and take a big step out to the side. Bend the knee and lower the bottom down towards the floor, coming into a side lunge position. Take your time to lower to a place that is suitable for your flexibility and mobility and keep grounding both feet into the floor. As you engage the gluteus medius (side part of your bottom) push through the outside of your foot explosively and return to a standing position. Repeat for 6-12 repetitions and then change leg.

Repeat each set 4 times through to keep your legs primed and ready for the mountains.

Here is a mini ski/snowboard specific workout you could try out at home

check it out here!

Another key element that often gets overlooked with ski or snowboarding fitness is mobility. Your ability to move your body through a wide range of different positions. The more mobility you have the easier it would be to pick yourself up off the hill and make you less likely to be facing injuries. So I highly recommend regular mobility work like this one check it out here!

What are the benefits of these exercises?

“Holding the static position or an isometric contraction will activate more motor neurons in the thighs and help improve strength especially strength in that squat position which is essential in both skiing and snowboarding. Any skier or snowboarder will have felt that lactic acid burn you get in your thighs when hitting a particularly long run, or those wonderful moments of navigating your way through fresh powder. You want to train your legs so that you can hold that lowered position for longer and enjoy each run for all it has to offer.

Training power in your movements and activating the fast-twitch muscle fibres will help your legs to be better prepared for navigating and reacting to those unexpected moguls. And as previously mentioned, having good mobility will support you in feeling more fluid on the mountain and potentially decreasing your chances of getting injured.”

Is there anything that you recommend mentally to help people focus and prepare for a future ski trip or generally dealing with the fact that some may not be able to travel imminently? We understand that this third lockdown is taking a toll on many people and would love to hear your advice on general wellbeing that may be relevant.

“I see from my clients and my audience that this third lockdown has been extremely challenging and whilst we have to work to manage our mindset through the basics of the day to day, we also need to have something to look forward to. Yes, there is a lot that is out of our control right now, but we can still take control of where our thoughts take us. Practising moments of mindfulness to check in with yourself and how you are feeling, allowing yourself to accept what is right now and keep looking forward to the things that will come out of the other side of this.

In the area of positive psychology we know that having a reward like a high-flyer trip or an incentive trip of sorts at the end of a task is a great motivator. So whilst we don’t know when we will be able to get away on a holiday right now, having one planned is great thing to keep working towards.”

How important is diet in your opinion when leading up to a ski holiday? Is skiing really enough to warrant those indulgent fondues/tartiflettes we all so enjoy?

“I have to say that diet is important all year round, its what brings your energy in your body and your mind focused and functioning optimally and of course, it helps you sustain a full day on the mountain. In the run up to your holiday it can also be the difference on whether your ski pants still fit you or not.

In answer to part two of your question, anyone who has ever worn their fitness tracker while out skiing you may well have been left feeling disappointed with the amount of calories burnt (or lack of) while skiing or snowboarding, especially if you are using the lifts to get up the mountain. So while I truly believe that enjoying a tartiflette can be good for the soul and you should definitely allow yourself to enjoy one, you just don’t need to fool yourself you have ‘earnt’ it from all that skiing you have been doing.”

After the season not offering ‘traditional skiing/snowboarding’ and many people across the alps taking to ski-touring for the ‘earn your turns trend’ we would LOVE to know: which do you prefer and why?

“This year has brought me to enjoy touring a lot more. Mostly because it’s currently the only option we have to be able to get out and enjoy the mountains. I have also had a dabble at cross country skiing too, which is actually terrifying (those things have no edges) but also a lot of fun.

With splitboarding, there is an incredible amount of satisfaction that comes with knowing that you got to the top of the mountain with nothing but sheer determination and that it can massively improve your fitness levels. To experience untouched snow, how quiet the mountains can be with barely another person around is a truly remarkable experience that really awakens all of the senses to what it means to get back to basics and experience the mountains as people would have had to do when skiing and snowboarding was first discovered.

I also find it incredibly humbling to remember just how much we have to be grateful for with the amazing lifts we have in this day and age. Of course, I can’t wait for them to open again because let’s face it, it’s the downwards thrill that we are all seeking and you can definitely pack more of that in when you have a lift to take you to the top time and time again.

So even when the lifts do open again I will continue to splitboard for the health benefits, but back to regular snowboarding for the fun factor!- Who’s with me?”

Emma Colsey-Nicholls

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