Local fitness facilities offer classes to keep you in ski-season shape | VailDaily.com

Local fitness facilities offer classes to keep you in ski-season shape

Kim Fuller
Special to the Daily
Emily Selonick does the cresent lunge pose.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com |


• Yoga

Three ski-season yoga poses from Emily Selonick, yoga teacher and ski patroller

1. Crescent lunge (modify with knee down) for leg strengthening and core stability.

2. Extended pyramid (modify with blocks under hands) for opening and stretching the hamstrings and spine.

3. Half pigeon (modify with “figure 4” pose on your back) for hip stretching and energetic release.

• Plank

Stop, drop and plank: a full-body exercise you can do anywhere. Find a space on the floor and start planking.

“The plank allows you to work the whole body and builds core strength,” said Luke Charles, trainer at the Aria Athletic Club in Vail. “Throughout a proper plank, you practice proper alignment and stacking of the extremities.”

• Circuit

Five at-home exercises from Blake Gould, trainer at the Vail Vitality Center

1. Single leg Romanian dead lift — This exercise is designed to focus on the eccentric muscle contraction of the glutes and hamstrings. Start with body weight first to perfect the movement. Stand on one leg; once balanced, get a slight bend in your knee and hinge at your hips, keeping a straight line from your head through your tailbone.

2. Mini-band lateral walk — This exercise is designed to focus on strengthening the gluteus medius (an important knee stabilizer). Start with a mini-band around your ankles and your feet shoulder width apart (tension on the band). Take four lateral steps in one direction while never losing tension on the band, and then take four lateral steps back in the opposite direction.

3. Plank — This exercise is designed to focus on strengthening the core (lower chest to knees all the way around the body). Place either your hands or forearms on the ground, and create a straight line from your head to your heels. Focus on no hips up and no hip sagging; to do this, squeeze your glutes and tuck your belly button to your spine.

4. Drop jumps — This exercise is designed to focus on the eccentric muscle contraction of the glutes and hamstrings, while helping to create more strength and power. Stand on a box of your choice. Walk off the box, landing soft with your hips, knees and ankles flexed and back straight. In the landing process, make sure your knees stay in line with your toes.

5. Dynamic piriformis stretch — This stretch is designed to create more hip mobility. Stand with your body upright, cradle your leg, and place the ankle of that leg on top of your other leg while allowing that leg to bend. Take three steps, and repeat with the other leg.

**Don’t forget to foam roll. It speeds up muscle recovery and can help to prevent injury.

It’s shredding season, but that doesn’t mean your legs should do all the work. Gyms and yoga studios in the Vail Valley have classes every day that can make you stronger, fitter and faster on the slopes and beyond.

One benefit of working out with a class is that there’s a trainer or teacher leading you along the way.

“When an instructor is calling the poses, I will do the poses the instructor is calling, rather than making it up in my head,” said Julie Kiddoo, yoga teacher and owner of Revolution Power Yoga in Avon. “I know for me, being in a class makes me want to push myself more than when I am at home.”

Blake Gould, trainer at the Vail Vitality Center in Vail Village, echoes this sentiment. Workout classes create motivation — whether you’re in yoga, spin, circuit or weight-lifting class.

“While working out privately with a trainer helps you by focusing on your specific issues, classes offer a great atmosphere to help with motivation,” Gould said.

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Emily Dornan, trainer and programming director for The Athletic Club at The Westin in Avon, said group classes also create camaraderie and a social connection, as well as instant accountability for people.

“It really encourages people to show up, work hard and then they will see results from their efforts,” she said.

A group setting may also help people stick to an exercise program and healthy lifestyle more effectively.

“The positive social pressures that humans feel can be effective for the person who feels challenged by exercising regularly,” said Rod Connolly, trainer and owner of Dogma Athletic in Edwards. “It’s nice to feel like you belong to a community of other like-minded people.”

While the benefits of a class setting are apparent for inspiration and accountability, Connolly said to make sure you don’t push yourself into an injury because of a competitive atmosphere or group.

“Also make sure that if you are new to a group fitness setting that the instructor is highly qualified to help you with technique or any necessary modifications,” he said. “Group fitness programs that have foundational programming and the correct progressions will be the most effective for students to minimize dysfunction, learn proper movement and build long-term fitness.”

Dogma offers small group training session for those who prefer a more personal setting. In this format, a trainer puts together six students of similar abilities.

“The smaller group allows the instructor to closely watch each participant and help with technique,” Connolly said. “There is a strong camaraderie in the group, and the small-group scenario makes it economical.”

You can still be outside and on the slopes while tapping into the group fitness dynamic.

Luke Charles, trainer at the Aria Athletic Club in Vail, said his favorite cardio activity during the winter is an evening skin up Born Free.

“I’m a huge believer in ‘cardio every damn day,’” he said. “I find it nearly impossible to motivate myself every day aerobically. Sharing this time with others in a group setting allows me to feel energized and alive.”

Charles said his Instagram page, @cardio_every_damn_day, is dedicated to ideas, motivation and inspiration for others to help them increase their cardio lifestyle.

Schedule your classes

Gould said the Vail Vitality Center offers a variety of classes that are designed to benefit people of all ages and with all types of activity interests.

“Our classes are wide-ranging with one goal in mind: to help each person feel and move better,” he said. “The Vitality Center coaching staff makes sure that, while there are multiple people in classes, it won’t take away from making sure each individual’s needs are met.”

He said the Functional Movement class (offered Wednesdays and Fridays at 6 a.m.) is for any person wanting to create balanced strength to perform better in their winter sports, while also preventing injury.

The Vitality Center also has a Body Blaster class (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 a.m.; Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m.) that is a body-weight workout designed to help people learn how to use their body more efficiently while also creating strength. Gould also recommends checking out the TRX Movement Training class (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 a.m.) and the new Da Vinci Bodyboard workouts, offered in multiple 30-minute segments throughout the week.

“These classes focus on implements to amplify the use of your own body weight to move and feel better,” he said.

At The Athletic Club at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Dornan’s Pilates classes, offered on Mondays at 8:30 a.m. and throughout the week, focus on control of your body movements and having everything stem from specific muscles. This creates a balance of all the muscles working together. The classes also promote stretching for overall muscle health and injury prevention.

“Then on the mountain, you are able to recruit the correct muscles, rather than overly tensing something and underusing something else,” she said. “Pilates also builds focus, so you are aware of what’s around you — your proprioception, which is crazy important when you are on the mountain.”

The weight class offered at The Athletic Club at The Westin, called Chisel (Tuesdays and Fridays at 8:30 a.m.), focuses on full-body strengthening.

“A lot people lose their upper body when they just go outside all winter, so this is a well-rounded workout that focuses on upper body, lower body, core and then compounding the moves, so learning how to do a lot of things correctly and functionally with weight added, at the same time,” Dornan said.

To get cardio in, High Energy (Wednesdays at 5:30 and Thursdays 8:30 a.m.) at The Athletic Club at The Westin “is your cardiovascular burst” for your day,” as Dornan describes it.

Workout variety

The Aria Athletic Club in Vail offers more than 60 classes each week. Charles shared that personally, he looks for classes with low-impact and dynamic movement to allow for active recovery.

“The effects of active recovery from a yoga class keeps me healthy and on the mountain,” Charles said. “Yoga contributes in so many ways, from loosening tension built up in the hips to building stability and strength throughout the core.”

On Saturday mornings at the Aria Athletic Club, Charles teaches a Spin Training class and 8 a.m., followed by a Weekend Warrior class at 9:15 a.m. Trainer Malori Bennet leads Strength and Conditioning classes there on Mondays and Fridays at noon and a spin and circuit training combination class, called FitSpin, on Wednesdays at noon.

At Dogma, the Live It, Sweat It class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 12:30 p.m. combines mobility preparation, dynamic strength and movement drills, work capacity and a warm down.

“There is a strong, positive energy in this class,” Connolly said. “It is challenging but fun.”

Athletic yoga classes can increase functional mobility and range of motion, as well as strength. Connolly said yoga helps with what is “possibly most important for alpine skiing — an increased awareness of body in space.”

Yoga classes at Dogma are on the schedule throughout the week. Connolly recommends Mondays at 5:30 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 9 a.m. and Saturdays at 8:45 a.m. for yoga classes with an athletic edge.

At Revolution Power Yoga in Avon, Kiddoo said all the Power classes are good cross-training. Especially for skiing and snowboarding, she recommends Yoga for Winter Sports Conditioning, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:45 p.m.

“Yoga focuses on strength and flexibility,” Kiddoo said. “So you’re not only stretching muscles, you’re building strength in them and strength in your joints.”

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