An ‘extra kick in the butt’
VAIL, Colorado – A live DJ spins get-you-moving tunes. A giant inflatable television screen shows Warren Miller films from the late ’60s and last year’s “Dynasty.” There are drawings for gift certificates and swag. This isn’t a dance party – though everyone is sweating – it’s the annual autumn institution known as ski conditioning class at Aria Club at the Vail Cascade. “We were one of the first public fitness facilities in the nation to offer a fitness class specifically for ski training more than 20 years ago,” said Kirsten Texler, public relations and communications manager for the Vail Cascade Club.Texler calls the Aria’s program the “most comprehensive” one out there, “Especially with the psych-up factor of prizes, parties, a live DJ, movies and backing from the U.S. Ski Team and Ski Magazine.”That’s right – the class has been “endorsed” by Ski Magazine. Magazine reps attend classes and after parties and give away – you guessed it – magazines.
About 75 people have been showing up each Monday and Wednesday evening for the class, to get their “I-haven’t-skied-in-six-months” booty work. “I do the classes for a little extra kick in the butt before ski season starts,” said Vail resident Kyle Griffith. “That way you get the leg burn out of your system before the ski season starts – that’s the idea.”This is Griffith’s third year attending Cascade’s ski conditioning classes. Unlike some attendees, he hasn’t been in too much pain in the days following ski conditioning.”I typically work out so I wasn’t hurting too bad,” Griffith said. “My legs were a little sore. The classes get progressively harder, which is good. They let people build up, rather than go out and kill everyone and then no one shows up again.”Classes started Oct. 11 and continue through Nov. 17, when an after party celebration will take place with professional skiers and snowboarders handing out prizes including ski and snowboard tune-ups, restaurant gift certificates, personal training sessions and more while attendess and trainers nosh on and food and drink from the resort’s restaurant, Atwater on Gore Creek. The DJ and Warren Miller flicks are a new addition this year. “Yep, they’re definitely making it pretty hip,” Griffith said.
Aria trainer Patti Hyre is one of the four staff trainers who teaches ski conditioning. She said the new components – the films especially – serve as “inspiration” for attendees.”That’s the reason you’re there – everyone is either a skier or snowboarder,” said Hyre, who’s been teaching ski conditioning for the 10 years she’s been at Cascade. “(The films) inspires people and adds excitement to class.”After a 12-minute warm up, typically everyone is split up into four groups, each led by a different trainer. The circuit stations include legs, plyometrics, agility and core. Mike Benedict, a personal trainer at Aria, and John Cole, the human performance director for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, designed the six-week program to focus on preparing the participants’ minds and bodies for snow sports. The program is made up of exercises replicated from the U.S. Ski Team, the NFL and NHL training professionals.”This year we’re really focusing on form,” Hyre said. “We’re starting to add on weight for our leg strength stuff, so you’ll do squats while holding the bar. For the agility circuit, there’s a lot of drills on the basketball court – like suicides and ladder drills.”For the plyometrics section, participants do jump squats and practice “landing mechanics,” Hyre said. In the core circuit, the trainers encourage core stability with prone planks, side planks and abdominal crunches. Classes end with a 12-minute yoga session taught by a yoga instructor. “That’s a new twist that people really like,” Hyre said. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.