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FIT 2 SKI

Fit2Ski

After a great day carving up groomed snow corduroy or dropping into powder bowls, you lean over, undo the last buckle on your ski boots and set your feet free. While the feeling is liberating, it may not last - especially if it's your first run. After a couple hours, your lower body starts to feel as stiff as ice. But now there's a fitness class in Toronto that's aiming to prevent that post-ski soreness.

Fit2Ski is a group fitness program designed to help skiers improve their performance and fitness level on the slopes. The program, offered at some Extreme Fitness locations, was designed by former pro skier and current professional ski coach and conditioning specialist Stefan Overgaard.


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For those who may think this is just your average fitness class with stair steps or yoga mats, think again. As co-instructor Megan Joyner puts it - the class is almost like a boot camp, but you don't need to be a fitness buff to take part. "We really get people from all walks of life, from all ages and fitness levels," she told CP24.COM after instructing a class at the club's Dunfield location. And guys - who may be leery of attending traditional fitness classes - may not need to worry about feeling out of place. "We see actually predominately males, which is very unique as opposed to many group fitness classes," she adds.

The class starts of with some light exercises, including lateral hops and lunges, before it ramps up into a rigorous sweat-inducing program. There's not a whole lot of equipment that's used either. Almost all of the drills are performed with light dumbbell weights or a mat, meaning you can squeeze in a few drills between classes at home. The various exercises are isolated movements focused on "prime movers" - basically the muscles around joints that move you, Joyner says. "The class trains muscle movements as opposed to isolated muscle groups," says Joyner, who also works as a ski instructor. "We train the movements you'll see in skiing." Nearly all of it puts an emphasis on lower body and core strength, as well as speed and agility - something skiers actively need. The drills also help to reduce the risk of injuries, Joyner says.

But the hour-long class isn't all about hard work. Sets are broken apart with water breaks where participants sometimes chat about their latest ski plans. During a class before Joyner's interview, one person mentions they'll be heading up Highway 400 to Blue Mountain on the weekend. Another says he'll travel a few more miles - thousands, actually - to Austria for a ski trip this month. "It's a great social thing as well. People are passionate about skiing and they talk about their trips."

Because the class is packed with stuff to do, participants may, however, need to wait until the end to ask for one-on-one help to perfect their technique. Toward the third quarter of the class, the various exercises working the quads, hamstrings, abdominals, shoulders and other muscle areas gets even more intensive. What started as simple jumps on the spot have now progressed to 180-degree twist hops. Pushups are now "spiderman pushups," where you bring one knee in toward your under arm. After an hour of exercises that mimic or exaggerate skiing manoeuvres, one feels punished from the class, but you can't help but feel more prepared to tackle the slopes with excitement, energy and without getting as tired.