There Are Other, Fun Ways To Get Ready Besides Hitting The Gym.

Sure, you can do the gym thing. It’s not too late to hit the trails, too.

One of the myths I hear from people at the beginning of the ski season is that they can “ski themselves into shape.”  They have not really done any preparation for the ski season and feel that they just have to start skiing, and their ski legs will eventually come back.  If I ever heard fake news, this is it.  Skiing is a dynamic sport and in order to effectively execute a turn, your legs need to be in good shape before the first turn of the season.  I can’t tell you how many times I have see folks whose “legs are killing them” after the first and second day of a ski trip.  They ski defensively, because they are not in good shape and all the money that they have spent on a ski trip is for naught. That’s because they failed to get in shape before they got on that airplane.  The same is true for local skiers who make their way to their local ski area and have the same experience.

So why not start thinking about this now if you have not done so?  There are a lot of articles popping up in the ski periodicals and web sites about exercises that you can do in the gym.  But how many of us really want to spend time in the gym day in and day out to prepare for ski season?  How many times can we pretend to sit in an invisible chair with our backs to the wall to strengthen our legs?  On the other hand, there are outdoor activities that can be engaged to get the legs in shape but are also fun and allow us to be in the outdoors which is where we all want to be in the first place.

With the flaming leaves coming in to view, the trails in our mountains and parks are available for mountain biking, hiking, and trail running.  Hiking and trail running uphill prepare the legs for sure as well as providing an excellent outdoor fresh air activity.  Mountain biking ramps that up a bit by strengthening the legs on climbs, as well as simulating skiing skills like looking ahead and picking a path through varied terrain.

Lots of folks mountain bike, hike, and run during the summer season when the weather is cooperative, but when the time change looms—Nov. 4 this year, by the way—and the days get shorter, the motivation for these activities starts to wane.  If you want to be prepared for ski season, I would strongly suggest that you continue these activities as long as you can during the fall and into the winter if conditions allow.

A good friend of mine says there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. So why not buy a good Gore-Tex suit for running or hiking and also one to ride in the winter if you can do it.  Night riding is a favorite of mine, and there are a lot of options for rechargeable light and battery systems. I have used a lot of expensive lighting  options in the past but with the advance of lighting technology, you can now purchase systems for a fraction of the cost of the traditional main stream lighting systems.  Cree Mountain Bike Lights found on Amazon are an excellent choice for around $32.00 and provide three mode LED lighting with a rechargeable battery that can provide up to two hours of excellent light on high mode.  I use these lights on my handlebar with another one on my helmet.  I store the battery for the helmet light in my hydration pack and also the battery for the handlebar light can be attached to the top tube of the mountain bike.  I also purchase spare batteries and store them in my pack in the event that there are any issues with the primary battery.

It is not too late to get back on that bike, lace up the trail running shoes or hiking boots, and get moving.  Your legs will appreciate your diligence now in the early fall season, and you will enjoy your turns and ski outings much better if you take the time to be in shape when the first flakes start to fly in the mountains.

High tech bike lights allow you to ride into the evening hours when the clock changes back to Standard Time. Credit:



  1. Pat
    I couldn’t agree more with your advice. My greatest motivation: I love skiing too much to let poor conditioning hold me back.

  2. For what it worth here is an old mans preperation.

    Im 78 years old. I hate gyms. I sold my bike years ago. Too much fussing around adding air and adjusting stuff. I quit jogging to lessen the shock on my knees. I walk 4 miles a day ,fast, really fast , all year long . The weather or Temperature’s not a factor. I love walking at night with a fresh snow and gusty winds . Starting in October the last mile is up steep grades. Quite easy to find in Pittsburgh. I never have a problem once the snow starts . I will spend at least 4 weeks in Vail, Aspin, Keystone, Beaver, and Breck this coming year. Ill even hit Copper for a day or two even though its not covered on my Epic pass.

  3. Hope to see you at one of the Epic areas. I got the Epic Military Pass Veteran for this winter. I am walking 4 to 8 miles a day to lose weight. I am thinking of stopping at Ski Cooper also – $35 for old people. Maybe you can give Ski Santa Fe a try – it’s free for us! If you are a Penn State fan – I’ll buy you a beer to console you after their recent loss to The Ohio State University. If The Ohio State University wins the Big 10 Championship – I’ll buy you dinner in Santa Fe.

    • Michael Maginn says:

      Hi Lee. Thanks for writing. You gave us some excellent tips about skiing in New Mexico a couple of years ago. Much appreciated.

  4. Phil Humhphries says:

    For the first time in many years, I haven’t hit the gym for a couple of months prior to ski season. At 77 my motivation has got up and went
    , until I heard that my niece from Australia is coming out during her summer holiday, mid-November through late January and wants to ski!
    As a former instructor, I will want to ski with her so gym here I come!

  5. Hi Lee………Please stop in at the Minturn Country Club steak house in Minturn near Vail to buy me my dinner. Does it include the Minturn potatoe for dessert? My boys went to Ohio State

  6. Mark Hutchinson says:

    Good advice Pat! No wonder you can rip off 50,000 vertical feet most days that you ski!

  7. Carol Finer says:

    I completely agree with all the above. Hiking is a great way to get/stay in shape. I did a lot of hiking and walking this summer, and just last week hiked my first 14er (in Colorado) at almost 72 years. It was an awesome experience! My legs felt great, despite having a very bad knee, and the altitude didn’t bother me at all. Now I’m ready to hit the slopes!

  8. Robert Fancy says:

    The reason that I’m still skiing at 88 is that I take conditioning very seriously. I’m at the gym almost every day of the year. I try to hike uphill at least three times a week. I find that the inclined leg lift to be great for my leg condtioning. This will be my 81th year of down hill skiing. I spent 25 years skiing at Sugarloaf USA.

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