Up here in Vermont, you might say that we have no choice but to look with fondness at winter sports. Winter lasts a while here, and if you’re going to be stuck inside the whole time, it becomes interminable.
But as a girl from Texas, I could be less than enthralled at the choices for outdoor activities during this time of the year. After all, a snowstorm where I grew up lasts a couple of hours, and the snowfall is only a couple of inches. Enough to send Texas drivers into a tizzy, but not enough to make a big difference in much else.
The fact is, though, I LOVE being outdoors for winter fitness in Vermont. Just walking down the road on a wintry day, with the peace of the snow-covered forests surrounding me, can center me no matter what else is going on in my sometimes hectic life. But add to that the fun of actual winter sports, and the idea of playing outside has me raring to go.
Look beyond downhill skiing for winter fitness
Don’t get me wrong – I’m no great skier. I can downhill ski, but as I get older, I get more cautious and that doesn’t make for a great day on the slopes.
These days, I prefer snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you know how to walk, snowshoeing is second nature. It can take you places you can’t get on skis – into the deep of luxurious forests that don’t see a lot of travelers beyond the four-footed kind.
Get into those places, and you can really imagine how it must have been before ‘civilization’ began to encroach. One piece of advice if you’re looking to buy snowshoes – get a binding that is easy to put on and take off, and that stays put. I find almost nothing more frustrating than trying to fit them when my fingers are cold and my snowshoes come loose in the middle of the woods.
Cross-country skiing options
Cross-country skiing takes a bit more skill but with a little focus, the basic skills can be acquired fairly easily. There’s a choice in cross-country skiing these days, too.
- You can use skate skis for a good aerobic workout that’s sort of like running but doesn’t have any impact on your knees.
- Classic skis offer the traditional kick and glide experience of cross-country skiing, and with backcountry skis, you can bushwhack your own trails.
- If you’re really good, you can try telemarking. I won’t be trying that one any time soon – it takes a lot of skill and I’m still trying to get down the basics.
So if you’re anywhere snow is this winter, think about trying out these sports. We offer them at Green Mountain as part of our regular fitness program. Just outside our door is a beautiful cross-country ski center that we make good use of for both skiing and snowshoeing.
It makes for a very different day for most of the women who come to Green Mountain – one they look back to with fondness and that marks the day when staying active in the winter became a lot more fun.