Skiing is fun. It's challenging. It's healthy. It builds confidence. It relieves frustration. It's an individual sport for the whole family to enjoy for a lifetime.

But before you plan that first ski trip, check your equipment. Bindings, skis, boots and poles should work properly. Over the summer bindings corrode, edges rust, the base dries out. Your bindings are the most important piece of equipment to inspect, and should be free of rust. All parts should move freely, and the bindings should be adjusted to your weight, height and ability.

Check your skis to ensure gouges are filled, the base is flat, the edges are sharp and the bottoms are waxed. If you don't know how to adjust bindings or tune skis, someone at a ski shop will do them at a nominal fee.

Your boots should be comfortable and in working order. If you have any trouble spots or broken buckles, fix them now.

The problem area of poles is the baskets. If yours are broken or missing, replace them.

Now that your equipment is in shape, how about you? If you're sedentary, more than 10 pounds overweight or over 30, have a checkup before you begin your conditioning program.

Work out a minimum of three times a week. Include such strengthening exercises as neck twists, push-ups, sit-ups, ankle-lifts, knee-bends, wall-sits, etc. Increase your endurance by jogging, walking, jumping rope, bicycling, swimming -- exercises that increase your aerobic capacity. For flexibility, stretch before and after workouts.

If you have never skiied before, take lessons. Skiing looks easy, but it can be dangerous unless you know how to control your skis.