Just because the slopes have snow — finally — doesn’t mean your body’s ready for them. “It takes a lot of strength and endurance to spend all day on a mountain,” says Kathie Branitsky, group exercise manager at the Sports Club/LA (1170 22nd St. NW; 202-974-6600). So to get members ready for the remainder of ski season, the gym has added “Aspen Ascent” to the schedule. The class, offered Mondays at noon and Thursdays at 11 a.m., helps you to hone your speed, agility and strength, while getting you moving in every possible direction. The result is a solid workout, whether you’re a black diamond expert, a bunny slope beginner or even a non-skier, says instructor Aimee Richardson, our model. Here’s your lift ticket to four of her must-do moves.
Lift your heels, sink into a squat and start a small, controlled bounce. Then twist from the waist so your ribs turn one way and your knees the other. With your upper body, pull your arms (which move with your ribs) back in a row motion, so you’re squeezing your shoulder blades together. Make it harder by holding light weights — Richardson suggests 5 to 7 pounds. Start by going for 30 seconds, then take a quick break before doing another 30 seconds. As you build endurance, try extending the intervals.
Start with hands by your sides and feet hip-width apart. Squat down and jump forward, making sure you land softly in a squat. Then reverse by jumping backward. “As you advance, put your hands behind your head,” Richardson says. “That opens your chest and keeps it lifted so you won’t fall on your face.” Do it for 20 to 30 seconds, then take a break. Repeat two or three times.
This Pilates move, Richardson explains, trains us in how to get up when we fall. Sit down on the ground, leaning to one side and keeping your feet staggered as if you’re wearing skis. Then, using the arm on the side you’re leaning on, press yourself into a side plank. Use a slow and controlled movement to lower yourself back down. Do 12 to 15 reps on each side.
Get into crunch position, then drop your knees to one side and your feet to the other. Alternate directions while reaching with your hands to touch your heels. “It’s not a huge upper-body movement,” Richardson says. Focus on the twist and using your obliques. Do 20 reps on each side.