The Best Ski Fitness Classes

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A lot of people head off on a skiing trip without really thinking about how physically testing it's going to be. Even if you’re fit, snowsports make unusual demands on your body and you should prepare carefully. I tested some gym classes aimed at doing just that.

Snow Camp at Virgin Active

Duration: One 45-minute session a week for six weeks
Where: 37 Virgin Active clubs across the UK
Cost: £15-£20 per session

The workout took us through every plane of motion, with most of the moves being done on the PowerPlate. According to Virgin Active’s national fitness manager Nick Hudson, a Sno Camp session replicates the leg-loading you experience on the hill, switches on more muscle fibres to improve your response times and helps build muscular endurance. Some of the positions, such as the Eddie the Eagle and the static ski squat, were familiar, but I’d never before done mogul jumps (side-to-side jumps on and off the PowerPlate) or racing ski squats (fast squats in which the bottom position mimics a ski racing tuck). We finished off with a recovery-aiding calf and thigh massage.

Verdict: The moves were challenging and functional enough that you’d certainly feel stronger on the piste – just don’t expect it to improve your technique.

Ski-fit at Good Vibes

Duration: Three 25-minute sessions a week for six weeks
Where: Good Vibes, Covent Garden, London; Liverpool Street, London; Fitzrovia, London
Cost: £325 for the course

Our short class combined ski-specific core and leg-conditioning exercises, using medicine balls, resistance bands and the PowerPlate. Before it started I didn’t think 25 minutes would be long enough to be effective, but ten minutes into the class and with my quads on fire I realised I was wrong.

‘Exercising on the PowerPlate means you automatically engage your abdominals,’ says Good Vibes director Nahid de Belgeonne. ‘And since you drive all skiing movements from your core, this improves control of the old snow-slicing planks. The vibrations also help strengthen the muscles around the joints you bring into play when you ski, such as your ankles and knees.’

Verdict: The class included a good range of static, dynamic and explosive movements, which work your co-ordination, leg strength and cardiovascular fitness. After this you should be able to head out for a day’s skiing suitably stronger and better injury-proofed.

Hypoxic 5 at The Third Space

Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: Free with membership
Where: The Third Space, Soho, London

During this oxygen-starved class we did five-station (hence the name) cardio and strength training circuits, incorporating the rower, bike, treadmill and cross-trainer. ‘The hypoxic chamber mimics the feeling of being at high altitude by decreasing the levels of oxygen you take in,’ explains class instructor Maz Turley. ‘In order to get enough oxygen, the heart and lungs have to work a lot harder, which increases their strength and efficiency. This will help to decrease the feeling of breathlessness and lessen fatigue when you hit the slopes so you’ll be able to ski harder and longer.’

Verdict: Working out in the hypoxic chamber is a dizzying experience and isn’t suitable for those new to training – after the session my body ached a lot more than I would normally expect after a half-hour workout. Do one session per week in the four weeks running up to your trip and you should be tireless on your skis.

Lucy Miller
Former editor

Lucy Miller is an experienced journalist who has worked across a range of health and fitness titles. She was the fitness and nutrition editor at Men’s Fitness UK, and has also been fitness editor of both Health & Fitness UK and Women’s Fitness UK. Lucy qualified as a NASM-certified personal trainer and nutritionist in 2008.