Frequent visitors to the Get Rolling web site have already figured out what Dan and I do during the non-skating part of the year: we switch from carving asphalt to carving snow. With alpine skiing and inline skating, each sport compliments the other as a fun form of cross training. You'll find plenty of articles about ski cross training in the Downhill index of our ORBIT newsletter.
But life is not all fun on the slopes. At home during the week, our day jobs and workouts keep us very busy. Our individual training methods may differ, but Dan's program works great for him and mine is exactly right for me. Even though we are both now in our 50s, we still reap the benefits of high energy and endurance for our active weekends while maintaining lean and flexible physiques. So we are committed to continuing this lifestyle for many years to come!
Your level of fitness and your priorities are very likely to be different from ours. For that reason, I am not listing a recipe for you to follow to stay in shape this winter. Instead, within my descriptions of what Dan and I are doing, you will find hyperlinks to help you research activities and resources that might contribute to your own wintertime training.
In the last two years, Dan and I have both incorporated a broader spectrum of activities into our weekly routine. Most of these we can do at home, indoors or out, which frees us from a trip to the gym. Clued in by a 2001 training article in Outside magazine, we now both do balance work, which applies equally as well to skating as to our skiing, biking and hiking. Dan has taken up rope jumping and made a serious weekly commitment to plyometrics. I have invented a dozen step-up variations involving his plyometrics box and a length of elastic tubing. Even our cat Whitney has stepped up her activity level this year (and Dan's)!
We are both aware of the importance of stretching frequently. In the spring of 2000, I began exploring Yoga as a stretching discipline. My near-daily practice is now a very important part of my lifestyle. More recently, I purchased an excellent book, "The Pilates Body," by Brooke Siler. It taught me several core stabilization exercises that I can do on my Yoga mat at home without having to visit a gym or pay expensive fees. This fall, I used what I learned to reduce back pain while skating several miles in a tuck. Better yet, the payoff in torso strength and agility on skis has been astounding!
While we'd prefer to get our exercise in the great outdoors, when the weather is ugly outside, the local gym is close by for strength training and serious indoor aerobics. Dan uses the watts readout on the stationery bike to ramp up his indoor interval training. Between Yoga classes, I've learned how to use the gym's elliptical trainers in a way that simulates speedskating and improves my core stabilization (thanks to a fellow instructor, Michael Rissman).
Dan and I both lift weights twice a week, because having strong, toned muscles helps in all of our recreational pursuits. We realized years ago that staying strong prevents the muscle atrophy that ages people before their time. And of course, the added muscle mass means we can eat more of our favorite foods! A couple of years ago, due to lymph node surgery and back problems, I changed my 20-year muscle building approach to a program geared more toward maintenance and structural stability. At this stage in life, I've also learned it's not a good idea to let my joy in movement override joint pain, no matter how great the activity feels.
Early in my skate career, I made friends with Suzanne Nottingham, who was just gaining her reputation as a nationally known fitness expert. (She also happened to be a course developer and examiner for the ICP, the organization that certified me to teach skating.) Suzanne's writing in various magazines has inspired me more than once to adopt new and interesting ways to improve my overall fitness. As I told her in a recent, long-overdue fan letter, "I just turned 50, but I am living a more active, athletic life than ever before! Your influence over the last 2-3 years has played a big part in my current level of fitness."
Suzanne strongly believes that daily activity is the fountain of youth. As she says on her web site:
"AGE GRACEFULLY THROUGH ACTIVITY (IT'S BETTER THAN THE OTHER ALTERNATIVE!) Remember ... YOU HAVE A CHOICE IN EVERY BREATHING MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE TO MAKE IT BETTER!"
Have a great winter!