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On the North Shore we are blessed with abundant outdoor recreation opportunities. Getting up into the snow is a great way to make the most of the winter season. Ensuring a great time in the snow, though, does require a bit of preparation. We went to a key authority on winter fun, Grouse Mountain’s Snow School and Attractions Director, Toby Barrett, to get the inside scoop on how to prepare to make the most of what is expected to be a big snow winter.
While fitness is great for general health, skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers must have good foundational fitness to enjoy a day on the mountain and to avoid aches, pain or injury. Grouse Mountain’s Toby Barrett suggests starting your fitness regime 6-8 weeks ahead of getting on the snow and has identified three main areas to focus on: flexibility, core strength, and strength to support key joints (especially knees and hips).
1. Flexibility – Get limber! 
“Start with an effective warm-up, of 10-20 minutes of light cardio such as a gentle run or spin on a bike. Follow the warm-up with 10-20 minutes of stretching that includes the whole body and focuses on the lower body. Move gently into each stretch and remember to hold it for at least 45 seconds” suggests Barrett. 

2. Core Strength – Absolutely! 
“Two of the most important skills involved in skiing and snowboarding is balance and timing & coordination – both of which are helped greatly by a strong core” states Barrett. Exercises like the plank, balance boards, sit-ups/crunches and leg raises/lowers are all great for engaging core muscles and building strength. 

3. General Strength With a Lower Body Focus – Feel the burn!
While we can’t neglect the rest of our body, the lower body is critical when it comes to winter fitness. Barrett notes that “to reach that next level of performance, you must develop and maintain more strength in your legs. Squats, lunges and deadlifts are all great for building lower body strength. Cardio activities such as cycling and rowing (eccentric) and running, hiking and hopping drills (concentric) can also provide significant gains.”