Is it possible to cram for snowboarding class? Because that’s what I’ve been doing for the last several weeks. I’ve been invited on a trip with my friends at Subaru (who periodically take journalists and athletes on adventures together) to Jackson Hole for lessons from some pro snowboarders.
I’m fully anticipating being the grandma of the group, and hey, I own that. After all, at least I’ll be “shredding” (I think that’s what they call it) with the youngsters rather than snuggling up by the fire like a “lounging poser.” Though I may be “blasting a dookie” or “biffing a pop quiz” more often than not. (See, I’m learning to speak snowboarding too.)
This will be my first time on a stick (a.k.a. “snowboard”), but I’ve done a little skiing in the past. And I’ve typically approached skiing vacations with very little preparation, save the usual “what-should-I-wear?” freakout I always have when faced with just about any new situation, especially one that could possibly involve single-digit temperatures and/or dinners requiring “smart casual” (wha???) attire.
Not this time. Rather than go into this weekend blindly, I’ve been doing a bit of sport-specific snowboarding training. And it’s not necessarily because I doubt my 50-something body’s ability to make it through without breaking, spraining or straining something. (“You’re so cute, taking this so seriously,” said a 24-year-old colleague. Cute??) It’s because, frankly, my 50-something MIND has wisened up to the fact that I’ll simply have a better time if I do a little homework before I take to freeriding on some monkey trail. The last thing this “noob” (a.k.a. “newbie”) wants to do is waste this opportunity by not having the foundation required to stay upright on the board, at the very least. I also don’t want to end up so sore after Day 1 that I have to spend all of Day 2 recovering. Not to mention the numerous breaking, tearing, spraining and straining opportunities.
Which, I’m sure, the people in this video are all too familiar with.
During the holidays, I asked my brother-in-law, who is almost 10 years younger than me and grew up skiing and snowboarding in Utah (his 77-year-old FATHER just got back from a trip to Park City … but not to snowboard) what I needed to do to prepare for my lessons.
“Have you ever skateboarded?”
With each “no,” I could sense his deepening concern. “I’ll get you out on my longboard before the end of your visit,” he said, explaining that a longboard is a type of skateboard (of course it is!). That didn’t happen—nothing I ever plan to do happens when I visit family. (Just sayin’–I’ve made my peace with that.)
Being the journalist I am, I could have rung up a top trainer and gotten a customized program. But, I thought, that’s not what most people would do. Most people would Google “snowboarding training” for ideas. So that’s what I did.
I landed on SnowboardSecrets.com, where I found great little videos showing snowboarding conditioning exercises. I took some screen shots and put together a cheat sheet of images, and took them to the gym. I know enough to know that snowboarding involves core strength, balance and leg strength, so this seemed to be a good collection of exercises to add to my running/rowing program for the short time (a little more than two weeks) I had to prepare for the trip.
While they seemed simple, I could feel my body responding (as in, I was sore) after each workout, and I felt my core getting tighter. But the biggest improvement came in balance. In addition to the impossible-looking “Kneeling Balance on Swiss Ball” exercise–which, by the way, I simply could not do without falling off during the first workout, and now can hold for more than a minute–I started playing around with a balance board. And when I say playing around, I mean it–it’s a blast. Well, it is now—my first attempts were epic fails (see, that snowboard lingo’s coming in handy). The board I’m using, Vewdo Balance Board’s Zippy, is something like a skateboard that rests on a wooden cylinder, almost like a seesaw. The challenge is to get your weight distributed such that you’re balancing on the cylinder. I was horrible at it at first (my husband urged me to put my bike helmet on to prevent head injury), but after I figured out that I needed to bend my knees a bit, relax, and breathe, I started getting the hang of it.
Bend knees. Relax. Breathe. Skills that will, I am certain, come in handy on the moguls.
Will all this set me up to be a “blazin’ raisin” (“an old man [woman] who’s just gunning it down the mountain,” according to the snowboard dictionary on ABC-of-Snowboarding.com)? Stay tuned …