1 New and 2 Classics to Add to Your Pre-Season Workout Routine

Jonathan Thomson | | Gear ReviewGear Review
Girl on balance board, workout
Adding new tools to your workout kit is essential for keeping it fun and challenging your muscles. image: The Sensory Spectrum

If you haven’t started training for this upcoming season, turn off your computer, put down your phone and GO NOW!  If you have, and you’re like most of us, your workout routines include the usuals like running, biking, squats, box jumps, wall sits and the other assorted tried and true training methods that help transform those pool legs to snow legs.  Those are great and they are staples of the pre-season workout routines because they work. But, variety is the spice of life and these are 3 routines that will help mix it up and get you ready for the season, while also having some fun.  Let’s start with two classic throwbacks and then move to something new to introduce.

The Bongo Board

The Bongo Board first made its appearance in the early ’50s as the brainchild of a WWII pilot who saw children in Africa balancing a plank on a log. Inspired by this, and his daughter’s desire to have something no other child had, the first commercial Bongo Board was created by Stanley Washburn in 1952.  Since then there have been many variations introducing rockers, kicktails, different shapes and sizes, but the idea has remained the same. Challenge yourself to balance a plank-like board on a round log or wheel-like object. The goal is to stay flat, do tricks and spins and challenge your sense of balance. The great thing for skiers, snowboarders, surfers and skaters alike is these balance skills are all inherent in the sports we love.  Introducing a balance board (the generic name) into your workout routine is not only great for developing balance skills and core, but it’s also pretty damn fun.  You can do it virtually anywhere, anytime and it does not require you to go to the gym, get sweaty, or warm-up, just grab your board and rock out.  You can even do it while watching TV or, my favorite, on a conference call for work.  It’s also great family fun as your kids will be drawn to the simplicity and you can challenge each other to see who can stay “afloat” the longest.  You can do a quick Google search for Balance Boards or bongo Boards and find one for any budget, but a few to consider are:

  • Fitter First Bongo Board: For about $140 you get a high-quality board that incorporates side to side and forward to back rocker for a challenging rise and ability to perform tricks
  • Revolution 101 Balance Board: At $130, this board is more traditional with a flat board and evenly cylindrical roller…good to start with and develop your balance skills
  • Carom Balance Board: More budget-minded at $60, this board is a no-frills entry into the world of balance boards and uses traditional wood plank and roller.
Fitter First Bongo Board, workout
A balance board can add fun to your routine while developing your balance and core. Image: Fitter First

In-Line Skating

In-line skating burst onto the scene in the late ’80s, but like a lot of things that blow up as in-line skating did, it’s popularity also crashed about a decade later. You still see them around, but nothing like the heyday when it seemed like every kid and many adults were cruising around the parks and trails on the blades.  Lost among the neon and spandex that seemed to accompany in-line skating in its prime, is the benefit it provided to skiers in getting the legs ready for the season.  The motion of in-line skating was great for building your core leg muscles, developing cardio stamina, and if you found some downhills it has a very ski-carve-like motion to making sweeping turns down this hilly roads in the neighborhoods. Carving turns on in-line skates required finesse and a great sense of keeping your “edges” engaged with the road.  Will this be the year that in-line skating comes back to the masses?  Who knows, but the benefits to your ski legs are undeniable, let’s just leave the neon spandex shorts in the past, okay?!

Inline skating
In-line skating has fallen out of the mainstream, but don’t discount it for your winter cross-training. Image: skis.com 

Lateral Elliptical Trainer

Something newer that you may have seen at your gym, but never tried is the Lateral Elliptical Trainer.  If you have seen it and just walk by to the standard elliptical or treadmills, do yourself a favor and step on up to the lateral. This is one of the best cardio trainers that also incorporates a ski like movement into your workout. By combing a traditional vertical movement and a variable lateral side to side movement you work on a more ski-specific motion and develop muscles that are unique to the lateral demands of skiing. Octane Fitness claims that “studies show that LateralX users burn up to 27% more calories and use up to 30% more of the inner and outer thighs when going from the lowest to greatest lateral width setting.”  You can also adjust your stance to be in a more squat position and really drive through the “turns” and get the feeling you’re not just sweating it out at the gym, but ripping a line down the face of Gunbarrel while getting hoots and hollers from the chair.

Lateral Elipitical
The Lateral Elliptical adds a new twist to cardio that activates skis specific muscles and movements. Image: Octane Fitness

So if you are already deep into your pre-season prep, which you should be, and are looking to add some variety these are 3 great ways to mix it up and add some fun.  While the Bongo Board and the In-line skates are throwbacks that deserve a second chance, and the lateral elliptical is probably something you’ve passed by at the gym a hundred times, they all have real benefits to how ready you will be for this season. Mixing one or all of these into your prep will hopefully pay some dividends come mid-January when you are staring down that steep face, bump-filled run, or if Ullr so gives that endless powder field. enjoy!


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