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The Fitness Paradox - Page 2

post #31 of 36

"overpowering their skis"

I think you may have something there, Lisamarie. This is just something I've noticed as a beginner-intermediate skiier who has seen a lot of my friends attempt to learn to ski. What I've noticed is that it tends to be those who are very athletic, muscular, who have the most difficulty picking up the sport.

1. They seem to get more frustrated at themselves for not 'getting it'. Perhaps because they are in good physical condition, they expect themselves to be more athletically inclined than the 30-lb overweight person sharing their lesson. They don't want to try again after their first 'failure' of a an attempt, thinking that they just 'can't do it'.

2. Perhaps they are not as flexible, particularly in the legs, making getting into the beginner 'wedge' form a bit more difficult (I noticed this particularly the other night when a friend of mine, who is VERY muscular, took a lesson and just couldn't get his knees and legs to work in the wedge).

It's something I see in lots of sports that require technique sometimes before strength. People try and muscle their way into things, without realizing that perhaps a softer touch will make it easier, i.e. not overpowering their skis, but allowing them to do their work, and simply learning to control them.

In some of my other hobbies/sports, you'll often see the small, unmuscled people really excel, because they don't have the strength and therefore develop superlative technique to make up for it. It's really quite interesting.

post #32 of 36
As a surfer and skier for 30+ years I have found "gym rat" type bodies and minds don't generally do as well at these sports when starting out. It's more prevalent in surfers than skiers. Any extra bulk just gets in the way. There is a certain flexibility that comes from doing the activity itself that doesn't come from a gym. When I lived in Utah I found the same thing with skiers. While some skiers did gym workouts for strength with great results, they were usually established skiers.

Muscle bound workout rats generally look stiff and off balance as beginners in most balance sports. Either way the instructor was out of line showing any disappointment. He or she was getting paid to help the person not discourage.


post #33 of 36
Nice post Kimmy,
I agree and many skiers never really become finesse skiers or learn to channel their streignth to muscle tention instead of arobic exercise type of movements. A common quote is "some day I want to ski like a girl". There is a lot to that.

Beginners have a hard time figuring out how to rotate their legs to wedge and turn. Many try to squeeze the knees together, tip the ski edge into the snow, push the feet away from each other, pull the legs together, tip the feet on the little toe side, twist the torso, bend the arms and wrists in and lean to one foot. The sooner we can identify these symptoms as attempt to rotate the legs, the sooner we can help them identify the muscles and movement necessary to do it. Then they can wedge and turn and begin to balance between the skis.

Watch for tipping the ski on edge instead of turning the ski and correct it. Your students will think you are a genious, oops! did I spell that right? and did I just give away one aspect of effective beginner class teaching?

post #34 of 36
yesterday was a ski day and we were discussing this post ... we decided that the most relelvent assessment was the "sliding" factor. I learned to ski at age 29 and took right to it despite being in average shape ... I'm strong and take care of myself but carry a few extra pounds.

it never even occurred to me that being a rollerskating kid of the 80s and a rollerblading adult of the 90s leapfrogged me to success on skis. sure I knew it helped, but I never considered the sliding concept in and of itself.

like another poster here ... when teaching never-evers I spent a ton of time on one-legged and gliding exercises. comfort ON SKIs is crucial.
post #35 of 36
Originally Posted by Lisamarie
...Digressing a bit, Jenni, like Madbee's Mexican student was also disturbed about floundering in this situation. This was another area where I had a lot of empathy with her. It's horrifying to be in a class situation with people who have never even seen the lobby of a gym, only to have them show you up badly on the slopes. It could be related to what Skier 31 was talking about, when she said she has people who do nothing at all, but manage to pick up skiing intuitively. Perhaps if they are not that strong, they don't run the risk of over powering their skis. Who knows?
I have often encountered the same thing when teaching adults and children. I prefer teaching females b/c of this: boys/men are taught in our society to "muscle" everything; lots of girls/women are socialized to believe that they are not strong. Fortunately, beginning skiing uses very little actual strength. (A note aside: when I was teaching climbing a couple of decades ago, I was always take beginning male climbers to a climb that would ensure that they would quickly tire their arms out, thus allowing learning to take place dependent on stance and balance [sound familiar??] rather than brute force.)

Originally Posted by Maddog
Snow skiing, water skiing and skating all require a rather unique skill, the ability to functionally balance fore, aft, and side-to-side while sliding. This is apparently so different from walking/running/standing that it requires the brain to be completely reprogrammed. For children this is not a problem. For adults, however, it is and it may be a nearly insurmountable problem.

It is not clear but it seems likely that adults who have no sliding sport experience may never be able to achieve the complete potential they would have had if they had started as a child. The developing brain has specific times when it develops skill sets. If these times are missed it becomes very difficult and often impossible to achieve mastery of the skill set later in life.

That said it is clear that adults can learn to ski and do so fairly well. It takes much longer and requires retraining the brain and the "muscles" to respond naturally to new stimuli. I suspect that "fit" individuals expect they will have an easy time of learning at least until they click in and start skiing.

That is not so clear to me. I both learned to ski as an adult, and have taught several hundred adults in level 1 lessons. I do not find the task insurmontable at all!

Originally Posted by ant
When teaching first timers, I do a LOT of boot and one-ski stuff, because the body takes over from the brain and shows the person how to balance.

Originally Posted by Ron White
I teach beginers all pretty much the same. Checking equipment (esp. boots), focused boot drills with movement, one ski scootering until the fore-aft and lateral balance is achieved and then repeat the boot drills moving on skis. Before the class knows it, they are turning, stopping by turning and linking turns. The fitness level of the indivuals is the only factor on the pace and each can pace the activities to their own level of fitness. It works so well that people are telling me "omg!, I never thought I could do this!"
The success rate for first timers linking turns down the beginner area in an hour and a half is 95% and of those, 75% are skiing from the beginner-novist lift and looking higher up the mountain to novist terrain.

My expectations are walking, climbing and maybe a turn or two, the performance of the group is way beyond that. Even the 5% that arn't linking turns from the top of the beginner area meet my expectations. I feel that each person's performance is directally related to my performance as their teacher (instructor).

The woman in LM's story didn't fail, but her instructor did in that situation.

Ron, just a question: how do you manage to accomplish lots of boot work and one-ski drills when you have just an hour and a half?

Originally Posted by Lisamarie
...In this case, her instructor just said to her, "What the heck is that position you're in?" I guess she was not pleased.
And no one should be pleased about that type of comment, either.

Originally Posted by madbee
I have learned from teaching kids that they really like and need specific positive feedback to continue making progress. It sounds simple but sometimes the kids doing the wrong things get all the attention. Last week I was working with a student who hasn't been in the U.S. that long but always tries hard and has excellent work habits. You must have been a very good student in Mexico, I told him because of the way he does his work. He glowed because as an honor student in another country it is even harder for him to flounder here. Maybe that instructor could have made a positive comment about the woman without making her feel like she was failing.
In PSIA Rocky Mountain Division, we have a clinic on Strength Based Learning. One of the goals of SBL is a positive approach to learning; that is, build on the students' strengths, not on weaknesses. We try to apply this approach even to the things the students never should hear, such our MA of their skiing.
post #36 of 36

Ron, just a question: how do you manage to accomplish lots of boot work and one-ski drills when you have just an hour and a half?
Very easy, once boots are checked, we are moving constantly and never line-up and stop the class while I "bla, bla, bla" I talk while we are moving through the boot drill, put on the ski and talk a little while I show the binding opertion (a rest for the class), then do scootering on each ski, I talk and give the task in the mists of scootering, one balance is learned while scootering, it is 2 skis on and the boot drill is repeated while the class is moving and I talk. No one is given a chance to stand there and do nothing, so no wasted time until linked turns are done, and then it is time to skate to the majic carpet. The only break in the lesson is riding the lift, and then after the class is assembled at the top of the beginner hill, it is back to business, garland stops in both directions and linked turns back to the lift. Whew! one hour and 15 minutes with no standing sideways waiting for their turn to go. Once linked turns are developed, it is time to go to the beginner chair lift and then skiing it, so about 1 hr. and 45 minutes in all. It is a very energetic type of lesson and I demo everything many times and give individual help when needed (often).

The results are absolutly dramatic and it is fun to do. On a busy weekend or holiday, I only need about a 20' X20' area to progress to linked turns, and then it is to the majic carpet and ski the whole beginner area. This progression for beginners that I have developed in now our company line for all instructors to follow. Hope this explains how I can do it in the time period of roughly 1 1/2 hours.

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