5 reasons why ice skating is the best winter training


Six years ago, in the middle of winter, my husband and I moved into a lakeside house in the Catskills. Prior to purchasing it, we had visited the 1970s structure and toured the property, but made a bet on the lake, which was covered in five feet of snow on our first night as owners. When it finally thawed in the spring, we were relieved to find that the water was over 14 feet deep and we spent our first summer there leisurely sailing, swimming and taking photos on swan floats. . But it wasn’t until the lake froze again that winter that we discovered the house’s biggest selling point: we now owned our own ice rink. It had been almost two decades since my last childhood figure skating lessons, and my skills – and my skates – were a little rusty. But in addition to evoking a wave of nostalgia for Tonya and Nancy at the 1994 Winter Olympics (and Margot in 2017 me, Tonya), sliding across the glassy surface bordered by a ring of tall pines as deer rustle in the distance has become a weekend workout with more motivational potential than, say, put on a mask and drive 55 minutes to the nearest elliptical machine.

A small investigation confirmed that skating also has great potential for sculpting the body. “It has cardiovascular benefits as it trains both your aerobic and anaerobic systems, and it’s a fantastic overall body challenge for your core, balance, coordination, and posterior chain,” said Peter Zapalo, Director of Science and sports medicine for American Figure Skating. “Also: the skaters have great buttocks,” he said deadpan. “But what’s really cool is that [the sport] trains total body proprioception – the ability to sense your own body’s position, movement and balance, ”which also means better balance and better grace off the ice.

Recording laps was certainly not my main concern when I first hit the lake this season. After I acclimatized to the freezing outside temperatures, it became very clear that my own proprioception was somewhat extinct; ditto my endurance. “Start by warming up with moves off the ice,” Zapalo suggests when I plug him in for workout tips. Her recommendations include lunges, high strides, “dynamic kicks” and improving your balance by standing on one foot while brushing your teeth, alternating 30 seconds on each side. When you finally get on the ice, it’s best to stay at a brisk pace for maximum cardio benefits, Zapalo explains; then start a few sprints if your body is ready for it. “It’s like running or cycling: you have to maintain a constant ‘workload’ and as you improve your technical skills you will be able to ride longer and skate better. “

For those who are serious about honing their skills or who don’t live near a lake safe for skating, most local rinks, many of which are open and follow strict CDC guidelines, offer skating lessons and hours. open. There are also countless how-to videos on YouTube and the US Figure Skating Learn To Skate website. Renamed and revamped a few years ago to include information and practical advice for figure skating, hockey and speed skating, the site will tell you where to find an ice rink near you, has downloadable PDF files describing various movements. and the accompanying app is loaded with step-by-step workout guides and how-to videos to illustrate exactly how to do this forward slalom correctly.

The “Adult Beginner” PDF I downloaded was a godsend as I tried to work on my “swizzles” and “wiggles”. As I glided my instability eased and I start to lengthen my strides like a champ – maybe not quite Kristi Yamaguchi or Oksana Baiul – caliber, but I’m getting better every day. Zapalo’s cooldown suggestions are also particularly helpful. “If your body isn’t used to skating, you want to take some extra time for passive stretching when you get off the ice – and don’t forget about the recovery nutrition,” he says, revealing the post drink. – training of choice for competition. skaters: 8 ounces of organic chocolate milk at 1% fat. “It’s the perfect ratio between carbohydrates and protein! “

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