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When folks find out I ski, hike, and other outdoor stuff, they say, “Wow, I wish I could be that athletic.” Here’s my secret, I’m not athletic. It took months for me to get up on water skis. My triathlon swims end with me in last place. The first season I skied, I tipped over standing still. Here are a few tips to get you out there.
Embrace Looking Stupid: Sometimes we as adults aren’t willing to look stupid or silly. We hold on much too tightly to our dignity. I can’t go the gym, we think, all the in-shape people will judge me. I’ll look dumb doing that race at a walk. Five-year-olds will pass me skiing.
So what, dignity is overrated. I powered down the hill in a huge wedge my first ski season as every stupid little kid shot by me. I resisted the urge to trip them with my pole and now I pass them, ha!
Embrace Falling: When I went paddle boarding for the first time, I was nervous about falling. Totally ridiculous as I was four inches above the water. I finally fell on purpose to get the worry out of my mind. The first thought I had when I fell biking with clip-in pedals was, wow, that didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. Falling (or messing up) is inevitable so get it out of the way first and you can enjoy your experience.
Get a Lesson or Find a Group: I teach adult women to ski who thought they hated to ski. Why? Their husbands had dragged them up a mountain and gave the minimum of instruction before ditching them to go show off. Once they got in a class with others at their level and a teacher who was patient, they finally started to enjoy themselves.
Get the Right Gear: Nobody really loves the cold. But us lovers of winter have acquired the coats, pants, even electric boot warmers to overcome most cold days. Yep, I sucked my first season skiing. Turned out my skis were twenty-year-old race skis (purchased at a garage sale) that no beginner should’ve been on. Turn to the classifieds to find stuff cheaper. Places like REI rent a surprisingly amount of gear as you learn what you like and what you need.
Embrace Risk: Fear of injury is a valid concern. I fully expect one day my knees will have to be rebuilt (already have one new ACL, which I blew out getting off a lift) but I’ve accepted this as the price I pay. However, usually when I meet people with injuries, they’ve acquired them doing something stupid (see above): taking out the garbage, running between rides at Lagoon, heck, I’ve fallen harder at work on three steps than any ski slope. Injuries may happen but being athletic actually makes them less likely in your day-to-day life. And if you do get injured, better to be doing something cool and have a story to tell then having to say you fell off the toilet.
At the age of sixty, my mom learned to ski. She’s done it a few times over the years but never really picked it up. Her first day, she wore herself out on the conveyor belts before we even got on a lift. When she took off her helmet at lunch, her hair was matted with sweat and she had a total ski head. I’ve never been prouder. The first time I took her on a large hill, she had an awkward cartwheel fall and managed to give herself a black eye with her eye glasses. I thought she might give up, but she just bought contacts. She usually hates the cold but last year she cussed the warm March temps for melting the snow. I told her she was officially a skier.
You don’t have to be naturally gifted or talented to do something new. You just have to want to do it.
For an outdoor adventure without ever having to get outside, check out the Lost Gorge Mystery series!
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