3. Tell your Friends and Family They Won’t Be Teaching You
A lot of adults learn on holidays organised by friends and/or family who can already ski. If you are one of them, then don’t, don’t, DON’T let them be your ski instructors. Pretty soon, they’ll get bored of teaching you the basics and drag you to the top of a vertiginous slope with the dread words, “you’ll be fine”. If you don’t actually hurt yourself, you’ll be so freaked out by the experience you probably won’t want to leave the chalet again until the transfer bus comes to take you back to the airport.
The only way to learn is to book yourself into ski school. The luxury option is to have private classes. Some people will find the unremitting focus on them (and their mistakes) claustrophobic. But most thrive on this kind of attention and make rapid progress.
The cost of private lessons can, however, be astronomical (especially in the A-list French resorts, although private tuition in Italian resorts is notably cheaper). The cheaper option is to join a five- or six-day course of group lessons, with classes in the morning and free time after lunch to practise what you have learnt. You should enrol for the course at the same time as you book your holiday, but don’t just blindly book the ski school offered by your tour operator.
Check first to see if there’s a British ski school in your resort. Oh, and don’t forget to take out specialist ski insurance.
4. Get Fit
The last thing you want is to spend hundreds of pounds on a ski holiday, only to find you are too tired to get out of bed on the third morning of the trip. Taken in isolation, the snowplough – the classic beginner’s manoeuvre – is not demanding. But it is if you practise it over and over again for six hours a day, at altitude, for an entire week. The only way to make sure you have the energy – both physical and mental – to enjoy the experience is get in shape long before you hit the slopes.
Non gym-bunnies, don’t panic. There are lots of ways to get your heart rate up and strengthen those leg muscles in your every day routine: take the stairs instead of lifts or escalators; cycle or power walk to work instead of driving; when eating your morning porridge, swap the breakfast table for a spot against your living room wall – press your back flat against the wall, and holding the position with your legs bent at 90 degrees (“bend ze knees!”), see how long you can stay there. (If it’s less than 10 seconds, well, you need to climb more stairs.)
If you are serious about building your ski fitness, we’ve got a great fitness plan for that. I recommend that you start working out 12 weeks before the beginning of your holiday.