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Style: Folsom | El Dorado Hills

Work it Out(side): Your Guide to Winter Sports

Nov 20, 2018 10:27AM

Even if the temperature is low, you don’t have to move your workout indoors. Whether you stay in town or drive to the mountains, our area offers an array of fun winter activities that double as great workouts, from skiing and snowboarding to ice-skating and even curling.

Jason Collin, a physical therapist at the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness as well as a winter sports enthusiast, says: “Studies show that spending time outside, in nature, reduces stress levels, helps balance metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and creates a better workout.” Collin adds, “For all activities, remember that cold temperatures can cause your body to lose heat faster than your body can produce it. As you head outside, always dress properly, stay hydrated, know your surroundings, and use common sense.” Grab your skies, ice skates, or a sled, and have a (snow)ball this season!

1) ICE-SKATING

BENEFITS/CALORIES BURNED: Brian Jackson, owner of the Folsom Historic District Ice Rink, says you can burn 250-670 calories ice-skating for 30 minutes, though it depends on how much you weigh and how fast you’re skating. “Ice-skating is a great way to increase your cardio while having fun gliding on the ice and listening to music,” he says. “You’ll improve your balance as well, so don’t be surprised if you feel it in your thighs, lower back, and stomach muscles.”

TRY IT: Folsom Historic District Ice Rink (200 Wool Street, Folsom, 916-936-4410, folsomicerink.com); Skatetown Ice Arena (1009 Orlando Avenue, Roseville, 916-783-8550, skatetown.biz)

BEGINNER TIP: “If you’re a beginner, there are some balance techniques that can be practiced at home or school, such as standing on one foot while doing tasks such as preparing dinner or talking to your friends. Do this for as long as you can before switching feet and as often as you can before skating. While you might look a little silly, who will have the last laugh when skating?” Jackson says. 


2) CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Photo courtesy of The Abbi Agency

BENEFITS/CALORIES BURNED: Alpenglow Sports staffer Janice Pilkington says cross-country skiing (also known as Nordic skiing) is one of the best aerobic activities you can do. It’s an endurance sport that’s good for the heart and lungs, similar to running or cycling. It can burn 500-1,000 calories per hour, depending on whether the trail is flat or uphill.

TRY IT: Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area (925 Country Club Drive, Tahoe City, 530-583-5475, tahoexc.org); Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort (9411 Pahatsi Road, Soda Springs, 530-426-3871, royalgorge.com)

BEGINNER TIP: “Even if you’re an avid downhill skier, don’t expect to be a great cross-country skier. Soft boots and edgeless skis provide a challenge for all first-timers. When in doubt, hire an instructor,” says Sean Kristl, director of sales and marketing at Alpenglow Expeditions.


3) DOWNHILL SKIING

Photo courtesy of The Abbi Agency

BENEFITS/CALORIES BURNED: Skiing improves your strength and balance, Pilkington says. “When you do longer runs without stopping, you’ll also notice that you’re a bit out of breath,” she says. “If you choose to be really adventurous and go backcountry skiing—where you put climbing skins on your skis and go uphill outside the resorts under your own power—you’ll get a great aerobic workout.” Kristl adds that downhill skiing builds leg muscles and core strength, and you can burn 300-500 calories in an hour, depending on the intensity. “Powder-skiing will burn more calories; groomed skiing will burn less,” he says.

TRY IT: Sierra-at-Tahoe (1111 Sierra-at-Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, 530-659-7453, sierraattahoe.com); Sugar Bowl Resort (629 Sugar Bowl Road, Norden, 530-426-9000, sugarbowl.com); Northstar California (5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, 530-562-2267, northstarcalifornia.com); Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows (1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, 800-403-0206, squawalpine.com); Heavenly Mountain Resort (4080 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe, 775-586-7000, skiheavenly.com); Kirkwood Mountain Resort (1501 Kirkwood Meadows Drive, Kirkwood, 209-258-6000, kirkwood.com)

BEGINNER TIP: Pilkington recommends, newcomers take advantage of [a resort's] packages that [typically] include lift tickets with rentals and lessons. “The resorts offer them at discounts because they want you to come back and know your experience will be better if you take a lesson and have good equipment.”


4) SNOWSHOEING 

Photo by Jeff Dow, courtesy of Barton Health

BENEFITS/CALORIES BURNED: “Similar to hiking or running, snowshoeing is a fantastic cardiovascular workout. Deeper snow makes it more difficult and a harder workout, while sturdy snow underfoot makes it drastically easier,” Kristl says. Depending on pace and snow type, a snowshoer can burn between 500-1,000 calories per hour. 

TRY IT: California Sno-Parks, including Donner Summit (near Truckee off I-80), Blackwood Canyon (near Tahoe City off Highway 89), Carson Pass (off Highway 88), Echo Lake (off Highway 50), Iron Mountain (off Highway 88 near Kirkwood ski area), Lake Alpine (off Highway 4), Meiss Meadow (off Highway 88 near Carson Pass), Spicer Reservoir (off Highway 4), Taylor Creek (off Highway 89 near Fallen Leaf Lake), and Yuba Pass (off Highway 49)

BEGINNER TIP: “Hiking boots with a pair of warm wool socks work well for footwear. Snowshoes come in a variety of sizes and materials. The bigger you are, the bigger the surface area you need to keep you from sinking. Also, deeper/softer snow requires a bigger snowshoe,” Pilkington says. “Going out in deep, untracked snow is very physically demanding. Most people try to find a trail that’s been groomed at a Nordic skiing center or a packed snowmobile trail.”


5) SNOWBOARDING

photo courtesy of Northstar California

BENEFITS/CALORIES BURNED: Nadia Guerriero, vice president and general manager at Northstar California, says snowboarding, like skiing, is a full-body activity, which means doing it requires feeling the position of different body parts and having an awareness of the effort that goes into moving those parts. It can burn between 300-600 calories an hour, depending on how hard you work.

TRY IT: Sierra-at-Tahoe (1111 Sierra-At-Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, 530-659-7453, sierraattahoe.com); Sugar Bowl Resort (629 Sugar Bowl Road, Norden, 530-426-9000, sugarbowl.com); Northstar California (5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, 530-562-2267, northstarcalifornia.com); Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows (1960 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley, 800-403-0206, squawalpine.com); Heavenly Mountain Resort (4080 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, South Lake Tahoe, 775-586-7000, skiheavenly.com); Kirkwood Mountain Resort (1501 Kirkwood Meadows Drive, Kirkwood, 209-258-6000, kirkwood.com)

BEGINNER TIP: Have a professional coach you, Guerriero says. “Join a small group or private lesson from a certified instructor to learn the basics. Not only will this save you time, frustration, and a strained relationship, but you’ll also feel accomplished and confident on the mountain.” She also says to drink water, as many first-timers aren’t acclimated to performing physical activity at a higher elevation. “Water is the key to helping your body get used to the altitude and have a great day on the mountain.” 


6) SLEDDING

BENEFITS/CALORIES BURNED: “Sledding is fun,” Collin says. “It doesn’t require fancy or expensive equipment, making it more accessible and affordable. Plus, the walk up that hill each time is good for your legs and your heart.” Sledding for 30 minutes on a medium-sized hill burns about 240 calories.

TRY IT: California Sno-Parks, including Donner Summit (near Truckee off I-80), Blackwood Canyon (near Tahoe City off Highway 89), Carson Pass (off Highway 88), Echo Lake (off Highway 50), Iron Mountain (off Highway 88 near Kirkwood ski area), Lake Alpine (off Highway 4), Meiss Meadow (off Highway 88 near Carson Pass), Spicer Reservoir (off Highway 4), Taylor Creek (off Highway 89 near Fallen Leaf Lake), and Yuba Pass (off Highway 49)

BEGINNER TIP: “Sledding has risks that aren’t always obvious,” he warns. “It’s important to check out the environment before sledding, because sleds pick up speed quickly and don’t steer well. Look for any obstacles, such as trees, rocks, and people. If possible, sled at a resort where an appropriate sledding slope has been identified.”


7) ICE HOCKEY 

photo courtesy of Skatetown Ice Arena

BENEFITS/CALORIES BURNED: Susan Sweetser, a spokesperson at Skatetown Ice Arena, says ice hockey develops endurance and the cardiovascular system, boosts metabolism, is a full-body workout, enhances muscular strength, develops hand-eye coordination, improves body coordination and balance, develops social skills and the spirit of team work, improves communication, and boosts brain and mental acuity. Calories burned can depend on how much you weigh, how fast you move, and how hard you play. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you can burn approximately 285 calories in 30 minutes.

TRY IT: Folsom Historic District Ice Rink (200 Wool Street, Folsom, 916-936-4410, folsomicerink.com); Skatetown Ice Arena (1009 Orlando Avenue, Roseville, 916-783-8550, skatetown.biz)

BEGINNER TIP: Ryan Frisch, a local hockey player, shares three tips to those interested in picking up the sport. “Make sure to invest in a good-fitting pair of skates—they don’t need to be top-of-the-line, but go to a pro shop and have them fit you properly. Second, join a ‘learn-to-play’ hockey class at a local rink—this is a low-pressure way to learn the game with others in the same situation. And third, play as much as you can. There are drop-in pickup sessions and skill sessions offered where you can fine-tune your skating and your skills.”


8) Curling

photo courtesy of Skatetown Ice Arena

BENEFITS/CALORIES BURNED: Sweetser says curling is an aerobic workout, increasing your heart rate and improving the cardiovascular system. “You can put on about two miles walking up and down the ice during a game,” she says. “Plus, the sweeping motion involved in directing the rock increases heart rate and improves your cardiovascular system.” It also strengthens your muscles, improves flexibility, and can be done by anyone. Curling burns a lot of calories—356 calories an hour for an average man and 304 for a woman—yet because you’re playing on ice, you don’t perspire as much, she says. 

TRY IT: Skatetown Ice Arena (1009 Orlando Avenue, Roseville, 916-783-8550, skatetown.biz)

BEGINNER TIP: “Start at a learn-to-curl clinic (the Wine Country Curling Club hosts them year-round) where you’ll get an overview of the game, etiquette and on-ice safety, learn delivery basics and sweeping, and play a short game (if time and space permit),” she says.  


by Kourtney Jason  


Snowboarding photo courtesy of Northstar California. Other photos courtesy of Skatetown Ice Arena. Cross-country and downhill skiing photos courtesy of The Abbi Agency. Showshoeing photo by Jeff Dow, courtesy of Barton Health.  Snowshoeing photo by Chris Bartkowski. Ice-skating photo courtesy of the Folsom Historic District Ice Rink.

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