The six-week bell |

The six-week bell

Paul E. Anna

It’s time to toughen up.While it may seem hard to believe, time is marching on, the world is tipping to the north, and the winds of winter are gathering as storms in the Bering Sea. Yes, in a scant 42 days, that’s just six weeks from today, ski season will officially open here in Aspen.Those in the know, know it is just enough time – barely – to start getting in shape in one of the ski-conditioning classes that have begun to heat up around the valley. Get ready to strengthen quads, tighten abs, stretch backs and, in general, get leaner, meaner and stronger to face the days of powder and ice that lie just ahead.In general, we are a pretty healthy lot here in Aspen. Biking, hiking and playing in the sun all summer long is standard practice. But being in shape to ski and board requires us to use different sets of muscles. Once you begin a class, the first few minutes is all you’ll need to feel how the power you had last March after a full season of skimming down the slopes has been diminished and degraded.The current issue of Ski magazine (the one that ranks Snowmass No. 3, Aspen No. 4 and Aspen Highlands No. 11 in the hierarchy of North American ski resorts) has a six-page section that outlines how the U.S. Ski Team measures the fitness level of its athletes. The racers are given a range of tests to gage flexibility, core function, strength and power and anaerobic capacity. The article shows you how to take the same test as is given to the team and how to measure your own fitness levels. Try it now and then try it again in six weeks after you are conditioned to get a feel for the improvement in your performance.Of course, those who go to the Aspen Club to take the thrice-a-week ski-conditioning classes offered by Amy and Asia will not need to take any tests to know they have improved. These hell-on-earth classes may be the most comprehensive and pain-inducing of any found in any ski town. The mat Pilates for skiers classes at O2, which Kate leads on Tuesdays and Thursdays, will help you strengthen your core and get you ready to feel strong on opening day.The Red Brick is also beginning a ski-conditioning class today at 1 p.m. and will offer a second on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. You can also use the weight and cardio rooms at the Aspen Rec. Center to kick-start your season if you aren’t a class-joining kind of person.It really doesn’t matter where you choose to get in shape. What matters is the time to do it is now.

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