The Snowshoer’s Guide to Staying Fit in the Off-Season

It is seemingly evident that snowshoe enthusiasts share a love of the great outdoors.   Who else would leap from a cozy, comfortable couch and go for a walk in cold and blustery winter conditions?  As wintertime offers variable snow conditions that capture our interest and attention, spring and summer are also a unique time to go out and explore what the melting snow reveals.  Big changes are taking place everywhere you look.  Buds are popping out on tree limbs, tiny flowers start to bloom and water and mud abound.  Weather oscillates between rain and sun with resilient gale force winds that blow us into summer.

The end of the season doesn’t have to be a bummer for those hooked on winter sports.  When a blanket of white is exchanged for budding green grass, the snowshoes may have to be put up, but the body yearns to keep playing outside.  We don’t have to let our fitness disappear like the last visible snow pile that vanishes before our eyes.

Revisiting our favorite snowshoe stomping grounds in the spring or summer can be just as challenging to our fitness and stamina as punching through deep snow in the middle of winter.  By utilizing the natural resources we come across on our snowless adventure, it is possible to maintain the intensity of snowshoeing (sans snow), and have just as much fun!

The following workout is comprised of gratifying and effective exercises using rock slabs, fallen logs and fences.  There is no need to give up being fit just because our healthy snowshoeing habits are on a hiatus.  Springtime is a great time to keep up our amazing winter work and stay ahead of the fitness curve while experiencing the change in seasons.

#1 Knee Lifts

After hiking or running for at least ten minutes, find a fallen log about knee-high in height.  Place one foot on top of the log with your knee bent no deeper than a 90-degree angle.  If the log is too high, find a different log.  When you are ready, step up onto the log and raise the opposite knee.  Lower down slowly, switch the lead leg and continue to alternate for up to one minute.  To further challenge your endurance, repeat on the same leg for 15 to 20 repetitions, then switch.

#2 Puddle Hops

Puddles do not have to be a bane for your spring day stroll in the sun.  Find one about one to two feet in width and have fun jumping side to side over the puddle!  Make sure you bend both knees equally and keep your feet parallel, hip width apart.  Jump for up to one minute for a challenging cardio blast and boost in leg power.

#3 Tricep Dips

To maintain or develop upper body strength, find a flat rock or ledge at least one foot high or higher.  With your back to the rock, place both hands on the edge, shoulder width apart, fingers facing forward.  Bend both knees, or to make these tricep dips more challenging, extend one leg and hold it up or straighten both legs with heels on the ground.  Bend your elbows no deeper than a 90-degree angle and then push back up to straighten your arms.  Repeat for up to 15 repetitions for one or two sets.

#4 Intervals/Power Lunges

Interval training is a superb way to rev up cardiovascular fitness.  Many methods of this type of training can be incorporated, as the general guideline is to bring your heart rate up to a high level (on an effort scale of one to ten, be about an eight) for a short amount of time, recover in twice that time and then do it all over again.  Hill running, sprinting or performing power lunges and squats will suffice.

Begin by stepping onto a rock or a secure fallen log, no higher than knee height.   Lean forward slightly, bend the lead knee, and lunge back to lightly tap the other foot back down to the ground.  In a rapid-fire pace, hop to switch the lead foot.  Repeat this action for up to one minute, taking two minutes to recover before doing it again.

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About the author


Jill Lawson

Jill Lawson, M.Ed. is a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer from Dolores, Colo. She enjoys snowshoeing and cross-country skiing with her husband and three Labradors. She has been teaching yoga and fitness for nearly 20 years and her classes include Core Yoga, Ski Yoga, Yoga for Golfers and Pilates.