Category Archives: Golf and Skiing

Is Tiger Woods’ back injury the result of his training?

An article on Yahoo Sports today quotes Tiger Woods’ caddy suggesting his injuries have been because of his dedication to gym work: “I guess when [Tiger] looks back, he might question some of the activities that he did, some of the gym work that he might have done that, you know, had all these injuries escalate“. I suppose that’s possible, but is it likely?

Maybe it is more likely that this level of injury is normal for someone who has golfed for hours each day for 38 years? The 40 year old Tiger was doing the talk show tour showing off his golf skills when he was 2. In golf age, he is much older than 40. Is this perhaps a sign that early specialization eventually takes its toll, even on the exceptions who make it big?

Maybe there is something about his swing that makes him both excellent but also vulnerable? There’s a theory in the golf rehab world that his current back problems stem from a 2008 post-knee surgery swing change. Elite performance can come at a price to the body.

Maybe it is because he is in his 40s. According to this Golf Channel article, “Less than 10 percent – just 20 of 216 – of all majors were won by players 40 and over. It does happen, especially at the British Open (the last three British Open champions were all 40-somethings). But since 2000, only one golfer – 41-year-old Vijay Singh – has won a Masters, U.S. Open or PGA Championship.

Anything is possible, and thus it is possible that Tiger Woods’ back woes are the result of his training. But the limited body of evidence related to training and golf suggests otherwise. A Sports Health review of the scientific literature on golf injuries notes that “the majority of injuries sustained by professional golfers relate to overuse“, and that “simple modifications reduce the incidence of injuries, such as using a bag cart and performing a 10-minute warm-up before game play. Other studies have identified that increased hip flexibility can be helpful as well. Additional factors that increase the risk of sustaining a sports-related injury include decreased static trunk strength, delay in trunk muscle recruitment, and limited trunk endurance.

Given the body of evidence on training and golf, and the statistics on golf performance and aging, the more likely scenario is that the caddy is wrong.

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa who is not a huge fan of people making unsubstantiated (and likely untrue) statements in the media.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for my (non-spammy) newsletter

* indicates required

Email Format

Bear Crawl as an exercise?

I just read this great post from Tony Gentilcore about bear crawls. It piqued my interest because it’s an exercise I love to use with my clients (so busted for seeking out articles that support my bias). He lists some great reasons for people to do them, but I wanted to elaborate on one: motor learning (the first reason #2 that he lists).

I have used bear crawls for a long time, but became especially interested in them a few years ago after reading this article written by physical therapist John D’Amico. John works with a lot of golfers in Florida, and has developed an interest in “accessing the nervous system through manual therapy and exercise as a means to attaining better mobility in my middle-aged to senior golf fitness clients.” So he did a little test:

  • Did initial range of motion tests on 10 male golfers (average age 68)
  • Taught them how to do a standing cross-crawl pattern
  • Had them perform 20 repetitions of the standing cross-crawl pattern five times per day
  • Re-tested range of motion on the same joints three days later

Here is a video of what his clients did:

He saw impressive improvements in great toe dorsiflexion, ankle dorsiflexion, hip extension, hip internal rotation, and hip flexion. From standing in place lifting up the opposite arm and leg. Huh. Give John’s article a read for the full results as well as his discussion.

I had previously used bear crawls as part of our warm-up when I coached the Ottawa Junior ultimate team, and I remember being surprised at how difficult the crawl movement pattern was for many of the kids. These were skilled teenage athletes, but many of them initially had a very hard time moving opposite arm and leg at the same time. It was as though their body didn’t know how to do it. Before seeing John’s post, I had read about benefits from acquiring a lost cross crawl pattern, although nothing with much scientific merit. In other words cool theories but not backed up by much. John’s post isn’t hard science either, but in my opinion, it is compelling. And given how little time it takes and how many other benefits there are (as Tony notes), bear crawling as an exercise is kind of a no-brainer.

If you’re interested in trying them, take a look at this great demonstration video by Joe Bonyai. He includes forward/reverse bear crawls as well as a stationary bear crawl with hold, which he refers to as “bear paws”.

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa Canada whose gym has a Bear Crossing sign posted.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for my (non-spammy) newsletter

* indicates required

Email Format

Can’t go left?

Nope, not a blog about Seinfeld, although I do wish I had a video clip of this:

“Every time he tries to make a move, something screws up. Like on their first date, they were on the couch, but she was sitting on his wrong side.”
“Wrong side?”
“Yes, she was on his right side. He can’t make a move with his left hand. Can’t go left.”
“He can’t go left?”
“No. I’m leftie, can’t go right. What about women? Do they go left or right?”
“No, we just play defense.”
- Jerry and Elaine, in “The Implant”

Taking this concept out of the dating realm and into the hills, one of the biggest problems I saw when teaching intermediate and advanced skiers was a greater difficulty to turn one direction over the other. We typically tried to fix this problem with skiing drills on the snow, to varying degrees of success. Here’s the problem with that approach: odds are the problem still remains when you take your skis off.

If only I had addressed that strength difference...
If only I had addressed that strength difference…

I say this with a degree of confidence based on the number of different people I have worked with as a personal trainer. When I first meet a new client, I have them perform a series of movements so I can see how well they move, whether there are areas that will need extra attention, and if there are movements where we’ll need to tread lightly for a while. I also can see if there are differences in any of the movements from side to side. As it turns out, most people are not symmetrical in their movement.

In fact 83% of the people I screened had at least one movement pattern where they was a noticeable difference between left and right. (Here’s the full result for anyone who is interested). This is while standing on flat ground, either barefoot or in shoes. What if the asymmetry in your turns is not related to how you ski, but to how your body moves? If that is the case then are you really going to have the most success addressing it on snow? Or will you see better results if you try to address it on land?

If you have a harder time turning to one side, try the exercises shown in the following series of short videos. The first is an introduction, and the next four each provide specific exercises that you can try at home. They address strength and stability in your hips and legs. Give these a try for a few weeks and then see if that one direction on snow feels easier. If it does, then consider adding these movements once or twice a week for maintenance.


Exercise #1: Standing hip rotation

Exercise #2: Band hip rotations

Exercise #3: Single leg squat

Exercise #4: Reverse lunge with rotation

Lastly, do you warm up before skiing with anything other than a cruiser run? If not, give this warmup a try. You can do it on snow, it only takes a few minutes, and it gives your body a nice bit of preparation for the fun you’re about to have.

Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer and former ski instructor in Ottawa.

Do you enjoy these posts? If so, sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss any. We send it out as a summary email every few posts.

* indicates required

Ski Season.Is.Coming.Soon. Are You Ready?

September is a funny month. It gets darker earlier, leaves start changing colours, and here is less and less produce available at the local farmer’s market. The funny part is the divide: Those of us for whom this elicits excitement about the snow that will soon follow; and those of you who are depressed about it.

If you’re in the depressed category, my condolences. It’s going to be a (hopefully) long and snowy winter, and it’s going to suck without having an awesome way to enjoy it. If you’re hoping this not-the-most-sincere-condolence is followed by some great advice on how to cope, well, sorry again. Take up skiing?

Now for the rest of us. Woohoo! Okay, so who’s buying new gear this year? Boots? Jacket? Skis? Have you picked it out yet? What about ski trip plans? West? Europe? I hear skiing in Japan is amazing! I’m in the market for skis and cannot wait to get them. Thinking about the Salomon X Race, although I’m torn. They rip on the hard stuff, but they’re not exactly dainty in the bumps, although they manage.

Now that I’ve got you excited about skiing and gear talk, I’m going to go for a little bait and switch here. (cue wa waaahhh sound). Any plans to prep your body for ski season? You have to admit that it’s a bit odd that we spend so much time and money researching and buying new gear, but many of us barely put a moments thought or effort into prepping the one piece of equipment that we don’t have the luxury of replacing. It’s true we can replace some of the parts, but unlike skis, the 2018 model of a hip or knee joint is nowhere near as good as the one that came with your body. Or I should say – nowhere near as good as it was when it still worked well. Joint replacements, and surgeries can work wonders for worn out joints. But what if we put some time and effort into joint maintenance before throwing them to the steeps, the deeps, the ice, and the bumps?

Most of us would never think of starting our first day on an un-tuned ski, but we’ll go with an un-tuned body. And the craziest thing about that is that a tuned body can enhance our ability to enjoy skiing much more than a new ski will. Okay, if your skis are really old, maybe equally so.

Seriously snow-lovers: add body tune-up to your pre-season plan. The morning after your first day on snow, you’ll be happy you did.

Wondering what you need to work on? Check out this clip from a presentation I gave at the Ottawa Ski Show:

If you live in Ottawa and you’re looking for an option to get you fit for skiing, consider coming and training with us at Custom Strength. In the wise words of Warren Miller, “If you don’t start now, you’ll be a year older when you do.” Admittedly that sounds cooler when talking about amazing ski destinations, but enjoying the first day on snow without your quads feeling like lumps of cement is pretty cool.

For those of you who live elsewhere, join a gym, and either find a great trainer or consider picking up my 12 week Ski Training ebook.

Now back to the fun stuff. Let’s hear what you’re buying, and of course, feel free to share your favourite ski porn in the comments section. Here’s my perennial favourite:


JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.


Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer and former ski instructor who is eagerly waiting for ski season to start.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for my (non-spammy) newsletter

* indicates required

Email Format

Skiing and knee injuries: can you train for them?

The following video is a clip from a presentation I gave at the Ottawa Ski Show two years ago about training for skiing. I’ll be sharing a few more clips on topics related to training for skiing over the next few weeks.  Each one is less than 5 minutes (I think – or close to), and covers a topic related to skiing and training.

I’ll post videos about the following over the next few weeks:

Want to make sure you don’t miss any? Subscribe to the RSS feed or like the Custom Strength Facebook page as I’ll share all of the links there after posting.

Want to actually be in shape before you strap on your skis this year? My Fitness For Skiers ebook will do just that. Well, technically the book won’t get you in shape. You’ll get yourself in shape if you follow the program in the book.

ebook cover

Elsbeth Vaino is a ski instructor and personal trainer in Canada who believes skiing makes winter.

Ski trip musings

1. How much should you eat? It is tough to know how much to eat on an active vacation, like a ski trip. 5 to 6 hours a day of skiing is a lot. Because I’m an exercise and nutrition geek, I read stuff about it. I recently came across an interesting read about carb backloading and thought I would try it – yes, during my ski vacation. It went well on day 1 but by day 2, I realized holding back on carbs during 6 hours of skiing steeps and bumps was probably unwise. Day 3 thanked me for my return to sanity (and daytime carbs), and rewarded me with being able to ski big long bump runs without stopping, even at the end of the day. I still don’t have an answer to how much you should eat on a ski trip, except to say that it will depend a lot on how you ski and how long. Truthfully your best bet is probably to just not worry about it. If you overdo it, you can back off next week; if you find yourself lacking energy on the snow, eat a bit more.

2. Rest is for the wicked? Until midway through my ski trip, I was seriously thinking I might do 6 or 7 days in a row on snow. Even when I woke up feeling a little off, I still almost went. But clear heads prevailed, and I took a day of rest. I was feeling a bit under the weather (there was a bug going around the house), so that helped with the decision. Strangely I felt like a small part of me died when I stayed in instead of skiing. Especially since there was new snow for me to turn in. But personal trainer me was very proud of the mature decision. And skier me should be thrilled with the reams of energy for the days that followed.

3. The hot tub debate. It used to go without saying that a post-ski hot tub was essential. But these days ice baths are the new it thing to do. They help slow inflammation, unlike heat, which encourages it. Or so the current wisdom goes. Maybe I should be taking an ice bath instead, but really? I spent the whole day on snow, and now I’m going to take an ice bath? Um, no. As it turns out, I am not sold on the anti hot tub science. Experience tells me otherwise: I always hot tub on ski vacations, and I typically have legs that feel great for multiple days in a row. This certainly has something to do with keeping fit, and probably is affected by my pre-ski dynamic warmup, and my post-ski foam roll and stretching ritual.

But I think the hot tub helps. In theory it helps drag the toxic crap out of my muscles (formerly thought to be lactic acid), which is a good thing. Now here’s my other thought: what if a bit of inflammation in my muscles isn’t actually a bad thing? Inflammation is part of the healing process. Too much is probably going to slow me down, but what if a little just helps with recovery? What does science say? It does’t really, although theories abound. I love science, so I will keep watch on what comes up in the research journals, but until there is more, I am heading to the hot tub. Now if I was a germaphobe, the petri dish element of the hot tub would probably keep me out, but thankfully I’m not.

4.  This Stupid Sexy Flanders clip makes me laugh.

5. Do you need vacations? I know many people who say they don’t take vacation because they love their job and therefore they don’t need vacation. I call these people delusional. You do need vacation. Everybody does. Loving your job just means you are a very lucky person and that you enjoy the days between vacations instead of just tolerating them. But luck has nothing to do with the human body and mind’s need for recharging. If anything, you need it more, because you probably put more of yourself into your job than everyone else. There’s another reason everyone needs vacation: because there is a big huge wonderful world out there.

6. If all your exercise occurs in a gym, you’re missing out. There is a magical feeling that comes from expressing our physical abilities in the presence of Mother Nature. Take a look at the faces of the people you see at a ski resort, or on a hiking trail, or climbing. There’s a reason everyone looks happy.

7. I swear a lot more on vacation than in regular life. Not sure what that’s about.

8. Seniors who ski make me smile. We chatted with a group of seniors on the gondola one day. I would guess late 60s, maybe early 70s. There are a lot of seniors who ski. A lot. They don’t tend to hit many steeps or bumps at that age, and don’t always stay on the slopes all day. But they still do it; and they still love it. When I taught skiing at Silver Star 10 years ago, I often skied with a guy who was in his early 80s. He even skied the occasional bump run with me. Amazing. The youngest skier I ever taught was two. I love that this is a sport for all ages.


(this is so awesome, it’s worth having to watch the commercial first)

Wondering if Lou Batori is still skiing? You bet! I just found this link from a couple of weeks ago of him skiing at 102.


9. 40 is decision time. If you are 40 and you don’t exercise for months on end because you are working 16 hours a day, and then try to do a week long ski trip, you’re going to have a hard time. I’m not sure what is worse for your health: not exercising, working 16 hrs a day and trying to do a week long ski trip; or keeping on with the not exercising and working too much. The ski trip will probably be painful, allowing few runs, and likely significant muscle soreness, if not worse. But the ski trip might also provide the necessary eye opener that a lifestyle devoid of exercise and full of stress is not okay. Because here’s the thing: If you are in your 40s, you are knocking on the door of heart attack country. No; really. Just ask my friend John, whom I met during ski instructor training. He was there after an early 40s heart attack woke him up to the reality that all work and no play is not only dull, but potentially lethal. 40 is also when you decide how much you’re going to enjoy your 60s, 70s, and 80s. Want to be actively playing with your grandkids at 80? Skiing at 100 like Lou? Life is about choices.

10. British Columbia really is beautiful. It’s actually kind of ridiculous.

Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer in Ottawa who loves to ski.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for my (non-spammy) newsletter

* indicates required

Email Format

The truth about sport-specific training

For the past 9 weeks I’ve been following my Training for Skiing program in preparation for a ski trip to Kicking Horse, next month. This week, however, I did something completely different: I went surfing.  My brother and sister-in-law signed me up for surf lessons on three consecutive days – talk about an amazing gift!

As I drove to the beach for day 1, I wondered how I would do – both from a coordination and a fitness perspective. Would I have the stamina to keep paddling? Would I be sore before the second day – too sore to have fun? What about day 3?

I’m thrilled to say that I had an absolute blast each of the three outings, and that I had virtually no soreness at any point over the past 3 days. My arms were getting fatigued toward the end of the first 2 hour lesson, but that subsided before the next day. I was generally fatigued toward the end of the second lesson, but I was also fighting a cold (a not-so nice Christmas present from my young niece).

I kind of suspected this would be the case: that my ski-specific training program would prepare me nicely for surfing.

Here is the secret truth about sport-specific training: it’s really more about training that is specific for sports than about training that is specific for a sport. There. I said it.

Train for sports

There are  some minor variations between the training programs I would put together for a volleyball player, a soccer player, a skier, a surfer, a tennis player, and an ultimate player. But the similarities are  much greater than the differences.

How is this possible? If you think about what each sport requires, it should become pretty self-evident. Do you have a sport that you play? Start thinking about what you need from your body to be able to do it. Now read the training description below and consider whether it adequately describes the needs for your sport:

  • Strong rotary core muscles to control movement and transfer energy between your upper and lower body.
  • The strength to balance and express power with each leg.
  • The strength to push, pull, and stabilize yourself or an external object with your arms.
  • Mobility in the ankles, hips, and upper back/shoulders.
  • Work capacity (stamina) to be able to perform these  tasks repeatedly.

That about cover it? Ya, thought so.

There are in fact some important specifics to many sports, and ideally your training program will take them into account. But the similarities are much greater than the differences, and you could do very well in one sport from having trained for a completely different one. Like I did.

If I had actually been training for surfing instead of skiing for the past 9 weeks, the biggest difference in my program is that I would have had more focus on the upper body for the energy systems development portion of my workouts (stamina building). This would have meant using battling ropes, rope pulls, rope climbs, and inverted rows to prepare me for the repeated paddling I would have to do. Instead I did most of my energy systems work on the bike, the slideboard, and the ladder, in anticipation of the many mogul runs I will be doing.

Part of the reason well-developed sport-specific training programs are so transferable from sport to sport, is that they address both the movements you need to do for your sport, and those that work the opposite muscles, to ensure you maintain a healthy body. In the case of skiing, we’re not doing a whole lot with our arms, but because we spend so much time in a hunched over position, a good ski-specific program should include upper body strengthening, in particular pulling movements that work both the arms and the back. This helps with skiing because it keeps a healthy posture. And as it turns out, this helps to make a ski-specific program effective as training for surfing.

Now if only I had the skill to move a surf board as well as I can move skis.


Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc, CSCS, CSIA II, is a personal trainer, ski instructor, and newbie surfer living in Ottawa.

New magazine workout! Should you try it?

This started as a minor Facebook rant but as I kept typing angrily (my poor keyboard), it seemed to morph into a blog post. Open WordPress and here we go…

I follow Outside Magazine on Facebook, where I saw a post for a new article “Want to get into shape? You can do it with this CrossFit-inspired training pyramid.” Okay, I’ll bite – I’m a fitness pro and a ski instructor, and let’s face it a little anti-crossfit. All things pointing to me reading the article (

Truth be told, this wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. In fact most of the exercises in the program are great exercises. So why did my blood pressure start to rise as I read it?

The right exercises mean nothing if the form is poor or the progressions are inappropriate. Allow me to elaborate…

The proposed workout includes 6 exercises, to be done in a pyramid “as fast as you can, with no rest”. Here it is:

Exercise 1: handstand push-ups. Remember that this article starts out with the question “Want to get into shape?” Yet strangely the first exercise is one that is probably too hard for 95% of the population to do correctly, and those that can do it are already in excellent shape.

Translation: here is an exercise where you’re very likely to hyper extend your back and possibly even fall on your head while doing very partial range handstand push-ups because you aren’t strong enough to do full range ones.

Better option: How about we start with push-ups, shall we? I know – boring. But guess what – for most people this will get you fit faster than handstand push-ups will because you’ll actually be able to do them. And the fringe benefit is that you’re unlikely to injure yourself in the process.

Stupidity rating on including this as a “Want to get into shape?” exercise: 5 ignoramuses


Exercise 2: Deadlifts. I love deadlifts. Truly. I think most people  should do them. But the magazine article suggests you “Load a barbell to match your body weight” for 10 repetitions. They then go on to describe how to do a deadlift, which suggests they are writing this for beginner trainees. Seriously? Lift your body weight on your first ever deadlift? I’m not going to pull any punches here: that is negligent advice. Building up to doing body weight or even more than body weight deadlifts is a great idea. But don’t start there! This was where I could actually feel my blood pressure rising.

Translation: Awesome exercise. Improper progresssion.

Better option: Start with a light weight and build up, paying close attention to form. Ideally have someone watch you or video yourself so that you can be sure you’re doing it properly.

Stupidity rating on including this as a “Want to get into shape?” exercise: 5 ignoramuses


Exercise 3: Toes to bar. I’m not a fan of this exercise for three reasons:

  1. too much spinal flexion for my liking
  2. it tends to pit the hip flexors against the abs, with the hip flexors typically coming out on top. Considering many people have some degree of hip flexor dysfunction, it just strikes me as a useless exercise.
  3. Like the handstand pushup, it’s too hard for most people who are not already in top shape. I’m trying to imagine what the average Joe or Jane’s toes to bar will look like. Probably nothing like it should. In fact maybe this is a saving grace for the exercise: unlike the handstand pushup where people’s failures can hurt them, in this case the difficulty will probably just prevent people being able to do it. That makes this a waste of time, but at least it’ s not dangerous.

Translation: Don’t waste your time. If you’re strong enough to do it, there are better options; if you’re not strong enough, it’s a complete waste of your time (and ego).

Better option: TRX inverted rows or pull ups.

Stupidity rating on including this as a “Want to get into shape?” exercise: 3 ignoramuses.

In case you’re not familiar with inverted rows:


Exercise 4: Box jumps. I like box jumps, but not surprisingly, I don’t like how they are described here. Jump onto a 24″ box? First time? Maybe. But wouldn’t it be nice to start with a 12″ box? Then maybe an 18″ box, before going to the 24″ version? It makes me think of a comment that one of my mentors made – something about how CSI could come in and get some great DNA samples from most plyo boxes. This workout is why. The other reason I don’t like this application of the box jump is that they suggest you jump off backwards after jumping up. This actually defeats the purpose of the box jump. The box jump is an early phase power exercise that is used to work on power generation without the strain of landing the jumps. Gravity gives you a little assistance on the landing. But when you have people jump off the box, you lose that. That said, I was happy to see this instead of a depth jump (where the person just jumps off the box). Oh, and I almost didn’t mention the volume: 20 of them at a time, for 40 total! Do they realize that box jumps are for power development? I’m guessing most of the DNA samples are collected at about the 30th rep.

Translation: A good exercise done poorly, without progression, and for too much volume.

Better option: Jump onto the box but not off initially, then progress to hurdle jumps or squat jumps. And don’t start at 24″.
Stupidity rating on including this as a “Want to get into shape?” exercise: 2 ignoramuses.

Want to really see why I don’t like people doing box jumps without building up to them:

Exercise 5: Kettlebell swings.  Great exercise. Truly. Too bad about the form. I wonder if anyone involved with this workout can explain the point of bringing the kettlebell overhead? Other than to injure the neck or back or provide a better launching point in case you want to give it a blind toss. I suppose it looks cooler than a proper kettlebell swing. But is there enough cool to overcome the risk? Sigh. And not to sound like a broken record, but understand progression! Don’t start with 25 reps using a 50 pound kettlebell. By all means, work up to a 50, or even higher. But don’t start there.

Translation: My kingdom for someone who understands kettlebell form!

Better option: Do the kettlebell swings, but don’t swing it past horizontal, and work up from a 20 or 25 pound kettlebell.

Stupidity rating on including this as a “Want to get into shape?” exercise: 4 ignoramuses.

In case you’re wondering how to do proper kettlebell swings:

Exercise 6: Wall balls.  Medicine ball throws are great. My current favourite is the medicine ball slam. So great for getting rid of stress, developing power, working triple extension (so important in sports), and even providing a cardio effect. I even like a variety of ball tosses. But tossing a med ball 10 feet up a wall and then catching it into a squat? Can someone explain the benefit of the catch part relative to the risk of a med ball to the face or sprained finger?

Translation: Looks cool and is cool are not the same thing.

Better option: Med ball slams, med ball chest passes, rotational med ball toss.

Stupidity rating on including this as a “Want to get into shape?” exercise: 3 ignoramuses.

Next time you see a workout in a magazine, before thinking “sounds fun, I’ll give it a try”, please look it over with a critical eye. If there are exercises that sound like they are dangerous or too hard for you, they probably are.

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS is an Ottawa-based personal trainer and ski instructor who is enjoying her pre-season ski training free of ridiculous exercises.

Ready or not, ski season is coming!

It never fails. Watching the new Warren Miller movie gets me excited about ski season. Like, really excited. That there isn’t even a drop of snow on the ground does not temper that feeling one bit. It will come. It always does.

This year, as with all years at this time, I’m hoping for a great snow season. The past couple of years up here have been pretty dismal in the snow department. Most skiers and boarders survived them because they remember fondly the season of awesome: 2008. Best. Snow year. Ever. Unfortunately for me, that was a year when I didn’t get to ski at all because of a hip injury. I also missed the following year for hip surgery. Two years away from my favourite passtime: Not fun, but I chalk it up to character building. I was so incredibly excited to get back on snow in 2010 that I didn’t really mind the poor conditions. I was just happy to be there. I am still happy to be there, but honestly these crappy snow seasons are starting to get old. Two years ago the capital of the USA had more snow than the capital of Canada. Not cool, Mother Nature!

But another ski season is almost upon us and hope springs eternal. I won’t be teaching again this year for lack of time, but I have my Camp Fortune pass and am eager to make good use of it. But what I’m really excited about is the trip to Kicking Horse. We leave in 14 weeks. That makes me smile. I’m already ridiculously excited and it’s still 14 weeks away. Wow! But here’s the thing: the last time I went on a proper ski trip was 2006. Six years ago. Six! Wrong, wrong, wrong! I missed two of the years because of my hip, and the others for my entrepreneurship habit. I love that I have my own business, and particularly love that it is a business that suits me perfectly and that I believe in passionately. But wow it takes time, money, and energy to get it up and running. It still takes a lot of me, but I’m finally at the point where I am starting to reclaim parts of my life. That means western ski trip!

If you were going to do the thing you love most for the first time since 2006, would you make sure you were prepared? I hope so! I keep myself pretty fit in general. You know, cuz I’m a trainer. But I want to take full advantage of a week of BC’s finest, which means it’s time to up the training. I have been thinking about what to do for my own training to prepare, when the obvious hit me yesterday: 12 Week Ski-Specific Training Program! I just downloaded a copy, treating myself to a special rate ;). I’ll be starting the program on Monday, meaning I’ll finish the program with 2 weeks to spare. Perfect timing since I’ve got a few new exercises that I want to use as the final ramp up for ski season (including my new favourite exercise: reverse slideboard lunges). Once I finish the 12 weeks (4 phases), I’ll do the new phase 5 and then it’s off to BC for me! I will be adding the new phase 5 as a bonus for anyone who buys the program this year. If you purchased a copy in previous years, comment below or shoot me an email and I will send you the bonus Phase 5 ramp up for free.

Happy skiing and boarding everyone!

What are you doing to get ready for ski season?

Bonus ski porn: this is probably my favourite youtube ski video. So awesome. I’m going to watch it again right now.

JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc, CSCS, CSIA, is a personal trainer and ski instructor in Ottawa.

The FMS results I have seen and what they mean

If you’ve read my stuff before, then you know that I am, well, a big geek. I think I probably took fitness geek to a whole new level with my bench press assessment article, talking about the work value of a bench press based on arm span. I think this article will further raise the bar on geek in the fitness industry.

This article is about what typical problem areas I see based on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS for those who like to keep things short) assessments that I perform. Not familiar with the FMS? Check out, or read on for a brief overview. Then follow the article to see an overview of the results I’ve seen in terms of what functional movements tend to cause the most problems, and how the results are different based on gender and whether someone is an athlete.

Lastly, I’ll share my take on what this should mean for your training (or programming for trainers) if you do not have access to the FMS or other assessment options to help guide you.
Continue reading The FMS results I have seen and what they mean