Got a snow day? Hit the slopes! Downhill skiing is a great way to whip your body into shape—and incinerate a huge 400 calories an hour! Here's how to rule the run, courtesy of Chris Fellows, director of the North American Ski Training Center in Truckee, California, and author of Total Skiing.
Never ski without a helmet. Even the slightest bump on the noggin without one can lead to a severe, even life-threatening, head injury.
If you haven't been on a lift in a while, choose an area with lots of green-circle (beginner) runs, like Colorado's Beaver Creek or Maine's Sunday River. They tend to be wider and better groomed (think smooth-packed snow), making them ideal for rediscovering your skills, Fellows says. Also, take a refresher lesson or two to boost your confidence.
Consider your destination when picking skis. For groomed mountains, choose hourglass-shaped carving skis, which make turning super-easy. If backcountry is more your style, powder skis (straighter and wider) will glide easily across the snow. And if you like to mix it up, grab a pair of versatile all-mountain skis.
Whichever you choose, opt for a women-specific pair; they're built for our lower, farther-back center of gravity. The biggest decision: to rent or buy. If you ski less than one week per season, Fellows suggests renting, because buying will cost you around $1,000, plus maintenance fees.
So you can easily control your speed and direction? It's probably time for a tougher run, Fellows says. But if you feel overwhelmed on a more difficult slope, take a lesson to help with the transition. Remember: Tumbles are common, so stay loose. If you're tense, you're more likely to get hurt.
Most injuries, especially knee-related ones, occur at the end of the day when you feel physically exhausted, Fellows points out, so call it quits while you still have a little energy left. (To prevent injuries, do leg curls and squats to shore up the muscles around your knees in the weeks before you plan to hit the slopes.) Back at the lodge post-ski, spend some time in Downward Dog to keep your muscles loose and happy.