It is 25 degrees on a snowy February morning, and I am skiing in shorts and a T-shirt. Instead of snow, a carpeted treadmill rolls swiftly underfoot. A horizontal metal bar has replaced my ski poles, and any fear of falling is erased by the harness that holds me upright. I am in a session with Jason Closic at the Aspen Club & Spa in Aspen, Colo. Clos ic is a member of the Ski Doctors, a group of top skiing and snowboarding instructors assembled by former world freestyle champion John Clendenin, and he has diagnosed the problem that has been holding me back on the slopes.
“Be more aggressive and tip the little-toe side of the ski,” he says. Closic is trying to rid me of an annoying, overly cautious stem turn that I make when panic sets in on steep slopes, by replacing it with a simultaneous edge change. I give it a try and hesitantly roll into the turn. This ruthless edging and weight-shifting routine continues for an hour, until I am ready to trade the treadmill for the slope.
The Aspen Club includes the Ski Doctors’ service as part of its Whole Health fitness program. Training on the simulator is the perfect quick fix for skiers who do not have the time or patience for traditional ski lessons. “One hour on the deck followed by on-snow instruction translates to three to five days of lessons on snow,” says Closic.
The Whole Health program, which is offered as a three- or five-day package, is designed to improve a skier’s performance by evaluating his or her body mechanics, fitness level, and—through a session with a Ski Doctor—technique. In addition, the program includes the rudiments of a proper Aspen experience: spa treatments and accommodations on the Club level at the St. Regis, which will include a personal concierge and a ski valet.
On day one of the program, a personal trainer measures my body fat, strength, and flexibility. Next, we hit the gym for a personal training session in which I learn exercises specifically tailored to improve my strength and balance for skiing—squats on flexible balance disks and shoulder presses while standing on wobble boards. The most enlightening part of the gym session comes when I meet with a physical therapist for a biomechanical evaluation. He discovers my muscle imbalances and recommends exercises to increase lower back strength and stretches to improve hip flexor mobility.
Along with ski instruction, personal training, and even a private Pilates session, I receive daily sports massages and body treatments at the spa. A cooking class at Club Café gives me a new appreciation for the possibilities of spa cuisine as we learn to make a healthier—but just as savory—butternut squash bisque. For dinner I try the spa-cuisine tasting menu at Renaissance, and pair each course with a wine recommended by the sommelier.
One morning brings a snowstorm, so I skip a scheduled personal training session and instead hike to the top of Burnt Mountain at Snowmass, where Closic and I discover five miles of unbroken snow on Long Shot. My turns come easily as we cruise through gentle glades and over bumps hidden beneath the fresh snow. It is just what the doctor ordered.
The Aspen Club & Spa, 866.484.8254 or 970.925.8900, www.aspenclub.com