by Lucy Aspden, The Telegraph, July 17, 2017
It’s a Tuesday night in July and it’s been another scorching day in the capital. Most people would spend an evening like this in a beer garden in their flip flops, but as skiers who believe winter is only ever a couple of months away my friend Alex and I plan to spend our evening skiing.
That's because this summer Fulham-based ski centre Chel-Ski, just off the King’s Road, is encouraging skiers of all abilities to come and try its indoor slope with a twist, at its new Fit-Ski classes. At Chel-Ski there’s not an ounce of snow in sight. Instead the slope, which moves under skis like a giant sloping treadmill, is made of astroturf-like material, sprayed with water to give it grip.
Our instructor Dan Crawford greets us and as we trade sandals (it’s July remember) for trainers he asks our ski boot size and skiing ability so we can be set up with ski equipment. The Fit-Ski class is split into two parts, off-slope fitness, hence the need for trainers, and then skiing on the slope. Dan is a fully qualified personal trainer and ski instructor, and during the session he's going to use both his skill sets, putting us through our paces both on and off the slope.
The session starts with a warm up and a 20-minutes of dry-land training, focusing on the muscle groups that we'll use in the mountains next winter. Squats are followed by thrusters to work our legs, which are then immediately followed by core exercises such as twists and glute bridge raises. Dan explains the exercise plan is specifically tailored to the strength and movements needed on the slopes, and says regular classes would put any skier in great shape ahead of next winter. The Fit-Ski class requires no previous skiing experience so is suitable for all abilities and anyone who wants to get fit for the winter season ahead.
There’s no time to catch our breath – immediately after the last exercise it’s on with the ski boots and time to jump onto the slope. “This will be the easy bit,” we tell ourselves. We spoke too soon.
After the high-intensity muscle workout beforehand and despite being advanced skiers we both find it tough to hold a beginner-level snowplough, wobbling on shaky legs as the slope begins to move beneath us. At our ski level it seems counter-intuitive to be doing a snowplough lesson, but as we soon find out, after the first fall, progression to parallel turns on Chel-Ski’s slope requires near-perfect technique, and that means getting the basics right first.
After what seems like a lifetime on the slope without stopping, Ben giving us instructions on how to improve all the while, our legs are shot. I can't remember the last time I skied, and skied hard, for that long without at least having a short rest to wait for the group, or gaze dreamily at the mountains around me. At Chel-Ski there’s no time for that - the focus is on the mirror in front so you can watch your technique and work on the movements the instructor is telling you to practise. It’s intense, amplified by the fact your body has already been pushed by the workout beforehand. And as we emerge into the July sunshine afterwards, legs aching, we both feel as if we’ve done a full day on the hill and are buzzing with what would be the same adrenalin – plus there’s no doubt our muscles are going to feel the effects in the morning.
British Winter Olympian skier Chemmy Alcott is an ambassador for Chel-Ski and has helped the team curate the Fit-Ski workout. “Fit-Ski is an all-round body activity,” she says. “If you want endurance, agility, coordination, strength and core, come down and have a go. I guarantee you’ll wake up the next day and know you’ve worked everything from your toes right up to your shoulders.”
Chel-Ski’s Fit-Ski class costs £20 for the first two trial sessions, after which it’s £20 per one-hour session on a pay-as-you-go basis. There are packages available from £95 for five sessions. The price includes tuition provided by a qualified personal trainer and ski instructor, boots, skis and helmet, plus a free health shake after the class. The maximum group size for a class is six guests.
Where to ski in the UK this summer?
Throughout the summer the UK’s longest indoor snow slope in Manchester is offering reduced lift passes for its 180m slope. An hour’s off-peak adult pass now costs £17, with a two-hour upgrade costing just £5 extra. Chill FactorE also offers six-hour courses for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders for £99. The course can be taken in one day, over two days or over three weeks throughout the summer.
The Snow Centre
The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, just half an hour from London, has a number of summer deals on offer. There’s 50 per cent of beginner group lessons until the end of August, an adult two-hour lesson now costs from £24. There’s also packages of six lessons for all abilities available at a reduced rate until Christmas. The six-pack lesson offer includes 12 hours of tuition for adults and up to nine hours for juniors, prices from £219 for adults and £169 for juniors.
If you prefer to be in the great outdoors this summer, the dry slope at Ski Rossendale in Lancashire has a number of summer offers. The special summer price for a two-day beginner course for skiers and snowboarders aged five and over is £65 per adult and £55 per child, available throughout August. There’s also two-for-one tubing all summer, costing just £10 for two people for an hour’s session on the slope.
At its centres in Castleford and Milton Keynes, Snozone is offering 25 per cent off lift passes and group lessons until the end of July. A one-on-one session on the Snozone Orbit revolving dry slope in Castleford costs £23 per adult and £20 per junior with the July discount, and involves 45 minutes on the slope, either learning to ski or perfecting skills, as part of a workout with an instructor, plus video analysis afterwards.
SnowDome in Tamworth has a number of summer offers. A three-hour lift pass for the slope now costs £35 for adults and £29 for juniors until the end of August. Mid-week full-day lift passes, which provide access to the slopes between 9am and 6pm, also cost £39 for adults and £33 for juniors, until the end of August. There’s also 25 per cent off lessons until 31 August, including two-hour ski or snowboard lessons, three-hour fast track lessons and private lessons.