Dean Huber spends his winters outside. The last thing he wants to do is prepare for it inside some smelly gym in front of blaring television sets.
Huber, 59, has been competing — he prefers to call it participating — in the Wasatch Citizens Series ski races presented by The Utah Nordic Alliance for longer than he cares to admit. He quickly realized if he actually wanted to compete, and help prevent injury, he needed to work out long before the first race.
Huber really starts to feel the “ski itch” around Labor Day, and luckily he has found a way to scratch it through a dryland training program offered by TUNA.
“I guess I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years,” the Sugar House resident said. “It really helps me with the races, but I keep doing it because it is fun.”
Janet Myshrall and Laurie Grover-Humbert lead adult recreation fall dryland training sessions twice a week at Sugar House Park each fall. The focus is on core stability, ski-specific strengthening and flexibility.
Myshrall, a physical therapist, started the adult recreation dryland training with Kristin Aalberg in 1996.
“We realized a lot of what we were teaching our neurological patients to gain strength and balance would be good for skiers,” Myshrall said. “This was long before research supported this kind of training. Kristin and I laughingly called this the ‘how to avoid becoming our patient’ program. This is not cross fit and not boot camp. It is about defining a strong foundation to [keep doing] the things we all want to keep doing.”
Aalberg eventually moved away but was replaced eight years ago by Humbert, a native of Rochester, N.Y., and veteran of the 1994 Winter Olympic biathlon team.
“Laurie really provided an important aspect for the training,” Myshrall said. “She brought all her expertise of training as a national and international Nordic skier. Laurie helped take it beyond dryland training and really helped with that transition to snow.”
Myshrall and Humbert take participants through core conditioning exercises that incorporate pilates and yoga, which help with proper body alignment and balance.
Humbert said it was strength work that really improved her skiing, so she utilizes ski walking — essentially skiing without skis — to work the proper muscles. Push ups, sit ups and plank work also are done for strengthening.
“When I made the [national] team, I had a coach tell me to forget everything I knew about weight training as a skier and to start training with the luge and bobsled teams,” said Humbert, who competed in the 15K biathlon and relay at the Lillehammer Winter Games. “I was wicked strong within a matter of months, and it really helped my confidence.”
While TUNA provides dryland training at various levels, Humbert feels what she and Myshrall teach probably is most appropriate for the slightly older crowd.
“One of the first things we lose as we get older is power,” she said. “It’s important for speed and strength and to avoid injury.”
All involved agree the program is for more than skiers. All athletes or anyone wanting to get in better shape will benefit from the training.
“It works for Nordic or alpine skiers, but it is such a solid conditioning program that I often recommend it to all my friends,” Huber said. “My ski-specific muscles are strengthened, which improves my technique, but there are other benefits like preventing injuries. I also find I sleep better in general when I’m in shape.”
The first adult dryland training session was held at Sugarhouse Park, and Myshrall said no one ever has considered taking it anywhere else, particularly anywhere inside.
“The park just proved to be the best place,” she said. “We conduct the training rain or shine because we ski in all kinds of weather, so we should train in it as well.”
For Huber, being outside is one of the best parts of the training. That and having company.
“There is just something about being outside that makes it easier to go and do it,” he said. “We have a little saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices. There are such wonderful people there. If you are torturing yourself, it is always nice to do it with other people.”
Adult dryland training
O The Utah Nordic Alliance training sessions are held Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the north side of the pond at Sugarhouse Park through Nov. 25. The program includes core stability exercises, ski specific strengthening techniques, flexibility training, and ski walk and bounding interval work.
> Visit www.utahnordic.com for more information.