Figure Skating and Skiing: Don’t be fooled by the figure skater’s exceptional lines. Behind that long, lean body is stretch, strength, and control. These three words epitomize what Pilates is all about. You won’t see big bulky muscles in a figure skater but long, lean lines that carry the strength needed to maneuver on edges and balance/transfer weight with total control. The skater can’t build this kind of strength by simply ice skating. The kind of stretch, strength and control to keep you from collapsing out of jumps is dependent on a strong core and lower body strength and flexibility. When skaters gain strength in these areas, the precision of their movements is considerably enhanced.
The skier and snowboarder need this kind of strength, endurance and control to hold an edge while bombing down the mountain at speeds upward of 60 miles an hour. Lose an edge and the consequences can be severe. On the half pipe, total control and precision are key to safely performing tricks and maneuvers. Whether you are performing an Ollie or a Nollie or going for the Flying Tomato’s Frontside Double-Cork 1440, flexibility, strength and control will bring you down without injury. By strengthening the postural muscles around the spine, hips and legs as well as stretching the upper torso, hamstrings and back, Pilates can give you the edge before you step foot on the ice or snow.
2014 U.S. Olympian Julia Mancuso told The Wall Street Journal she shows up to Pilates class in ski boots. “It helps my brain remember correct body position for when I’m on the slopes,” says the 29-year-old considered by many in the sport to be the U.S.’s main medal hope in speed events at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. You shouldn’t go to that extreme. But, like Sochi hopeful Julia, you can get a boost from Pilates.