By: Brendon Fox
Living in Wanaka means a natural love of the mountains. From many a window, we’re lucky to be able to gaze up at the snow draped mountains, anticipating that first run of the season and the woosh woosh of skis through fresh powder.
With the slopes now open for business, many of us will be strapping on our boots and heading to the hills the first chance we get. But in the worst-case scenario, the outing can be marred with the niggle of an old injury or worse yet, coming off the mountain in worse shape than when you first arrived. PROACTIVE24 Personal Trainer, Brendon Fox is a keen skier and boarder, and knows all too well the frustration of being kept off the chairs or tied to the piste because of injury or fear of a fall. Here, the experienced trainer shares his tips for a top season.
Growing up in Dunedin, Brendon attended Otago Boys’ High and Otago University, where he studied commerce. Training as a chef in his early 20s, Brendon then moved to Sydney in 2000, starting his long career in personal training, initially qualifying with a Cert 3 in PT and then Cert 4 soon after. “I also studied Thai massage, Paul Chek, foam roller and myofascial release among many other things along the journey,” Brendon says. “I moved back to New Zealand when the kids were young, as I didn’t want them to be Wallabies supporters. I took a break from PT and bought an HRV franchise in the North Island, but Wanaka was calling and so was the fitness industry.”
Among his sessions, Brendon loves to share his knowledge of nutrition, cooking, motivation techniques and training. Having skied up until 2000, Brendon considered himself a die-hard Treble Cone man until he found the freedom of boarding. With two kids in tow; 16-year-old Vale (a skier) and 10-year-old Tane (a boarder) as well as skier wife, Sarah, being on the slopes in winter is a whole family affair.
“Some of the most common – and avoidable – injuries on the slopes that we see back in the gym include knee injuries, back injuries, shoulder injuries and wrist injuries,” Brendon says. “Many of these can be avoided, or if injury occurs, the recovery can be sped up by training specifically for your chosen snow sport. Motivation to train is really important. If you break your year into easily manageable parts and organise your training around key events like ski season or summer sports, then it’s easier to stay focused on your general health and wellbeing.”
Brendon says that whether you’re a professional on the slopes or a weekend punter, a snow specific training program is essential. “Ideally, you’d start least 12 weeks out,” he says. “This includes six weeks of balance, stability, coordination and postural alignment, followed by six weeks of strength training.” However, if you’ve left it too late for this season’s run, there’s always more you can do. “In season I like to work on my explosive power with targeted plyometrics and power lifting. You can always be stronger and more able to adapt to conditions.”
Some of the most important aspects of fitness that can help avoid injuries include strong legs. “This includes lunges, squats, leg press – you name it, do it and do it hard. The stronger you are leading in, the better prepared you are for injury prevention,” he says. “Number two is a strong back. Deadlifts, bent row and seated rows are just an example. The third most important thing is to stay lean. If you’re 20kg overweight, then that can hurt when you’re tumbling down a hill. Train like a professional and have more fun.”
Brendon says while the PROACTIVE24 team is always ready to assist, some of the greatest ways to prepare for a winter season is available to all locals for free. “Walk or run the mountains,” he says. “Not only is it good for Mario fitness, I love how it works my legs and challenges my balance and stability; you might also see me squatting on a stability ball from time to time.”
As for his favourite local runs, Brendon isn’t too prejudiced. “I don’t really have a favourite run; it’s all about who you’re with. I can have just as much fun on a green run with a good mate as I can on a double black run,” he says. “I love the vibe at Cardrona; the staff are super friendly and it’s a fun place to hang. As I’m a non-drinker I don’t really go out much. I’m a fan of Big Fig for lunch, but I can’t go past a spa at home followed by a home cooked meal and some friend and family time.”