Winter has finally come. At the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club, this is cause for great celebration (we were getting tired from all that snow dancing!).

The wax room, which has been a bit quiet lately, is starting to bustle, once again becoming a hive of activity.

If you haven’t already done it, now is the time to shake the dust off your ski equipment and get outside to enjoy some of the best trails in the country.

In all likelihood, there are another five months or more left in our ski season, so you can ease your body into its ski groove gently.

Cross country skiing uses pretty much every muscle in your body. It’s the ideal exercise to tone up legs, arms, cardio-vascular system, core and anything else you can think of, even your mind. There is nothing more therapeutic than a moonlight ski after a day in the office.

Your first few skis of the year should be easy, getting back into the rhythm of the sport. Don’t try to get fit all at once!

Way back, someone said that if you can walk, you can ski. Unfortunately, some people have taken this to mean that skiing is all about walking, albeit with boards strapped to your feet.

Not true. Skiing is about gliding. Good skiers look effortless as they roll past, and a good skier expends less effort to go the same distance as one who lacks technique.

So start the year getting used to the gear again, getting used to the balance and the glide and the rhythm. As you get used to the feel of the snow, try to glide longer and work less. Think gentle and graceful.

Most skiers find that they feel a bit awkward their first time out in a season. Don’t fear; that feeling will go away. Second time out you’ll feel as natural as ever. By Christmas you’ll be a pro.

Try to get out three times a week and your body will remember everything you’ve taught it.

Back to those muscles we talked about above. As I mentioned, skiing uses just about every muscle in your body. That means that the morning after your first ski you will probably be a bit stiff.

Stretching a bit after your ski will help this; so will stretching a bit the next morning.

People often ask about the best way to get fit for skiing. If you’ve been working out all summer great – you’re most of the way there. If you haven’t been working out, there is no time like the present.

But since ski season is upon us, the best way to get fit for skiing is … going skiing. Couldn’t be easier!

Our ski trails are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Portions of them are lit until 9:00 at night, and if there is a moon you really don’t need to stick to the lit trails (although be sure you know where you’re going, and it’s best to ski with a friend).

Many skiers use a headlamp. This frees them to go anywhere, anytime.

If you’re new to the sport and not sure where to start, come in and see us for advice. There are some excellent ski schools offering programs for all ages and abilities; another great way to get rolling.

So shake the cobwebs off and come and enjoy the best exercise around.

See you on the trails.

Claude Chabot is executive director of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. If you have questions about the club or its extensive network of trails, you can reach Claude at [email protected]