We recently returned from an awesome Winter holiday in Norway with a pretty intensive introduction to cross country skiing.
I say 'intensive' because we'd both only ever done this a couple of times before and the trip was a 5-day 100k traverse on the Peer Gynt trail with over 800m of ascent on at least one of the days!
So after our first day on our own learning technique and familiarising ourselves with the skis we were completely knackered and wondering what on earth we'd let ourselves in for - and severly hoping the others on the trip were a lot less fit than us. If they weren't, we were in for a tough week.
We booked the trip through a company called 'Tracks and Trails', a UK/France/Swiss company operated and owned by two inspirationally fit women who ski and run around the French Alps, Norway and Sweden. An exceptionally well-run trip, we were accompanied by two guides and 10 other guests. Most guests were from the UK, with two from the US and one Canadian. A good mix of fitnesses and personalities, we fitted in pretty well on all fronts and our concerns about fitness and ability were luckily unfounded.
So, why did our fitness improve and why was it so awesome??!!
First, we were on our feet all day, every day for a week - think walking holiday in the Lake District: fresh air, hills, long days.
Second, the exercise was non-impact so other than a couple of blisters (I blame the hire boots) there were no injuries. it was also low intensity, so steady and even-paced.
Third, the scenery was stunning, we were out in the wilderness, and it just didn't feel like exercise. We were so distracted by the beautiful surroundings, new places that we just wanted to keep going.
SO if you've never considered taking an active holiday, you are missing out BIG TIME. Its a fantastic way to relax and switch off from everything. Your using your body and just concentrating in making it move in the best way possible. Everything else is forgotten and you come home totally refreshed and a little fitter.