Updated: Jan 29, 2019
Although one of the best experiences of my life, the process of learning to snowboard hit me like a freight train. I was 100% unprepared for the reality of ten days snowboarding as a beginner. I underestimated how many times I would be pushing myself back up from landing on my butt and how much my calves would burn trying to leaf down the magic carpet and I wasn't at all prepared for the discomfort of wearing snowboard boots for the first time. I definitely wasn't super duper fit at the time but I wouldn't say I was totally unfit either, however I remember waking up in the night from muscles aches everywhere in my body, barely being able to roll from one side to another. Do not fear, this pain was very short lived and outweighed heavily by the stoke for snowboarding that also hit like a freight train.
If you are heading to the slopes and plan to try snowboarding for the first time, here are six helpful tips to help you prepare, succeed and have the very best experience. I promise it's worth it and with a little perseverance you'll find yourself returning to the mountains over and over again.
1. Join a gym or do your own home workouts focussing on squats, push ups, tricep dips and cardio. I'm not gonna lie, if you don't have a basic level of fitness, it will be difficult. You're going to rely on your arms and legs countless times to push you back up from the snow to standing and if you've worked those muscles for a few months or even weeks prior to the trip, your arms will thank you, they will not be dead weights and you will be able to hold your well deserved drink up to your mouth at the end of the day. Extra Tip: Download the 'Active by Popsugar' app for thousands of free workouts you can do at home.
2. Pay for proper lessons - Most snow resorts have snowboard instructors that you can book lessons with at the main desk. Lessons can be done in a group setting or one on one. One on one lessons are more expensive but can often be worth it for faster progression. The coach can direct all of their attention to you making sure your technique is correct and helping you break down the movements. Group lessons are cheaper as there might be 5 or 6 people sharing one coach. Group lessons are a great way to meet new people and you will still learn what to do. A group lesson might be a good place to start, see how you go and book a one on one lesson to perfect your technique if need be.
3. Don't let your husband, boyfriend, brother, sister or someone close teach you when you're just starting out. Reason one being, they are not qualified and might teach you a technique that isn't quite right, and two, it can cause big disagreements and possibly tears. Sometimes an all too common voice is not one that you will listen to intently and take in what is being said, sometimes an innocent comment can be taken the wrong way and we immediately become defensive which is not ideal for learning. It's much better to be taught be a stranger as we are less likely to throw an adult tantrum in front of someone we don't know.
4. Wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet from the start is just good practice and will help cushion the blow should you fall and hit your head. Learning slopes aren't particularly soft and the chance of catching a back edge and hitting your head is probable so do yourself a favour and embrace the helmet. I promise you won't look silly, helmet design has come a long way in snowboarding.
5. Don't dress too warm. It's easy to think you need to put on every piece of clothing you brought to the snow because it's snow and it's cold, but this is not the case. Learning typically takes place at the bottom of the mountain where it's warmer and protected from the wind. As soon as you start moving around in the lesson, it can get very hot and if you get too hot it can be uncomfortable and your goggles will fog up. To avoid this wear a base layer thermal, most thermals are made from polyester or wool which will wick away moisture and keep you dry. Over the top of the thermal wear a mid layer such as a jumper made of polyester, again this will keep the moisture out, wearing cotton will not keep you dry as cotton absorbs moisture. Lastly wear a snowboard jacket and pants as your outer layer, snowboard jackets and pants are waterproof and will keep you protected if it snows or rains. If the weather is good, you can take the jumper off as soon as you become too hot. Don't forget the gloves, snowboard/ski gloves will keep your hands warm and stop your fingers going numb when you're pushing off the snow or doing your bindings up.
6. Bring your best smile and positive attitude. If you have a positive attitude about learning from the start, you'll have a much better time. Even if you're anxious and not entirely sure this whole snowboarding thing is for you, just see it as a new opportunity to learn something new and get out of your comfort zone. If you choose to participate in a group lesson, you'll meet new people who are also learning, these people might even become future snowboard buddies for life. If you wear a smile you'll attract only good vibes and the coaches will be extra nice making sure they do everything to help you learn and progress.
Learning to snowboard can sometimes feel pointless and you may feel like you'll never get the hang of it and think that it's only the special and talented people who can do it. I'm going to tell you right now, this thinking is horse shit! This is where you call on old mate persistence, with a bit of persistence and determination you WILL get it, you will start to understand how the board works and how to link turns and once you learn this your progression will be quick. Once it clicks you'll be super proud of yourself and snowboarding might just become your favourite thing in the world!