Yes it’s official – according to this morning’s Daily Telegraph, the British are a bunch of lazy porkers. It seems almost a quarter of us are so fat we can’t waddle for a bus without risking collapse, and our continued addiction to chips and unidentifiable greasy things from Greggs is turning our arteries into wool. Not that this comes as a huge surprise, given we can spot the British punters in resort a mile away just by the amount of extra padding they’re wearing.
‘Experts’ from the European Commision are concerned, according to the Telegraph. I’m not sure why because it’s really none of their business whether or not British women want to live on a diet of Coke, KFC super-lardbuckets and nasty plastic doughnuts. They can’t even harp on piously about The Cost To The NHS, since they neither contribute nor use the service, what with most of them being German. Or Belgian. Let the fatties stuff their faces if they like, I say – they’re going to be a lot cheaper in the long run than skinny healthy types who don’t have the consideration to keel over with a heart attack at 50 and insist on rinsing the system for hip replacements, cataract operations and 10 years worth of meals on wheels. Besides, the smokers are probably footing the bill for the whole lot and still leaving us all a bit of spare change.
But having said that, it’s probably a good idea to give some thought to your physical fitness (or lack of it) if you’ve booked a ski holiday, particularly if you don’t want to meet your maker mid-piste. Piste rescue pick up at least one heart attack a year and probably more. Seriously, what makes people think they can sit on their bums all year doing nothing more strenuous than prodding the PS3 remote and then spend a week doing exercise at altitude for eight hours a day? Tell them to go jogging all day every day for a week and they’d look at you as though you were insane (which you would be). But just because it’s skiing they think they’ll survive the experience unscathed.
Now I’m not suggesting you should be fit enough for an Ironman Triathlon before you so much as look at Iglu but let’s be honest, how much would it hurt just to walk to KFC now and then rather than take the 4×4? You probably spend more time looking for a parking space than you would making the entire round trip on foot.
Oh I haven’t got the time for that, I hear you say smugly, as if working 12 hours a day when you’re only paid for eight is in some way laudable. Besides, you spend four hours a day watching TV or so we’re told. Which makes nearly 30 hours of your life you’ll never see again every single week. You could go swimming three times a week and still have enough time to watch far more Jeremy Kyle than is good for anyone’s mental health.
But if you don’t fancy venturing out on a wet November night, there are plenty of at-home exercise suggestions out there in the webworld, most of them apparently designed to make you look very silly indeed. But if you close the curtains and lock the door to the spare room you’ll probably get away without anyone knowing about it.
For the gizmo-obsessed, there’s the Skiers Edge, a machine which claims to mimic the effort of skiing in all sorts of different conditions from moguls to powder, before being consigned to the garage with that cycle training machine you swore you’d get so much use out of. Try before you buy would be my advice there. Not that it’s all that easy to buy one, as the website tells you it’s not available in stores and then makes you jump through hoops before they’ll condescend to sell you one themselves. They keep very schtum about prices too, probably because if they told you how much it cost you’d have a coronary right there and then, thereby losing them a sale.
ifyouski.com offers a more accessible set of exercises, most of which look as though you could just about do them in the space between the spare bed and the freezer. You will need two balls, a set of big elastic bands and a bit of carpet, from the looks of things. Or maybe it’s a yoga mat. I’m not sure I can take an exercise called Dying Bug seriously though, and I feel a helmet would be wise in case you fall off the ball and bean yourself on the edge of the bed. Not much in the way of gnarly points in that as a ski injury.
Unlike Skiers Edge, who clearly don’t really want to sell any of their products, the chaps at Avalanche Ski Training are so eager for you to buy their e-book that they give you more or less one order button per paragraph. And given that their system promises to Turn Your Legs Into Pillars Of Steel! why wouldn’t you? Apart from the fact that looks suspiciously like a heady mixture of tosh and snake oil.
If you’ve got far more money than sense and feel like being royally fleeced, the FT’s How To Spend It website suggests a weekend in a country hotel (a ‘sportif’ country hotel, mind you, which presumably makes all the difference) where you get a couple of fitness classes ‘tailored to your physique’ plus half a day’s skiing in a giant fridge. Because that’s really going to offset the effects of an entire year spent doing nothing but messing with your Wii. Prices ‘from’ £495 per head (ie more than £495 a head). You could book a second ski holiday for that. Two, if some of the offers I’ve seen recently are anything to go by.
So in the absence of vast amounts of wonga and/or a spare room big enough to swing a cat, what can the average skier do to avoid dropping dead before he gets back for the first day’s afternoon tea and cake? I know you don’t want to hear it, but probably pass on the doughnuts and Coke a bit more often. And stay out of the car – they’re overrated, whatever Mr Clarkson might have to say about it. Think about it – does he remind you in any way of the sort of super-fit ski god you’d like to imagine you could be? No he doesn’t. Pasty-faced lardarse would be more like it, I suggest.