The Alberta boot camp

Travelling to Canada to join in a snowsports boot camp might seem a bit of an extreme way to prepare for the winter. Not according to PlanetSKI reporter Lisa Young.


Day 1

As our group of intrepid skiers and snowboarders arrived in Jasper town in the Canadian Rockies we were met by snow covered mountains and a temperature of -15C.

We hit the slopes of Marmot Basin early in the morning.

The resort is only partially open at the moment, but snow has been falling most days and the season has got off to a pretty good start.

It was a very pleasant morning but things were about to get tougher.

Much tougher.

You see The Alberta Boot Camp is designed to get you ski fit for the forthcoming winter season.

After lunch we had an outdoor training session with the Canadian Ultramarathon runner, Tracy Garneau.

Tracy Garneau

Tracy Garneau

Tracy is probably the fittest person I have met and can usually be found participating in extreme marathons around the world covering 161km, that’s 100 miles.

They include the Canadian Death Race, the Trans Alpine Run, Western States Endurance Run and the 50-mile San Francisco North Face Endurance Challenge to name only a few of the titles she has smashed and won.

Tracy took time out of her gruelling training to put us through our paces in the freezing snowy mountains around Jasper.

By the time she caught up with us she had already been for a quick 30 mile run.

We started with a short run, just a few metres, and then followed with half an hour of running up and down a 50m vertical wooden staircase before taking off up a mountain for another run and more exercises at the top.

Some gentle jogging

Some gentle jogging














We were put through our paces and suitably worn out by the end of the session.

Our group of Boot camp guinea pigs were joined by the personal trainer, Niko Algieri, showed showed us a series of ski strengthening exercises to help us reach our peak fitness.

The boot campers

The boot campers












No pain, no gain

No pain, no gain












We all left the winter wilderness in a vehicle. Tracy on the other hand ran home and probably had her feet up and sipping a hot tea by the time we arrived at our hotel.

The boot camp continued, but at a slower pace with a yoga session with Terry Olsen of Jasper Open Yoga (J.O.Y).

J.O.Y is a community of yoga teachers and students dedicated to promoting yoga as a means of supporting health and wellness for Jasper’s residents and its visitors.

We all certainly appreciated our long stretching session with Terry, that helped us recover from the gruelling routine we were put through by Tracy Garneau.

We ended our last training session of the day at The Jasper Brewing Company, a much more civilised end to the day. Raising beer glasses instead of weights.

Then as we headed back to the hotel it started to snow – heavily!

Skiers and snow boarders will be able to join an Alberta Ski Boot Camp holiday for the winter of 2012/13. Details of a tour operator will be announced here on PlanetSKI over the next few weeks.

For more information about Marmot see here. Tracey Garneau is sponsored by North Face and the trip was organised by Travel Alberta. 

If you want to find out more about the companies mentioned then see their web sites – Jasper Open Yoga (J.O.Y) and  Niko Algieri.

Day 2

Early breakfast at the Papa George’s restaurant in jasper, located at 404 Connaught Drive.

Throughout the week Niko, our personal trainer, will work privately with each boot camp member. It’s my turn on Friday………those who have already experienced Niko’s session have returned tired and sore……watch this space.

Breakfast over and we’re off to join Tracy Garneau again for another training session in a nearby snow-covered park.

We’ll be utilising the park and its furnishings, such as benches to work out on and use for circuit training.

Utilising parks can save on hefty gym memberships.

Making use of what's on hand

Making use of what’s on hand












Tracy instructed us to run around the snow covered park, followed by step-ups on the park’s picnic tables.

We team up in two’s and then pass a medicine ball to each other, while one raises it 9-times above their head, the other performs 9 push ups, then we swap over.

This continues for about 20-minutes and then its into a crunches, performed on the ground on top of a plastic sheet to keep Boot Campers off the snow.

During cold, wet or snowy days, Tracy wears plastic shopping bags on her feet before putting her trainers on, to help keep her feet warm and dry.

Medicine man

Medicine man












Immediately after Tracy’s work-out, it’s straight onto the slopes at Marmot Basin again for some fun in the foot of fresh powder that fell over night and all morning. If this snowy weather keeps up, Marmot Basin will be able to open a few more runs very soon.

The rental service at the resort is excellent and they carry great new gear and staff are so friendly and helpful.

The snow fell heavily all morning, so we left early for our long drive to our next destination, the Fairmont Chateau Hotel Lake Louise which is a short drive from Banff.

To get there, we had to drive along the spectacular Icefields Parkway, a route that passes though jagged mountains and where massive glaciers loom large.

The route was completely snow covered, but we ploughed on regardless, making our impressive snowy journey in just over 3-hours.

We arrived at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to find the hotel filling up fast with international skiers who are here for the Men’s World Cup Lake Louise Downhill and Super G races this coming weekend.

After a high carb dinner and a few games of pool, we retreat for an early night in preparation for an early start tomorrow.

We’ll leave the hotel at 7:15am for the Fresh Tracks experience on the Lake Louise ski hill……hitting the lifts and runs an hour before they are open to the general public and before anyone else has a chance to get on the mountain and cut it up.

Later in the day, we’ll give the World Cup contenders a run for their money, as we learn to gate race in style with Gate Clinic, along with a highly qualified instructor who will take us through the racing motions.


Powder Day!


A change of location today and our Boot Camp moved onto nearby Banff, a 25-minute drive from Lake Louise.

No skiing today, it’s my turn to work out with our personal trainer, Nico Algieri.

I had a go with a neat bit of fitness kit – the TRX, Total Resistance System.

It allows you to isolate different parts of your body to get fit for skiing.

And you can use it pretty much anywhere.

The total resistance system

The total resistance system












The TRX session was effective and I found it as demanding as I wanted it to be.

I certainly worked up a sweat.

Pulling into Banff’s new Ice Hockey and Curling centre, the rest of the Boot Camp team have a go at curling and, as it turns out, they are not too shabby.

In the house

In the house












Following our TRX session, we all head to the Rocky Mountain Yoga studio.

Yoga exercises are said to be beneficial to those who are interested in mastering their sport, by increasing strength and mobility and to balance your nervous system.

It has to be said, we might be eager, but we are not the most flexible bunch of boot campers and we struggle with the tough yoga positions.

At the end of our session it’s clear to us how beneficial yoga can be to strengthen the body.

After finding our Rocky Mountain Zen state, we snap into full-focus mode and get ready for some outdoor Boot Camp conditioning classes with local Banff Personal Trainer Chris Pacheco, who operates Banff Athletic Conditioning Club.

Chris runs high intensity interval classes that will get you geared up for the ski season, focusing on functional athletic training in an outdoor winter setting.

Nice location for a few squats

Nice location for a few squats












We start with a jog to warm up, then move onto sled pulling and tire flipping, before using power ropes – a huge rope that’s looped around a goal post and then you hold each end and swing the rope up and down.

Not easy!

If the rope wasn’t heavy enough, the wet snow makes it even heavier.

The class is designed to increase functional core strength and athletic power output which is apparently the secret weapon behind every strong skier.

Useful web links for further details:

Fairmont Hotel Banff Springs:
Rocky Mountain Yoga:
The Fenlands Ice Hockey & Curling Centre:

For the spirit of the mountains