Ski or Die Podcast Ep 2 — Can Water Skiing and CrossFit Coexist?


With so many methods for off season and cross training available, it can be hard to commit to one path. In this episode, we discuss our experiences with CrossFit — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and which pillars of CrossFit and functional fitness we recommend to skiers of all levels.

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Elizabeth:

Hi guys. Welcome to the Ski or Die podcast. I am Elizabeth co-founder of the Ski or Die brand. Let's go over the rules of the show. If you couldn't tell Ski or Die is all about old fashioned values, so you gotta pay your dues around here. My goal is to keep the show free of sponsorships, cause I'm not here to push ads at everybody. So you need you to do me a favor. If you learn anything from this episode, if it gives you the feels, inspires you in any way, please share it with somebody else that you think might resonate with, and let's pay it forward. So welcome to episode two. This one we source from our texts, community app, topics, ideas, things you wanted to hear from me specifically, because this is our show and we have full reign. I can really talk about whatever I want to talk about and something that came up a lot was CrossFit. Especially how to train in the off season, different types of cross training, how to do it, not get burned out, how to not get hurt. But a lot of how has CrossFit impacted your skiing or helped your skiing? And I feel like between Stevie and I and our experience with CrossFit, we have a lot to share and two very different stories when it comes to CrossFit. Actually, I think it's cool that we didn't do our CrossFit journey together necessarily because, there's just so many different ways to experience CrossFit. And my first experience was not a positive one, right? So I started CrossFit, as a freshman in college, I was at Rollins and I honestly don't remember how I found that box, but I started working with a CrossFit coach one-on-one I never did any classes because he said I wasn't good enough to do the classes.

Stevie: 
What?

Elizabeth:
Right?

Stevie: 
That's ridiculous.

Elizabeth:
So he wrote programming for me. I went, I think like twice a week.

Stevie: 
But hold on, back up, back up. He said you weren't good enough to do classes?

Elizabeth: 
Yeah. He said I wasn't strong enough skilled enough, which probably was somewhat accurate.

Stevie:
But you can scale any CrossFit workout..

Elizabeth: 
Yeah. I feel like that was something that was not communicated well, to me back when I like met CrossFit was. It's doable for anybody, you just have to scale it appropriately. Like I literally thought everybody did prescribed workouts except for me. Yeah, so it was like really intimidating. And then I think at this time, this is when, like, if you were in CrossFit, you also were like dabbling in paleo. Like it was not an option, you were, you were paleo. So he was trying to get me hooked on that and like trying to be paleo and eat college cafeteria food. It was just so hard and not doable. And then, yeah, he had me doing these workouts that were usually way too heavy for me at the time. Probably should have been like really scaled and working on form. So, I was just really sore all the time. And then I was sore when I skied, so I didn't ski well, cause you know, when you're sore and you ski like tense. You know, and I didn't really know as much about like stretching of course and like all that recovery stuff as well. So basically I was hurting all the time. I did end up hurting my back more cause I had back injuries back then as it was like, they'd come and go from slalom. And then I definitely didn't feel like any stronger or like I looked any better. Like I didn't really get the confidence out of it that you really should get if you're doing CrossFit the right way. Because I think at the end of the day, that's what CrossFit does for people. It's a community, you learn a lot of skills, you get stronger, and that really all like leads to a lot of confidence which you can take into your skiing. And I definitely didn't have that. So I was like, CrossFit is stupid. Everybody gets hurt doing CrossFit. These people are weird. Like, I don't want anything to do with this ever again. And I like talked so much about CrossFit for like how many years? Cause that was 2012. So it was like what? Like eight or nine years of me talking about CrossFit.

Stevie: 
Wow. That's early though. Like, you're one of the earlier people to get into the sport

Elizabeth: 
When was CrossFit like created?

Stevie: 
I don't know when it necessarily was created, but I think it started to gain some moment around 2009, 2010.

Elizabeth:
Okay. Yeah, because I felt like it was, I was more like in the beginning when I don't know, everybody just acted like they were hardcore athletes. Like I met all these people and like you would've thought they all competed.

Stevie: 
Yeah. The super bulked dudes. Yeah.

Elizabeth: 
Yeah. It was really intimidating.

Stevie: 
Now the gym we go to now, I mean, it's like a family situation almost.

Elizabeth: 
Oh yeah. I mean, everybody knows your name. I mean almost, not almost everybody, but there's a lot of people who scale the workouts and that's like normal and yeah. Yeah. It's just, I think it's a much more productive environment. So then my second introduction into CrossFit was this past fall. And I think September I needed to switch gyms because I was just like over LA fitness and the big commercial gym situation.

Stevie: 
I can't believe you did that to yourself. Oh my goodness.

Elizabeth: 
In my defense, it was like eight minutes down the road. Yeah. But they were like I said, okay, why do we not have kettlebells? And they said, people keep stealing them. So we don't buy kettle bells anymore? And I just like, I don't think I can work out here anymore. Like, this is ridiculous. Like, you know, when you just hear somebody say something and you're like, I'm done, I'm over it. I'm done now. So I texted Trish, Trish Burt who skis at Okeeheelee because she'd always, I always heard her talking about how much she loved her gym and , the guy who was writing her programming. And I was like, okay, fill me in. And she's like sent me the, I think like the Google, like business listing. And I was like, this is a guy named CrossFit gym. Are you kidding me? I was like, I'm not doing this. And she's like, no, come meet Nick. He's the owner. Talk to him. He knows like I ski, he has skied before he knows skiers, actually a lot of skiers who go to this one, like he'll respect what you're trying to do. And I was like, okay. So I set up a meeting. I think like that afternoon, actually with Nick, I left work early, tried to catch him as he was leaving the gym and sat down in his office. And because I was so bitter about CrossFit, I sat down. I said, here's what you need to know. I know more about me than, you know about me. Skiing will always be more important than this CrossFit shit and I'm not going to do anything I don't want to do. And he was just, he looked at me and he's like, okay. And I was like, but I would like you to write me some programming please. And it was like the most ridiculously aggressive thing ever. But, it was true. He did know skiing and he understood that we are going to have muscular and structural imbalances just by nature of the sport because it's a mono board environment. , and so he helped me train around the imbalances and then train them into strengths. And I feel like my form has gotten so much better. I feel like I don't notice imbalances as much, and I've definitely gotten much stronger, especially like the past month. But it's a totally different CrossFit experience to what I had the first time. So the first time I had personalized programming, right this time I have personalized programming, but he definitely doesn't make me do anything that like, I just, as a skier know, I shouldn't do definitely doesn't push me to go any heavier than what I think I can. I'm pretty good about pushing myself to, I mean, you know, to throw a little extra weight on there, but totally different experience.

Stevie:
Do you think that the main focus for you is overall fitness or do you think it's more mobility and strength related when you go into the gym?

Elizabeth: 
I feel like it kind of changes throughout the season and this is probably a really good time to talk about that because it's the off season for most people. And even though it's our off season, we're still skiing a lot because we're in South Florida, but I'm definitely training a lot of strength right now. But I feel like with at least with nick's programming, there's always a lot of mobility involved because he does not want to have, you know, basically like stiff athletes. That's not his M.O.

Stevie: 
Yeah. And in order to, you know, do the skills and CrossFit you need a lot of mobility.

Elizabeth: 
Yeah. I feel like mobility is a non-negotiable regardless of if we're like training really heavy strength or we're doing more conditioning and cardio stuff.

Stevie: 
Yeah. And that's huge for off season training. Cause if you're going into the season and you have increased mobility you're going to be less prone to injury. It's going to be overall really good for you.

Elizabeth: 
I mean, I think something I've tried to impress upon people whenever I talk to them about joining like a CrossFit gym now, like even my parents, my brother, you know, everybody is, don't worry about the weight because everything can be scaled. And if you go to the right gym with the right people, you will not feel judged for scaling. If you feel judged, you're actually just in like a bad CrossFit culture. And that's like that owner, that's their responsibility to keep that culture righted. Right. So you need to be first of all in the right culture, where the coaches are, their priority is all that mobility. Because as your mobility gets better, like all the strength and the skills will follow. In my opinion, that's just what I've seen. And I mean, that's true for skiing too. I don't care if you're a beginner or you're pro, if you don't have mobility, it will catch up with you and there will be skills. You won't be able to execute on the water and you will get hurt. It's not a question of if it's just when. So, I mean, I feel like now I could say, somebody asked me, how has CrossFit impacted your skiing? We do change the structure of what I'm doing in the gym throughout the season. So like when we get to a really heavy tournament laden part of the year, we'll scale back on some of the strength, because I'm going to need to ski more and ski a lot of shortline, which a lot of starts at 39 and 41 is tiring. I don't care who you are. So we'll have to make sure that like, we're not killing me in the gym. You know, I got to have like the legs and the arms for 39 and 41. But that doesn't mean we'll stop training. I think one of the worst things I see is as the season goes on, I see some skiers start training in the gym less and less and less and less.

Stevie: 
100%.

Elizabeth: 
And then they think that they're all primed to ski more. And actually they've just lost a huge chunk of their fitness. It's not about pulling back in the gym. It's about restructuring, what you're doing in the gym.

Stevie: 
I fully agree. And I was talking to Abby at Wild Dog, who does my programming on the side. And she was saying that you can still focus on the skills that you want to focus on. You just, you know, when it comes to things that are going to make you sore, like maybe handstand pushups or something, that's more intense. You can scale back on that on, you know, reps, or at least the of reps that you're doing throughout the week, but you can still do them and you can still work on those skills. You can still work on the mobility. You can still work on, you know, how to execute on those, but you just scale it back. Even you can even do back squats still.

Elizabeth: 
Absolutely.

Stevie: 
You just do lighter loads and do higher reps. Yeah. I agree.

Elizabeth: 
That's a really simple framework, to be honest, you know, in the off season, if you're trying to train strength, you're going to be doing heavier weight and fewer reps. And then as you get closer to tournament, season lighter weight and higher reps can be just as productive. And then once again, though, it's case by case, you know, everything needs to be tailored to your imbalances, your injuries, what you're working through, what your goals are. And I think that's why it's really important to find if you want to do CrossFit, a good CrossFit coach who listens to you because Nick really listens to me. And I think you feel like Abby really listens to you.

Stevie:
Yeah, a hundred percent. But, what would it be a piece of advice to someone who maybe doesn't have, you know, a coach available where they are?

Elizabeth:
I mean, I think there's a lot of, I'm like a fitness, , Instagram junkie, like I love like falling CrossFit coaches on Instagram. , and through that, I found like a lot of coaches who they write programming and sell it and you can just, you know, buy it, download it. And I think that finding programming that you can buy where in their methodology they're all about scaling and a lot of mobility work. I think that that could be really good for somebody who might not have access to all of the CrossFit, you know, resources like we're in a fairly urban area. We have a lot of options available to us, but I can only think of anybody I'd recommend off the top of my head because I've never bought programming from anybody. So I'd hate to recommend somebody and it not be, you know, good because I just haven't tested it. But I think that's, you know, definitely an option. And the beautiful thing about training in today's day and age is if you don't have a fitness background and you don't know, there's so much on YouTube, there's so much you can Google

Speaker 3: 
Yeah. 100%. Maybe we should make a Ski or Die programming situation

Elizabeth: 
Ski or Die programming? Emphasis on skiing, less dying, more skiing! But you know, what I love about CrossFit again is that I used to think of machines were the way to train because like, it was harder to get hurt. And the truth is if you can sit down and do something, you're really not training. In my opinion, that's something I like fully believe.

Stevie: 
What do you mean, sit down and do it. What do you mean?

Elizabeth: 
Like if you're sitting like on a machine and doing like, like hamstring curls on a machine, it's like,

Stevie: 
It's just iso, that's not that bad.

Elizabeth: 
Yeah. But I think that for skiers, because nothing in skiing is isolated, the fact that CrossFit, like they say like any movement in CrossFit is technically core work if you're doing it right. Cause you have to stabilize everything. It's like a good back squat your core is like stable, right? So I just, I think that for skier specifically, if you train isolated too frequently, it's not going to translate into good skiing. You know, I think the reason I can get to my alignment so quickly out of the buoy is because I'm so used to engaging everything simultaneously and like stay there, you know, like alignment, long legs, you know, tight core, long arms. I feel it from my toes, like all the way through the top of my head. And I don't think I would feel that way if I trained isolated as much. I'm very, I'm very interested in, and I give a lot of credit to like full body circuits and my ski fitness. I feel like there's a direct correlation there.

Stevie: 
Rock on. All right. Well, I think that's a good place to wrap up.

Elizabeth: 
Yeah, I mean there's so much you can like dive into about CrossFit, but that's like my experience in, you know, a very short little bursts.

Stevie:
I feel like we talked mainly about functional fitness rather than CrossFit really specifically, if you think about it.

Elizabeth: 
Yeah. I mean, at this point in my life, like we did CrossFit, I did CrossFit through what, Grand Prix and Mastercraft pro last season? And those were my two best pro events of the season. So I think I would say that functional fitness, whether it be CrossFit or some other variation is the most productive way to cross train for skiing that I know. And you either need to work with somebody who can help you tailor it in the off season and then in season learn more about it. You know, it can't hurt to have more knowledge and have a little more control over your training. Like I trust Nick fully, but I also study it so I can communicate with him better to get a more accurate result. And I'm just, I'm all about it.

Stevie:
Fantastic. Thanks Elizabeth!

Elizabeth:
All right guys, episodes over. Please leave a review and subscribe up on Apple it would mean so much to me. And if you want to be the first to know about all things Ski or Die, shoot me a text at (561) 468-3603 and we'll get you added to the community.


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