When it comes to skiing, there's a difference between
what you think it's going to be like,
what it's really like,
and what you tell your friends it was like.
~Author Unknown

Well, that is unless you have pictures.

Yes, I know the 2011-2012 winter has so far been lacking serious snow. But don't let that stop you from cross country skiing!

I think it's funny I signed up to write for here at Star Tribune on healthiness activities in Minneapolis/St. Paul because the truth is, I'm not adventurous. I'd really rather just go to the gym, do my workout and be done. Something happened when I lost 100lbs - I developed this desire to push myself outside of my comfort zone and doing things I normally wouldn't do. I hate the thought of going outside my comfort zone but love the feeling of looking back and accomplishing it.

I haven't been skiing since I was young. In fact, I don't even remember doing it. I only know I did it because my sister, Melinda, reminded me I did when I stopped at her house to pick my niece, Kenzie, up.

"Do you remember going skiing with mom and dad?" she asked.

"No, when was that?" I replied back.

I shut my eyes for a moment, desperately trying to remember that day when my mom was still alive; when she and my dad bundled us girls up and loaded us into the van for an outing. It crushed my heart knowing it was a memory so long ago that I couldn't remember. 

I have to admit, the thought of cross country skiing terrified me. I have very little coordination when it comes to doing anything that requires choreographed movement. But for the sake of sharing my experience here, I sucked it up and pretended that my heart wasn't beating outside my chest. Kenzie had recently been skiing and was excited. At least one of us was.

I helped strap Kenzie into her skis...


 ...but should have headed the advice the flight attendants tell us "put your own mask on first." I'm pretty sure there is a trick to putting your own skis on but I didn't figure it out. I fell more times than I'd care to admit trying to get my skis on.

 And then to stand up? Yeah, right.

Skiing is not only a great workout for arms and legs but assuming you can laugh at yourself, it will also work out your stomach muscles.

Don't let the lack of snow stop you from considering cross country skiing. For a $4 daily usage fee, we took advantage of the man-made snow made at the Elm Creek Park Reserves in Maple Grove. Lacking cross country ski equipment, we rented everything we needed for a very nominal fee ($8 for adults, $6 for youth).

 The one thing I couldn't pay for? Stability. Cross country skiing is harder than it looks.

 It took us about an hour to make our way once around the main trail but I think we were the slowest skiers there. At one point, after finally making it up what appeared to be Mount Everest (truth: it was a small incline), I threw my hands up in the air and shouted "I MADE IT!" only to be passed by a 13 year old boy who mocked me and screamed sarcastically  "I made it too!" I wanted to chase after him and tell him it wasn't nice to make fun of his elders but the truth was, my feet were strapped into skis and let's be honest, I could barely keep myself up right.

We finally made it back to the chalet and while a majority of people there went around multiple times, the sound of hot chocolate by the fireplace sounded more appealing. My knees felt like they were bloody and my butt felt bruised, neither of which turned out to be the case.

You want to know something though? I had a blast. I loved it. It was inexpensive fun and a workout at the same time burning roughly 450 calories an hour (source.) I really do want to go back but this time, I plan on bringing more people with me and maybe I'll go around 2 or 3 times.

To learn more about cross country skiing at the Elm Creek Park Reserves, including the location, hours of operation, equipment rental details and contact info, click HERE. Interested in cross country skiing somewhere else? Click HERE for other Minneapolis cross country skiing and click HERE for St. Paul cross country skiing.


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