Snowboarding is incredibly popular across the globe, with millions of people heading out every year to enjoy a day or so on the slopes.
Johnny Wallbridge, snowboarding expert and owner of specialist clothing store YakWax, tells us about his experiences - and how snowboarding can benefit you in more ways than you might think.
It's fun to learn
Learning to snowboard might seem like a daunting prospect at first, but while there can be a steep learning curve if you plan on becoming very good at it, there is a lot of fun to be had in the learning process. Most resorts have nursery courses that are quite easy-going for those who have just started; you can put together the basics and prepare for a trip up to somewhere a bit more demanding.
I remember my first time snowboarding was frustrating, because I didn’t pick it up right away. But when it finally clicked into place, I felt so happy and proud of myself for persevering. I was with a group of friends that were really experienced snowboarders, so I didn’t have the benefit of spending much time on the nursery slopes - I was right in at the deep end.
The first two hours were tough. I kept crashing and sliding out of control, and the only way for me to stop was to fall flat on my back like a starfish. I was thrilled when I was finally able to turn from toe to heel edge, which meant I could control my speed and direction. I have a background in other board sports, so I probably picked it up more quickly than most would, but the sense of accomplishment I had when I had mastered it was fantastic. Yes, there might be bumps and scrapes as you learn, but when you nail your technique down you will be grinning from ear to ear.
I would recommend the sport to anyone and I love teaching my non-boarding friends how, just to see the smile on their face when they succeed.
If you are an absolute beginner, there are plenty of useful instructional videos that can help you to understand the basics of snowboarding, including this one from the Snowboard Academy. While it might seem like something you need to practice at, it doesn’t harm to know the theory first.
You'll eat great food and make great friends
One of the best things about snowboarding is the great atmosphere and relaxed social environment. Personally, I have found the community on each of the resorts I have been to be very welcoming towards beginners. If you wipeout on the slope, there’s always someone there to help you pick yourself up and dust yourself down. This community spirit really is a huge reason why snowboarding and other winter sports are so popular. Everyone, no matter how experienced, has always taken that first tumble, so they know exactly what you are going through as a novice.
When it gets dark, you get to experience another amazing aspect of a winter sports holiday. Après-ski is the name given to the entertainment, drinks and luxurious food that come in the evening after a hard day’s skiing or boarding, and it’s a great place to socialise and make some new friends. It brings people from different countries and backgrounds together into one big happy family.
These occasions are also the perfect opportunity to pick up some tips to improve your style, especially if the person who helped you up after your epic slip-up is in attendance.
If you’re looking for ideas for a great trip, this article from Igluski looks at the top après-ski locations in 2016.
You'll improve your health
Snow sports are great cardiovascular exercise. Just thirty minutes of snowboarding a day can vastly improve your fitness levels, and if you are out in the snow all day you can expect to improve your fitness levels pretty quickly. The best part is that all this exercise doesn’t really register because you are usually having too much fun to care. It’s also great for muscle toning because it exercises all of your muscle groups and provides a thorough workout.
Snowboarding is also great for weight loss, as it can burn between 250-630 calories an hour, so after a long trip you may find that you’ve lost a few pounds from all of the fun you’ve been having, as long as you haven’t been enjoying yourself too much during the après-ski evenings.
As with most exercise, snow sports are also great for your mental health, with the vigorous activity helping to releasing endorphins that aid in improving our moods. Personally, I think the real benefit that snow sports can offer are to be found in your surroundings. Being outside with beautiful views and lots of sunlight are things that would make anyone smile, and when you partner this with the huge amount of fun you will have on the slopes and the great social atmosphere, you have the recipe for something that can help to calm your mind and alleviate stress.