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I love being active and trying out different hobbies that motivate me to move my body.

Was this always the case?

Definitely not! I’ve struggled to shake off the shame that comes with being fat and enjoying the outdoors, especially when there’s a lack of representation. But after years of self-doubt, I decided that I had enough, so I embarked on this journey to prove to myself and my fellow fat people that we can do anything!

But can fat people ski?

Yes, fat people can ski and there are no limitations for most overweight people that want to ski for recreation. However, an obese person who is inexperienced or leads a sedentary lifestyle could struggle, but by strengthening and working on preparing the body they can overcome their unique challenges.

I want to make skiing a wholesome experience for fat folks, that’s why I gathered my top tips, as well as a thorough explanation of the skiing benefits!

Is There A Weight Limit To Skiing?

When it comes to skiing there is no specified weight limit, and just by looking at different ski sizing charts, you’ll see that they focus on height and leave out the weight completely. There are certain places where weight is mentioned and one of them stopped at skiers who are 220 pounds or above.

I do believe that these charts are helpful in understanding what kind of equipment is best for you, or what a beginner skier needs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ski if you’re heavier than the number they’re presenting.

What these charts do show is the importance of communicating with a ski shop, as well as a ski instructor so they can accommodate you accordingly, and help you enjoy skiing, and making it a positive experience!

My Top Tips For Skiing To All The Fat Folks

Despite the fact that weight by itself might not matter, there are certain things we big folks need to keep in mind before putting on our skis. So, let’s take a moment to explore what skiing truly involves!

Tip 1: Choose The Right Equipment For You

No matter what activity you want to get into, equipment should be your number one consideration. The right clothes, and of course skis can make the experience pleasant or leave you disappointed.

Renting Or Buying

Finding the right equipment size can definitely be a struggle no matter the sport, and most of the time there’s a lot of research that goes into it. With ski equipment, you can definitely find large sizes, what can be a problem for some is going to the rental shop at the resort and realizing that they don’t have your size.

If you’re not sure whether you want to invest money into your own equipment, I’d suggest calling your top resort picks and asking them about the sizes they offer. Once you’ve found the perfect spot with the right equipment it’s a good idea to rent the equipment beforehand, because the last thing you want is to find out that your size is not in stock.

During the fitting stage, if you feel that some piece of clothing or equipment feels uncomfortable don’t hesitate to ask for a replacement. For me renting was a more affordable way of testing the waters or the snow to be precise, but if you’re sure that skiing is your winter sport you can look for local ski shops or online winter stores that have your size!

After all, you need to stay warm, comfortable, and motivated so you can focus on skiing.

The Size Of The Ski Matters

If you’ve embarked on the journey of buying your own equipment, then you should consider the size of your skis. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the ski charts are there to help you figure it out, and they explain that “the most important thing to consider when sizing skis is your height—the taller you are, the longer the skis.”

They also add that “This is because longer skis provide a wider base to account for your higher center of gravity, while also giving you more surface area to offset your weight.” Of course, ski charts alone are not going to be enough. That’s why visiting a store and talking to their experts can help you choose the right size for your weight and most importantly for your height.

Longer skis usually help carry your weight correctly, but short skis are excellent for beginners, offering better control. With the right instructions, you’ll find the middle ground that will be able to handle the additional force and pressure being put upon them. If you prefer buying products online, just go to your local shop and try a few skis on and see what size fits you, and then look for a better deal online!

The Footwear Is Essential

Skis are important, as well as ski boots! I’m always on the lookout for comfortable shoes that can give me the right support and enough space for the occasional swelling. When it comes to ski boots, my needs are similar, but I also understand that these shoes are different than my regular pair of trainers.

If you have large legs and feet make sure your ski boots have a wide calf, or that at least they can be adjusted to a broader setting. Bad fitting boots will make the whole experience “meh” to say the least, but most importantly they can impact more than just your mood, but also your joints, balance, and circulation!

When renting the boots make sure they fit you, and if not don’t settle for that first choice the resort staff offered you. Ask for a different, wider boot to protect your calves and ankles. No matter how perfect they are, ski boots can be a bit stiff, and it does take a bit of time to get used to them, but this in no way means that you’re supposed to suffer.

When you’re buying ski boots, make sure the staff shows you how to properly tighten them, so they don’t disturb you when you’re going down the slope. If you’re renting look for an expert to assist you in tightening them or tightening the pair you already own.

You can also find the right shoes online. The Rossignol Pure Comfort Ski boots, which you can check here on Amazon,  are designed for wider feet. Since they’re made for those of us who see skiing as a recreational activity the company has put some extra effort into making these comfortable, as well as warm and practical.

Always look for credible stores with great reviews and be picky. It can be tough, and I can be a shy person when it comes to asking for things, but I always push myself to ask for three to four different pairs to try on so I don’t settle for something less, and neither should you!

Don’t Forget Your Helmet

Another crucial piece of equipment that you don’t want to leave out is buying a helmet. No matter how large you are or how experienced you are, falls are just part of the experience of skiing and helmets will protect you from head injuries that can cause great damage and pain.

There are open-face helmets and full-face helmets out there, but since I use my OTG goggles, I prefer to use the open-face helmet, which is also lighter. But this is truly something you need to communicate with your ski instructor so you can find what will work best for you and your safety!

I also want to mention that while helmets can help reduce injuries, we still can’t rely on them 100%. Neurosurgeon Dr. William Couldwell states that “I think they do help in that if you do have an injury, they reduce some of the impact to the brain. The problem with ski helmets is that it also may give you a false sense of security.”

So, wear your helmet, and be careful as if you were not wearing one!

Tip 2: Warm Up Your Body

While skiing is fun and perfect, especially for those of you with a winter soul, it’s definitely not all peaches and roses. As a newbie my first experience was rough and it took me a lot of time to find my balance and control before I began enjoying the ride, more than I’d like to admit.

Large folks come in different shapes and sizes, and I don’t want to claim that my experience will reflect everyone’s. What I know though is that skiing is a form of exercise and just like any other activity warming up your body will help you enjoy skiing and avoid injuries.

Preparing your body doesn’t have to spoil the fun of skiing, all you have to do is use gentle exercises that will:

  • Increase blood flow to muscles and warm them up
  • Prepare your muscles for stretching
  • Prepare your muscles for the exercise that will follow, in this case, skiing
  • Prepare you mentally for the upcoming exercise
  • Prevent unnecessary stress, and fatigue from being placed on your muscles and heart

A 5-minute warm-up exercise can make a huge difference to your skiing experience, as well as a cool-down exercise! According to Mayo Clinic, “Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure.” Such exercises can involve moving your joints, hands, and legs to get the muscles going, and they can also include a walk anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. I personally enjoy multiple activities and I try to keep up with my yoga exercises to keep my flexibility at a satisfactory level.

Skiing will also show you where your body needs more work, for example, if you want to be more in control of your balance, you can incorporate exercises that strengthen your core. If you want to protect your knees and legs overall then I suggest you go for activities that help strengthen the thigh and calf muscles. I think if you feel passionate about skiing it can be an opportunity to explore more activities like hiking or more sports in general.

But if you want to stick to skiing and you really don’t want to get too physical, then a warmup is totally fine! It will give you the strength and that oomph you need to conquer any snowy peak!

Tip 3: Learn How To Get Up First

When I first thought of going to a winter resort and trying out skiing, I imagined myself soaring down the slopes like a snow queen, but when I had finally done my warm-up, the reality was very different from my over-the-top imagination.

The moment I stepped on the snow, I realized that I had to learn how to walk again, and if you’ve ever seen a baby learning how to walk then you know that this process involves falling. So, the biggest challenge for me was learning not only how to walk in skis or skiing, but learning how to get up.

When I looked around that first day, I also realized that every newbie struggled as much as I did and my weight had little to do with it. Our instructor explained that getting up was a matter of technique! During the first lessons, you should be learning how to get up from falling on a vertical plane, and flat terrain the latter being the most difficult place to get up from.

Tip 4: Use Skin Protection

I know most of us probably associate the winter months with frostbite, but what we tend to forget is that there are harmful UV rays all year round. According to the U.S, Environmental Protection Agency snow reflects the damaging rays of the sun and increases the chances of sunburn. The Skin Cancer Foundation also warns of the dangers the reflective snow poses, which reaches “up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV light.” Moreso, skiing without sunscreen is dangerous because UVB rays burn especially at high altitudes. The sun is also capable of penetrating through clouds and fog, so even on a cloudy day, you should prep your skin with some high SPF sunscreen.

Whenever I’m up in the mountains enjoying the winter snow while skiing, I make sure to use a moisturizing sunscreen to combat the dryness that comes with such activities, and I also try to avoid peak sun hours!

I’ve also noticed that my eyes are quite sensitive to the reflective snow. Since I wear glasses, you can imagine that looking for goggles that will fit over my prescription glasses was a real struggle, to say the least. My advice is to look for goggles that are labeled as over-the-glasses (OTG) goggles. I’ve been extremely happy with my OutdoorMaster OTG Ski Goggles from Amazon. These are specially designed to give your glasses room to sit naturally on your face without pushing them up against it, and the anti-fog lens helps you actually see where you’re going!

Last but not least, supply yourself with a creamy chapstick to keep your lips from drying out. I’ve done the mistake of not taking a lip balm once and let me tell you that the pain was no joke! And try not to lick your lips!

Tip 5: Take Care Of Your Knees

As you can imagine skiing can lead to injuries if we’re not careful and don’t have proper instructions and training. Falling can cause pain and injury to different parts of our body, but our knees usually take most of the fall. Such injuries can happen to any person regardless of weight but being larger can add extra pressure on the bones and joints that make up our knees.

WebMD suggests that no matter what exercise or physical activity you take up “make sure you start slow, warm-up, and learn the correct technique for any exercise that you do. Talk to your doctor if you already have knee pain so you don’t choose an activity that makes it worse.”

Since skiing can put extra pressure and force on your knees, listening to your body is extremely important. Any sign of pain, or discomfort especially in the leg area shouldn’t be ignored. Often times pushing ourselves is what leads to such injuries and not so much our body size.

As I’ll discuss later on, a ski instructor can help you understand how to properly position your body, and what angles will put less or more tension on your knees. With good training that takes into consideration your body weight, and time you’ll learn how to properly balance yourself and how to keep the skis from turning in different directions which can lead to a fall.

Skiing can be tough on everyone, but I understand that my size can add pressure to various joints, thankfully with the proper technique I’ve learned to distribute my force and control some of the pressure.

Tip 6: Keep Yourself Warm

One more thing that can ruin your winter holidays is feeling cold. Sure, feeling slightly cold and uncomfortable is not the end of the world, and as soon as you get on your skis you’ll most likely warm yourself up and will end up embracing the cool breeze as you work your body. Still, it’s important to layer your clothes to keep your body’s natural warmth in place. Wool socks, puffy jackets, gloves, and of course ski pants should be your top priority!

Look for fabrics like wool that actually work for you and not against you, and cover these layers with insulated jackets, and pants. When it comes to the undergarments there are plenty of snow pants that can work for a full figure. The Arctix Insulated Snow Pants that you can see on Amazon, are made of a multi-layered construction with a wind and water-resistant outer shell. 

Though when it comes to snow pants I myself prefer overalls. My back is pretty sensitive to cold drafts so these pants like the Artix Essential Insulated Bib Overalls are perfect for keeping the wind from creeping in. There are different sizes and lengths and I suggest you check out the reviews where plenty of fat folks have given their honest opinion on both pairs!

Tip 7: Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard!

Over the years, no matter what physical hobby I got into, proving myself was a subconscious and even conscious goal. Thankfully, I was lucky enough with most of the instructors that helped me realize that I need to think of myself and my body first.

No, sport, including skiing is something you can excel in in a day or a few.

Instead, it’s a long process of first feeling comfortable even standing on skis, and figuring out your capabilities as you go. The more you practice the easier it will get and soon enough it won’t be a struggle but pure fun!

I suggest you take your time, and as hard as it can be, try not to compare yourself with others. Expect to fall, the muscles in your body to burn as you move, and to get somewhat cold, after all, it’s winter and you’re on a mountain! Of course, it’s also important to listen to your body. If you feel tired, or any sort of pain take a break, sit in the lodge with a hot chocolate in one hand and a good book in the other.

Similarly, I believe you need to listen to your mood. If you don’t feel like skiing on one of the days, then that’s also completely fine.

I’m a firm believer in breaks, no matter how accustomed you are to exercise and even moreso if you’re not. Being too hard on yourself, will unable you from seeing your progress and you most likely will end up hating the sport, or worse, you’ll injure yourself. Trust in the process, and with time you’ll fall less, and you’ll last longer on the slopes.

Please, listen and respect your body and you’ll be rewarded!

Why Taking A Skiing Lesson Will Set You Up For Success?

Every new beginning can be scary and tough, that’s why I think having someone to guide you in your baby ski boot steps will not only guarantee an enjoyable experience, but also a safe one. Following instructions from a friend or a loved one can also be tricky no matter how experienced they are, and chances are you both will lose your patience with one another.

I truly believe that taking lessons when you first try to dabble in winter sports like skiing is money and time well spent. Having a heavier figure also means that our bodies need a different approach and an instructor that will keep in mind that our joints and back are under more pressure.

I’d suggest you also have a talk with your instructor beforehand. I for example am used to straining activities, that doesn’t mean I’m an expert, but it gives me an advantage in warmup and cool-down exercises. If you’re a newbie, let your instructor know so they can pay more attention to your performance and help you adjust your posture in time, thus preventing injuries from happening.

You might be wondering what you should expect from ski classes, well depending on the resort, there’s a list of things you’ll go through and learn.

  • You’ll learn special techniques on preventing injuries, and protecting the ligaments in your knees from getting pulled the wrong way.
  • You’ll learn how to balance yourself in different situations and manage your center of gravity, like keeping your arms forward and your hands over the skis.
  • You’ll be taught how to properly fall, by keeping your skis together and your knees flexed.
  • You’ll also need to learn how to stop without falling.

Of course, these are just a few of the basic techniques that are part of skiing lessons, and with time you’ll find out more about this sport, how to maneuver yourself in different situations, and most importantly how to have fun!

How Can Your Weight Affect Your Skiing Experience?

Trying new things and diving into different physical activities is a great way of exploring our bodies and minds, and while I don’t think weight is an obstacle, it still creates a unique experience for larger folks, and I think it’s worth exploring what that means!

The Advantages of Being a Fat Skier

Learning how to ski is a challenge for every new skier, but as we learn to adjust our bodies and keep our balance fat people have two great advantages.

Our center of gravity is lower so we’re more stable and we’re also faster. Fat riders for example have more gravitational energy, but the same can be said about fat skiers that are going downhill. Since, downhill skiing is something we can truly excel in then some of you might actually want to know that this type of skiing is an excellent cardiovascular workout, and it helps burn a lot of calories.

Basically, as downhill skiers we’re unstoppable!

The Challenges of Being a Fat Skier

The main challenge I found myself facing as did some of my larger friends, was getting back up. This of course can be difficult for different kinds of people, but after a long day of skiing, falling and getting back up can leave me breathless for a minute or two.

Falling as well as being faster means that we have to pay more attention to our instructor’s advice. Finding the right equipment is also crucial in this and can be difficult, but these are all setbacks we can easily overcome and enjoy skiing as a fun recreational sport.

Do Ski Lifts Have A Weight Limit Too?

Skiing is one of the great experiences you can have when visiting a winter resort, and when you’re done riding the pure white mountainsides it’s only natural that you’ll want to take a ride on the ski lifts.

Part of the experience of rocking a large figure is taking that aspect of ourselves into consideration when taking up an activity, from horse riding to skateboarding, and parasailing weight limits tend to creep up on us. When it comes to ski lifts the same concerns may arise, and rest assured in most resorts there’s no such thing as a weight limit.

Depending on the winter resort you’re visiting, and the kind of ski lifts they’re offering, these bad boys are designed to hold a multitude of people depending on the cabin size. There are 9-person chairlifts, or 20-people gondola lifts and the list goes on.

If that’s something that’s bugging your mind, then I suggest giving your ski resort a call and asking what type of ski lifts they operate and if there’s a limit.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Skiing For Fat People?

Skiing is a fun activity and for me, it’s the best way to survive through the winter blues. Skiing also offers plenty of health benefits, even if it only looks like you’re sliding down a hill.

1. Skiing Burns Calories

Skiing is a great cardiovascular exercise that pushes your whole body and increases your stamina! With the additional cold and through skiing itself you’ll be able to burn through a lot of calories.

To be even more precise Harvard Medical School showed that 30 minutes of different ski activities, like going downhill or cross-country skiing can burn 252 and 293 calories if you’re 185 pounds. It compared different weights, but the result basically showed that the heavier you are the more calories you burn.

2. Skiing Strengthens Your Lower Body

As I’ve mentioned many times before, skiing requires technique and proper equipment to keep your knees and joints safe from injury. As you learn how to ski, you’ll actually be working on strengthening that sensitive part of your body. According to the University of New Hampshire, “When you ski you carry the weight of your entire body on your feet. Your knees are the joints that endure that weight and must be able to move quickly despite it, so they are being strengthened when you ski.”

That’s why skiing is a great activity for larger folks, and it will help prevent knee damage in the future even when you’re not gliding down a slope, as well as osteoporosis!

3. Skiing Engages Your Core Muscles and Improves Flexibility

Balance is what helps you keep your body steady and upright and to achieve this kind of focus and balance you need to force your core muscles to work hard. At the same time, the effort of trying to balance yourself on two skis by engaging your core muscles affects your flexibility. All those twists and turns mean that you’ll have to be able to command and execute these movements frequently and swiftly. Research done on elite Alpine skiers revealed “the importance of muscular strength, anaerobic power, anaerobic endurance, aerobic endurance, coordination, agility, balance, and flexibility.”

Of course, our goal is not to become Alpine skiers or to compete with them, but their experience shows us how greatly skiing affects our bodies!

4. Skiing Improves Your Mood

No matter which activity you take up getting outdoors even if it’s just for a walk down the park is bound to increase the endorphins, also known as the happy hormone in your brain. Going away to a winter resort for a weekend or more is not only a refreshing change from a daunting routine, but it’s a great opportunity to try something new and exciting like skiing.

Winter doesn’t have to be a cloudy and inert season, and skiing can bring balance not only to your body as you learn to control your skis but also to your mind as you discover a new hobby and scenery, and new people. I truly recommend it to those of you who have seasonal depression, because skiing can truly make winter not only bearable but also enjoyable!

Is There Fat Representation In Skiing?

I try not to let my weight define me, or dictate my lifestyle, but as brave as I might sound, there are days and even weeks where I feel my motivation running out. One thing that truly helps me reignite my passion for the outdoors is of course my loved ones, but also as strange as it may sound the internet.

The Internet can be a positive space for fat folks as well as immensely fatphobic, but I try to exert my control on what I see and what comes up on my feed as much as possible. My selective feed is where I can learn new things, meet new people, but also see myself represented. It’s not always easy, but I try to make every platform a place of comfort and I want to help you achieve the same sense each time you click to see what’s new out there.

One of the people you might want to follow on Instagram is Mirna Valerio. This wonder-woman moved to Vermont to train in the snow, to learn how to ski and conquer the snow hills. Depending on the season you’ll see her take up different activities, but when it’s cold and snowy you’ll find her love for skiing contagious and inspiring! You might even hear her call for you, saying, “Hey you-come out and play in the snow with me!”

Fat representation in winter sports isn’t easy to find, but I’m so happy I discovered Melody Forsyth! She’s an amazing adventurer and a mother of a beautiful girl with down syndrome. Together they embark on journeys that will motivate you and encourage you to take up the mountain hills whether they’re covered in snow or not.

Melody’s tips on Ski Utah truly resonated with me, especially these words “I am loving skiing and will continue to do it because I CAN and because I love it. I will continue to take up space on the slopes, and I hope that you will too.”

My Final Thoughts

I truly hope that by reaching the end of this snow-covered hill with me I’ve managed to convince you that fat people can ski! Taking over this winter sport and filling your lungs with the crispy cold air is an experience worth having no matter what you weigh.

While representation matters, we also need to be part of it and push the notion that we have the right to have fun everywhere, in any sport, even in the snow as much as anyone else!

I implore you to at least try skiing once and to always live life big!

Camila R.

Camila is a body positive blogger and fat activist that's focused on helping people of all sizes live life big! That means accepting yourself at any size and just enjoying life! She lives in New Mexico with her husband and two chihauhuas.

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