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Snowboarding is an exciting, fun, and active winter sport! That being said snowboarding is inherently intense, and a little daunting to newbies!
As a big person, the beginner’s fear of snowboarding can feel even worse! You even start to wonder if fat people can really snowboard.
But, I’m here to tell you it is possible to snowboard as a bigger person.
With the right preparation, you can start to learn snowboarding, even if you’re fat. It’s important to make sure you are reasonably fit and flexible enough to get up when you fall. The right gear and the right fit will make a huge difference in the quality of your first experience!
Being prepared is essential to enjoying your first snowboard trip. Let’s talk about some special preparations you want to make as a plus-sized person.
Do Snowboards Have A Weight Limit?
The first big thing you need to know about snowboarding is whether or not snowboards have weight limits!
Snowboards don’t have weight limits or maximum weight capacity where they’ll break (at least not a weight that humans need to worry about) but instead, they have weight recommendations. Following these weight recommendations can usually make snowboards easier to use.
The snowboard that you choose is always based on your size whether or not you’re fat. Kids get smaller boards than adults and heavier people will usually want a wider, longer board.
The reason for this is that snowboarding is all about gliding over and on top of the snow. When you weigh a lot, you need more area under your feet to help you glide. This prevents you and your board from sinking into the soft snow and getting stuck. And trust me, you don’t want to get stuck!
To help give you a better idea of what snowboard you should be looking for based on your weight I’ve put together this chart based on several snowboard makers. However, you’ll quickly notice that just about anyone of size, even if you’re not especially tall, will be recommended a larger snowboard.
That’s not a hard and fast rule, but it is a good starting point and you can see the full chart here:
(feet and inches)
|140 to 150
|148 to 154
|5′ 2″ to 5′ 3″
|130 to 145
|150 to 160
|151 to 156
|5’4″ to 5’5″
|140 to 152
|160 to 170
|152 to 158
|5’6″ to 5’7″
|148 to 155
|170 to 180
|153 to 159
|5’8″ to 5’9″
|152 to 157
|180 to 190
|155 to 161
|5’10” to 5’11”
|154 to 160
|190 to 200
|157 to 163
|6’0 to 6’1″
|156 to 163
|200 to 210
|158 to 165
|6’2″ to 6’3″
|158 to 167
|More than 210
|159 to 168
|Taller than 6′ 4″
|160 to 170
Do the Lifts Have A Weight Limit?
Another big hurdle to snowboarding as a plus-sized person is the ski lift!
The few times I have been snowboarding, this was always the scariest part for me! The lift moves quickly, so getting on and off can be a struggle. And unfortunately, the lift operators aren’t always going to slow down the lift for you.
But, the good news is there aren’t any weight limits on these lifts- at least no firm weight limits like you’d expect to see with kayaks, parasailing, or other outdoor activities. Ski lifts are 100% safe to ride regardless of your size, or at least the size of any human and the weight capacity is several tons.
One tip for riding a ski lift as a bigger person is to sit alone on the lift. I know you might want to sit with your group but you could cause a big imbalance on the chair if you sat on the edge.
This is honestly better because it inevitably gives you more time and room for getting on and off the lift!
What Are The Advantages of Being a Fat Snowboarder?
Just like with anything else in life, there are pros and cons to snowboarding as a fat person.
You Are Stronger Than You Think!
We all know that just because you’re fat doesn’t mean that you aren’t strong! Actually, you might be packing a significantly greater amount of muscle than a typical skinny person.
This strength will help you so much in snowboarding! Just like with skateboarding, you need to have strong legs and a strong core to snowboard. Even when getting started, strength will be your friend.
Balance doesn’t come to everyone naturally but strong muscles are a great way to start getting your balance on your snowboard!
Your Center of Gravity is Lower!
If you put a very tall, lean person next to a plus-sized person and try to push them both over, who will fall easier?
Odds are, the thinner person would fall over easier because their center of gravity is not low to the ground. For most plus-sized people, our center of gravity is usually around our stomachs, at our heaviest point!
This low center of gravity can actually help your balance so much, so take advantage of it! It’s the same advantage that bigger folks have with any activity focused around standing up on a board, whether it’s in the snow or in the water.
What Are The Disadvantages of Being a Fat Snowboarder?
Strength and a low center of gravity are huge wins for a new snowboarder! But, there are a few other things that can be a real disadvantage when snowboarding as a big person.
You Might Have a Harder Time Breathing
When you’re fat, you can still be super strong! But usually, when you have are plus-sized, your respiratory system isn’t at 100%
As a plus size woman, I know that I have to work harder to start cardiovascularly fit. And don’t worry, this isn’t some kind of self fat shaming, it’s just scientifically proven and the extra fat you carry around affects your lungs. Of course, you can still have some level of cardiovascular fitness even if you’re overweight, but we’re talking about averages here.
When you snowboard, you are generally doing this on a mountain! This means you are also going to be at altitude. Being at altitude makes breathing harder, especially while exercising.
It’s a good idea to acclimate to the altitude a little before going snowboarding! Take a few days to do some walks and make sure that you feel comfortable breathing thinner, mountain air,
You Need To Be Extra Flexible.
Another thing that can be a disadvantage while snowboarding is your belly! Because it can get in the way when you bend over, you will need to be extra flexible to snowboard. But don’t worry, you can absolutely be fat and flexible.
While snowboarding, you will need to regularly reach down to your boots to adjust or unstrap them. This means that you will need to be able to touch your toes somehow.
Being big really only makes this harder. So, make sure you stretch well and often in the few weeks leading up to your first snowboarding trip.
5 Tips For Getting Started
If you are determined to go snowboarding, I support you! But, you need to make sure you are prepared. Everyone needs to do some level of preparation for their first time snowboarding.
I’m sharing five tips to make sure you get the most out of your experience!
Tip 1 – Warm Up Before You Start!
One of the easiest ways to injure yourself on the mountain is to start going downhill without warming up first!
Doing a light 5-minute exercise can increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for the exercise that’s coming soon! This can be something as simple as a few stretches before leaving the parking lot on the way to the mountain!
It will make you feel more comfortable and ready to go when the time comes, and protect you from injuries!
Tip 2 – Stay Warm With the Right Gear
After your muscles have warmed up, it’s also important to make sure your entire body stays warm! In my opinion, nothing is worse than feeling cold and tired in the middle of your snowboarding session.
As a fat person, the right gear can be hard to come by. New snow gear is notoriously expensive, and plus sizes can be even more costly. But, the chances of finding a comfortable rental snowsuit or a used one are pretty low.
You want your pants to be comfortable around your waist while standing and sitting because you will be doing a lot of both. You also want to make sure your jacket can zip completely closed, just in case it turns out to be a cold day.
The right layers can make or break your trip.
Tip 3 – Protect Your Skin
Many people don’t associate the snow with sunburns. But, trust me, you can get a very bad burn while snowboarding.
This tip isn’t fat exclusive, but it is important. You need to wear sunscreen, especially if this is your first time spending the day in the snow. Snow reflects UV rays and intensifies them, even more so than water does!
You might not realize how badly you are being burnt until the next day, but it could easily ruin a trip if you have a bad sunburn on your face!
Not only is the sun a danger to your exposed skin while snowboarding but the wind can also hurt your sensitive skin. The wind while heading down the slopes can cause your lips to become dry and irritated. Make sure you’ve got some good chapstick handy!
Tip 4 – Protect Your Head
If you are going to snowboard as a total beginner, I highly recommend wearing a helmet! While this isn’t a requirement, it’s just common sense.
AS a newbie, you’re going to fall, a lot! That’s just part of the learning experience! Sometimes when you fall, you fall fast onto your back, and your head can whip into the ground.
Sometimes, the snow is very soft and forgiving, but if the snow isn’t fresh “powder,” it’s going to feel like falling on hard ground. A helmet protects your head from these hard falls!
Tip 5 – Take a Lesson.
Even though this is my last tip this is probably also my most important tip!
Almost all ski resorts have instructors available for hire. There is no shame in this! I recently learned how to surf and having an instructor made a huge difference in my learning!
An instructor can help you feel comfortable on the slopes and on the snowboard itself. They will give you tips about how to stand on the board. They will also teach you the etiquette of the mountain, which is important to keep you and everyone around you safe.
An instructor can also make sure all of your gear is fitted properly. This helps especially when it’s your first time!
Is Snowboarding Good Exercise?
Snowboarding is not good exercise, it’s great exercise!
Snowboarding is a cardiovascular sport that improves your endurance and strengthens your heart! This sport will have your heart rate and breathing elevated every time!
Snowboarding is also a great weight-bearing sport. This type of activity will strengthen your bones and muscles. Doing this sort of exercise helps protect your body in the future!
Is Snowboarding Hard to Learn?
Snowboarding takes time to master, just like any sport!
But, luckily, you can start from any level and any size! This video shows a woman who weighs 350lbs learning how to snowboard! And she does a great job!
If that isn’t making you want to try this sport, I don’t know what will!
Now, you’re probably not going to be doing anything fancy while you are just learning. But, if you take a few lessons, and feel confident, you should be able to snowboard down the mountain on your own!
Is Snowboarding Dangerous?
Unfortunately, snowboarding is a relatively dangerous sport!
While you won’t be running into bears on the beginner slopes, there are a few other hazards to watch out for.
Injuries from snowboarding are disproportionately higher among beginners. This is because snowboarding does take skill and practice, and at first you will fall a lot!
These falls usually lead to sprains or fractures, but can sometimes lead to more serious situations like a concussion. Luckily, a concussion should be easy to avoid while wearing a helmet! And hopefully, you won’t be going fast enough to fracture a bone. Warming up should help prevent sprains or torn muscles.
But please don’t be discouraged! Every time I go snowboarding, I always come back with a small assortment of bumps and bruises! When you’re not a professional, it’s normal! And in a weird way, it is part of the fun too.
So, Can You Really Snowboard When You’re Plus-Size?
Yes, you absolutely can and it’s far from the only winter activity that bigger folks can enjoy!
But, just because you can doesn’t mean you should go running to the slopes today!
Make sure that you are prepared. This means that you should stretch, and practice getting up from the ground. You should also try to acclimate to the altitude so that you can breathe easier. You need to make sure that the resort can provide you with the right size gear. Otherwise, you will need to invest in your own.
The most important thing you need to do when you decide to try snowboarding though is, HAVE FUN!
This is a sport that is enjoyable and thrilling. Don’t forget to enjoy the process of learning something new and to have fun.