World Cup Alpine Ski Racer Marie-Michèle Gagnon on Embracing Winter Fitness

The two-time Olympian chats about embracing winter sports, staying warm and her favourite fitness foods.

Photo credit: Pentaphoto and Alpine Canada

What’s your advice on getting motivated to exercise outside in the dead of winter?
Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing after a fresh snowfall is so magical with the sun making the snow sparkle and fresh crisp air in your lungs. There are many training groups you can join in your community, or just ask some friends to meet up!

Any tips on staying warm and comfortable while exercising in the cold?
It’s not always about how many layers you wear. If you’re going to sweat, I recommend some lightweight breathable gear, waterproof shoes or boots. It’s also really important to pick base layers that have wicking properties so that the sweat is pulled away from your body. The Canadian Alpine Ski Team uses Helly Hansen from head to toe during the winter to stay warm, dry and comfortable. When we ski and it’s really cold, we use some “hot shots” for our hands, and some people even use heated socks and boot heaters. Skiing in Quebec can get really cold, so these tricks were a must for us growing up.

What kinds of activities do you recommend for some fun outdoor winter fitness?
Cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, fat bikes, snowshoeing, skating on a frozen lake or even the good old rink, building your own sledding track, make an igloo, long walks in the fresh air.

Do you have a fave winter training food?
I love making my own granola bars! You can get creative with ingredients. Also, smoothies with raw beets, kale, frozen mangos, coconut milk, chia seeds and hemp seeds (or whatever frozen fruit I have!).

What’s your advice to women who are nervous about trying a new sport?
Try it with a friend that knows the sport or your partner. It helps to share the experience with someone. Otherwise, there is a school for almost every sport, where teachers will really help you through it and go your own pace. I find that learning a new sport is one of the most exhilarating things.

Follow Marie-Michèle on Instagram @mmgagnon for more winter fitness inspiration.