Do the après-ski stretch

Leslie Woit discovers the benefits of a yoga workout on a ski holiday in the Dolomites

I don't associate skiing with healthiness. If you do it like most people – for a week, once a year, using knee joints and leg muscles that do little else for the other 51 weeks – a sudden ski trip can be a first-class ticket to a World of Pain. And that's before you factor in long nights, high altitude, sun exposure, and filling your body with as much glühwein as possible. Despite what some people want to believe, skiing doesn't make you fit.

Enter Fitscape, a company with designs on getting you fitter and healthier, while taking you skiing. On the company's Ski Dolomite weeks, the day starts with a 7am stretch class, before skiing with a host and or local ski instructor, then returning to the hotel for a 45-minute fitness session followed by an hour of yoga.

We stayed in the heart of the coral-tinged splendour of the Italian Dolomites, in the tiny village of San Cassiano. Its five-star Hotel Rosa Alpina, as legendary as it is beautiful, is a shrine to gourmet decadence, within a fork-stabbing of the two-Michelin-starred St Hubertus restaurant, a cork pull from a cellar full of top South Tirolean wines, and a few slipper-padded steps from the award-stealing Daniela Steiner spa. All this and a workout too? Give me strength.

Immediately Fitscape instructors James and George put us at ease. "It's your holiday, not a boot camp," George insists. And he seems unfazed when attendance at his fitness sessions drops. Likewise, James, our yoga guru, appears good humoured when stretch class numbers shrink. The group – a mix of solos, couples and mates – have the freedom to do as they wish.

Everyone skis or boards each day, of course. The group is split into two, with a local instructor each. Every afternoon, about half of us took consistent advantage of après-ski yoga. This was more like "flow yoga" than posture-challenging practice, with James, a reformed City trader now based in Ibiza, focusing on therapeutic loosening of specific ski-addled muscles. Several in the group were yoga newbies, and he handed out blocks and cords to aid the inflexible. Carefully and conscientiously he adjusted our limbs and gave direction, peppering our practice with tips to the path of good health. One suggestion was the at-home internal organ massage: apparently you can do your liver good by lying on your back and pulling your leg over your right hip (though put down your drink first).

"Inhaaale, exhaaale!" he intoned with convincing vibrato as we held our downward dog position, hands down, bums high in the air. James told us that this was our "rest position". Someone in the back snorted in disbelief. I opened my eyes briefly and caught an upside-down glimpse of a waiter passing by with a bucket of champagne. He winked. I felt his zen.

"I was interested to see the difference it would make," said Kirsty, an accountant from south London. "Usually when I've gone skiing with friends we were straight into après-ski on the mountain, then more of it off the mountain, then stay out really late. We would wake up feeling crippled. This morning, I didn't feel stiff at all."

Satisfied with her little experiment, Kirsty wasn't to be seen again, instead spending her time after skiing enjoying the lavish spa (this one is the world headquarters for the whole Daniela Steiner empire), reading and relaxing. Each evening, we'd convene in the stylish hotel bar for après-ski with Giorgia, the loveliest bartender in the Dolomites, who ministered many life-affirming glasses of the excellent local red wine, soignée in her smart Prada-esque frock. Like all the staff here, the smiles and charms of family-run Rosa Alpina are unparalleled. Even if yoga isn't on your radar, this all-inclusive deal makes a stay at a normally very pricey Relais & Chateaux property temptingly affordable.

"Our only decisions are where to ski and where to have lunch," observes Stuart, back for his second Fitscape week at the Rosa Alpina, It's a tempting conundrum in Alta Badia with 500km of pistes circling the Sella massif, as well the larger Dolomiti Superski area on one lift pass. Then again, just a few hours after wolfing down an amazingly tasty bowl of arrabiata, I was cross-legged on the floor trying in vain to hold in my stomach. "Send your arms to the ground, bow your head, and relax your eyelids," said James. "Raise your lips up in a smile and take a moment to feel gratitude for the person you are."

I paused to tuck in my legs to make way for Andrea, nipping out in time to make it downstairs for her 6pm massage. And that's OK. Because whether you're on the mat or the mountain, there are many different pistes to enlightenment.

Travel Essentials

Getting there

The closest airports to San Cassiano are Treviso, served by Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) from Stansted and East Midlands; and Innsbruck, served by easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyJet.com) from Bristol, Liverpool and Gatwick, BA (0844 493 0787.ba.com) from Gatwick and Monarch (08719 40 50 40; flymonarch .com) from Manchester.

Staying there

Fitscape (020-8968 0501; fitscape.co.uk) offers a week at Rosa Alpina in the Dolomiti Superski area from £1,875pp with accommodation, all fitness sessions, daily yoga, six days of guided skiing, half board and airport transfers. Flights extra. Next departure: 17 March. For bookings made before the end of January, customers receive up to £200 towards their flights.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn