It's time to get in shape before the big trip, now that you've planned your family ski vacation. Overall fitness is key to any athletic vacation, and especially important if you are traveling to a higher altitude.

Chad Wolk is a competitive level coach, as well as conditioning coach for the [R314R, Park City] Ski Team in Utah. While early-season, dryland training is important for his high-end athletes, there are things everyone can do, whether you are planning to race competitively or not. Wolk says, "Cross training is very important, such as playing games, running, lifting weights, mountain biking, and other agility and strength movements." Other good cross training would be soccer, swim team, or just biking to school.

"Cardio is important to have because whenever you go on a trip like this, you need to have your endurance built up to allow you to ski for the whole trip. If you don't have that base, you won't be able to make it through that four- or five-day ski trip."

Wolk adds that leg strength is important. "Do a free-standing squat for time, as opposed to number. For one minute, do a squat on both legs. If you're already in pretty good shape and doing a squat is easy for you, then switch to a single leg squat. You can do that in your living room."

Other leg strength ideas are hiking, or stepping up onto a box that is between a foot and 18 inches high, or run stairs in a stadium.

"If you're doing something, it's better than doing nothing. If you can be outside and be active as opposed to just going home from school and sitting in front of the computer or TV, you'll have a good time on the snow," says Wolk.

Tasha Nelson is a two-time Olympian and coach with the [R89R, Buck Hill] Ski Club in Minnesota. She says you need a good aerobic base, which you can get by running, biking, or jumping rope. She also says squats and lunges are good, either standing in place or walking lunges.

"With racing kids, we do a lot of sprinting and jumping over boxes for agility and quickness. And we do a lot of core strength like sit ups, or back ups." A back up is where you lay on your stomach, put your hands behind your head, lift your head, and back up off the ground.

"Basically you need to be in good shape and especially your legs because your legs get used a lot," says Nelson.

Tom Murphy is with [R419R, Squaw Valley USA] in California and he had a younger perspective, as his kids are two and four years old, and not racing yet. "What we like to do is have them put on their socks and ski boots and skis and we pull them around on a towel on the kitchen floor to give them the sensation of the movement. Then their dynamic balance is already there, and they are trying to balance while they are in motion."

He adds that the jolt start is similar to riding a Magic Carpet.

Kids also can get exercise on the stairs. At Murphy's house, they slide down the carpeted stairs, on a towel or blanket, or even a cafeteria tray. "It's great at home as kids are comfortable in their own environment. They get excited about it and recognize their equipment. Everything isn't foreign to them."

More fun can be found out in the yard. "Find some boulders and jump from one to another, or climb on them."