With the proper guidance, you can take up a sport that is equal parts fun and full-body workout. It’s no secret that cross-country skiing provides an invigorating cardiovascular workout. It utilizes all the major muscle groups, it’s low impact and it’s a great way to get outdoors in the winter. For many people, the benefits all make sense, but the problem is getting started.

Even though the concept is simple, choosing the right equipment can be a challenge, and it can take a while to master the basics enough to feel comfortable out on the trails. The key to mastering any new activity is to just take that first step and get going, so here are five tips to help you get out there and get up to speed as quickly as possible.

1. Choose Your Style

Before you begin skiing, you must decide what style of cross-country skiing, or “Nordic skiing”, is right for you. Nordic skiing can be split into two distinct styles: classic and skate. Classic is the more traditional form of cross-country skiing, and is the one that most beginners learn when they first start out. Classic cross-country skiing uses a kicking and gliding motion as you lean slightly forward. The skate style, on the other hand, requires skiers to use a V-pattern as you push off each ski, similar to ice skating. This skate style is more complex and harder to master, but also allows you to build up more speed. Once you determine which style you’re going to use, you can then turn your focus to equipment, safety practices and technique.

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