20,000 steps.  I looked at the my Fitbit again, just to make sure I’d read it correctly.  Yep, 4 p.m. and it says 20,000 steps.  Did I just go on a long hike?  Did I run ten miles through along the paths of Boulder?  Nope.  Just a simple day of teaching (or trying to teach) 3-year olds the fine art of downhill skiing.

Keeping track of your exercise habits using technology is the latest, greatest fad.  And it’s true that obesity and all the medical issues that accompany it is a huge problem in this country.  So, if wearing a bracelet style watch gizmo can encourage you to be more active, so be it.

I’ve been fortunate in my life, that many of my chosen jobs have required more activity and less sitting at a desk, a very good thing.  Studies have been proven that sitting at a desk for eight hours or more a day contributes to heart disease, even if you do try to exercise before or after work.  More optimal is to keep moving throughout the day.

So what better way to stay active during the winter months, than to work as a ski instructor?  I, like most, of course, thought my time teaching skiing, would be spent actually skiing myself as well.  Silly me!

My day starts with the line up and the morning meeting.  We dress in our distinctive ski instructor uniforms and file out to the kids area.  Many of us are assigned various jobs — checking kids in, organizing kids into groups, etc.  It is during this time, I am told to report to the Red Room – the room where the 3-4 year olds are dropped off, most of them for the very first ski time on skis.

I now know this is going to be a challenging day.

It’s not that I don’t like 3-year olds — they are sweet in that cute, toothy innocent way.  Unfortunately, 3-year olds also have very little muscle strength and coordination, which can make it tough to make snowplow or “pizza” wedges.  And while skiing is about sliding, it is just as much about stopping, controlling speed, and making turns using wedges.

After playing some indoor games, we don helmets, gloves, jackets to go out to the very, very small bunny slope.  We play more games — like scootering on one ski, and turning ourselves around in circles, smushing our boots to keep the snow worms out.

Finally, the big moment arrives — they shuffle over to get on the “magic carpet.”  The magic carpet is a conveyor like device that hauls the kid to the top of the bunny slope using a conveyor system — kids stand on it and eventually end up at the top of the hill, where they shuffle off.

We set up a team system with using three instructors — one loading them on the carpet, one unloading, and me in the middle of the hill, to provide encouragement and safely help kids who start to zip too quickly, like little runaway trains.

I find myself going up and down the hill, scooping up kids hither and yon, as well as catching them in my arms as they make their debut skiing.

But a strange thing happens along the way.  These kids, most of whom spent the morning crying, “I want my mom”, are now smiling.  They are laughing.  They fall down, but with a little help, get back up and head right back on the magic carpet.  They are seemingly having a good time.

Though most don’t master the art of the pizza stop, they have mastered the art of sliding on the snow, all at the tender age of 3 and 4 years old.

And though during this particular day of skiing, I really haven’t skied at all, I do get the added bonus of 20,000 steps on my Fitbit.

All in the day of the life of a ski instructor.