Canadians are heading outdoors to exercise as their gyms and fitness studios close across the country, resulting in a spike in cross-country ski sales.
The demand has left local ski shops scrambling to restock supplies.
“The phone rings about 15 times a day for cross-country equipment,” said Jodi Mcavoy, manager of The Skier’s Sportshop in Edmonton.
“There is a desperate want… I have never seen anything like this.”
Jodi Mcavoy, manager at The Skier’s Sportshop in Edmonton, said her shop has already surpassed all of last years sales.
Ski shops in Regina are also experiencing similar interests in back-country activities. Cooper Albano, an employee at Sunshine and Ski, said shops across Canada are running very low on stock, with only a couple of skis left.
“We have reordered from Europe but I would wait until mid-December at least,” said Albano.
The desire to explore outdoor winter activities is largely due to the pandemic. Canadians are looking for ways to keep their family active in a safe manner. The restrictions on travel have also pushed snowbirds to find new ways to spend the winter months.
“People who used to go on warm vacations, golfers who went to Palm Springs, I see a lot of these people coming back to cross-country,” said Mcavoy.
The increased interest in outdoor activities has proven beneficial not only for the local shops, but for the mental health of Canadians.
Aimee Skye, Psychology Chair at Grant MacEwan University, said exercise keeps us mentally and physically strong. Physical activities also serve as a stress reducing factor.
“Just taking a break from the computer and the things we have to do. Taking a break, heading out, and enjoying some time in nature.”
Skye addressed the challenges that students may have with the closing of school gyms. She added that it is our responsibility to create new opportunities for exercise.
“It is something that we have to work harder at making ourselves do,” said Skye. “Some of the opportunities that we might have taken advantage of before — being at the university and going to the gym — we’re not doing that anymore.”
Mcavoy, who grew up cross-country skiing, said that while the activity may be new to many people, it connects families back to nature.
“Growing up it was something we did and those were some of the best memories of being outside together as a family,” said Mcavoy.
Tom Groot, an Edmonton skier who began skiing two years ago for the fresh air and good exercise, said he is impressed with the amount of people on the trails.
Seeing the trails packed with young families has been a pleasant surprise for those who aren’t new to the sport.
“People aren’t able to travel, meet up, and go to bars,” said Groot. “It’s a good activity because you can do it anywhere.”