Vail Valley instructor teaches a different way to be a better skier by Scott N. Miller, Vail Daily 1/7/2010

Maurice Sandler is convinced he skis better when he comes to Vail every year because Margaret McIntyre helps leads him through some indoor exercises every year.

Sandler, a urologist by profession, is a longtime client of McIntyre, a ski instructor and trainer who uses the “Feldenkrais” method of helping people get the best from their own bodies.

“Every year we have her for three days of Feldenkrais training at the start of our vacation,” Sandler said. “It sets us up for skiing, and for the rest of the year.”

McIntyre has been working with private clients and holding seminars at Vail for more than 20 years. Her “Dynamic Skiing for Life” seminars — the next one is Jan. 24 — 28 — is one of Vail Resorts’ “signature” programs, a collection of private sessions that includes Pepi’s Wedel Weeks. For the last 10 years, she’s lived in Hawaii, but has returned to Vail in the winters to teach skiing and her “integrated movement” classes.

Feldenkrais training can be hard to explain, but the core idea is fairly simple: relatively simple changes in posture and vision can lead to more freedom of movement and better performance from just about any body.

McIntyre is a believer, of course, and at age 66, she also believes she’s a walking advertisement for her courses. She also has a group of longtime clients who also believe that some simple floor exercises can lead to having more fun in the snow — or on the golf course.

“I can improve anybody,” McIntyre said. “I’ve worked with patients at the Jimmie Heuga center and I teach seniors at Maui.”

Client Lynne Smithan said skiing after a Feldenkrais tune-up with McIntyre makes skiing “effortless, and nothing aches.”

“We ski with other people and they get achy and tired,” she added. “And I feel like I can get down almost anything.”

Beyond improving her skiing, Smithan’s husband, Peter, first came to McIntyre about 15 years ago with a bad back that he didn’t want to have surgically repaired.

“He would literally crawl onto her (physical therapy) table and then dance off,” Smithan said. And, 15 years later, he still hasn’t had surgery.

A native of New Zealand, McIntyre came to Vail for the same reasons so many people do — for a chance to start fresh at a big mountain.

“I was told I’d never be a really good skier until I’d skied a really big mountain, so I came to Vail,” McIntyre said.

She came in 1979 and started work in the ski school. In her 30s, she taught her first ski lessons, but she’d already been working with other instructors. At first, they didn’t believe some simple floor exercises could improve someone’s skiing, but many came to see it first-hand.

And McIntyre loves coming back every winter.

“I can help golfers, but skiing is the sport I’m best at and passionate about,” McIntyre said. “There’s such an energy in ski groups — it’s fun!”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or