Not into snow sports? That’s a dirty little secret in Denver, where it sometimes seems as if the entire population is into skiing or snowboarding (I-70 traffic to and from the resorts only confirms this suspicion). But fun new introductory classes offered at REI‘s downtown location help beginners get slope-savvy—and the lessons start before you even reach the snow.

REI partnered with Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors to offer Learn to Ski or Snowboard classes that combine classroom time with on-snow instruction. That classroom component makes these courses different from most ski and snowboard lessons, which assume you already know how to get yourself (and all the necessary equipment) to the slopes.

People who are already savvy to the ski-resort routine know how to dress, where to park, what to leave behind in the car—details that can seem intimidatingly confusing to the uninitiated. So REI builds in a 90-minute, in-store introduction that covers strategies for regulating your temperature, required and optional equipment, and what to expect on your first day as a skier or snowboarder.

The following day, participants head to Winter Park for a full-day lesson on the snow. After that, you’ll never again feel left out of the slope-talk around the water cooler.

The first Learn to Ski or Snowboard class sold out, but spots are still left for the remaining three sessions (on January 25, February 8, and February 22). The $205 course fee ($185 for REI members) includes transportation to and from Winter Park, lift ticket, equipment rental, instruction—even lunch. Click here for course descriptions and registration.

—Image courtesy of Kelly Bastone