Five boat-friendly exercises to get your body ready for cruising (published February 2013)
• Begin with the top of one foot on the fender with your other foot flat on the ground in front
• Drop down into a lunge,
allowing the fender to roll
back as you lower down
• Be sure to keep your body in an upright position and drop your hips straight down in
between your legs
• Return to starting position and repeat for the set number of repetitions
• Hold onto the forestay or equivalent to aide your balance if necessary
• Repeat for a set number of repetitions. When done, do the same on the other side
Let’s dispel a quasi-myth: specifically, that cruising is intrinsically healthy. Don’t get me wrong—it could be, especially when compared to the commute-an-hour-to-work, sit-at-a-desk-all-day-while-munching-down-a-fast-food-lunch lifestyle that many cruisers left behind. But it can have its share of unhealthy aspects as well, particularly for those who are used to having plenty of physical outlets back on land.
Yes folks, I’m talking about exercise. No, sitting on the boat all day and then consuming multiple sundowners at night is not healthy, even if you were trimming a line or two while sailing or performing the odd boat chore. Activity does not equal exercise, and in some cases, where the same motions are repeated over and over, it could almost be considered anti-exercise. Keeping your body fit while living on a boat requires the same consistent and structured effort that it does on land, and to make matters worse, as cruisers, we have a couple of additional challenges to deal with.
Challenge one is time. Come on folks, is this even a legitimate issue? If there’s one thing we have on board a boat, it’s time. Just make a date with yourself and stick with it. Our experience is that the earlier in the day we get our exercise in, the less likely something will crop up to prevent us from completing our workout. And in the tropics, earlier is a lot cooler!
Challenge two is space. Yes, space on a small boat is at a premium, but with a bit of creativity, a few square feet in the cockpit, saloon or on deck will do. Trust me—it doesn’t take a lot of room.
Challenge three is equipment. Don’t worry guys, no full-blown gym setup or heavy barbells are required to exercise your body. Your body’s own weight can provide you with all the resistance you need. The sample workout that follows uses one simple piece of equipment that just about every boater has on board: a fender/bumper, or even better, a fender ball.
You spend hours each week on maintenance, keeping your boat in tip-top shape. Doesn’t your body deserve the same care and attention?
Dig out your biggest fender or fender ball and practice the following movements. Once you can do them with proper form, complete them in sequence. Begin the first week with one complete circuit of 10 repetitions per exercise. Do this three times during the week with a day’s rest between workouts (ex. Monday, Wednesday, Friday). The second week, add a circuit so that you complete exercises one through five, rest a minute or so and complete the series again. On week three, add a third set. Be consistent with your exercise sessions and you’ll net the positive rewards. Remember—you deserve it.
Mike and Rebecca Sweeney are full-time cruisers who are currently exploring the Caribbean on their catamaran Zero To Cruising. After divesting themselves of virtually all land-based possessions, they departed Canada in the summer of 2010, heading south. On their blog, www.ZeroToCruising.com, you can read a step-by-step account of how, in only two years, they went from being self-employed martial arts school owners to liveaboard cruisers. Once their livelihood, fitness has remained an integral part of the Sweeneys’ day-to-day routine. Rebecca regularly shares her fitness strategies on www.StrengthPLUS.ca and Mike has recently published a new Kindle book on Caribbean hiking. It is available for purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.to/S5JzvW