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How To Keep Windsurf Fit This Winter

10:29 27th November 2012 by Amy Carter
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The RYA’s Amanda Van Santen, Chief Instructor Windsurfing, investigates how some of her fellow windsurfers’ keep fit during the winter months….

As we get deeper into winter and the nights draw in, unless you work night shifts, Mr ‘after work sailing’ has left us for another year!

I was therefore intrigued to find out what other fellow sailors did to keep themselves fit and healthy through the winter month…….how many of us actually do keep sailing (!?), what do people get up to on those ‘less enticing’ days!!

Get kitted up

Get kitted up!

Many a dog walker has greeted me with strange looks as I get changed at the back of a van on a cold blustery windy day – I’m sure they must think we belong to some strange sect! But those of you who have braved those days, will agree, we often get blessed with some of the year’s best sailing!

But what if the weather really isn’t playing ball, when it really is just too cold to brave getting frost bite whilst getting changed behind the trusty van, or you best winter ‘get up’, just isn’t enough…….are there such days……….? I caught up with fellow RYA Windsurfing Coaches Jon Metcalfe, (The Army’s Windsurfing manager – a job in which you really can’t be seen to be a sissy!!) and Sam Ross (RYA OB Officer and Freelance Coach) to tell me what they will be up to this winter.

Windsupping less windchill and you stay dryer

Windsupping; less windchill and you stay drier!

Jon is an all winter sailor, with some great tops tips …….”put as much rubber on as possible, buy yourself a decent single lined winter suit, use mitts not gloves to avoid the cramp, a decent balaclava, split toe boots all the way and don’t live in a mobile home during winter, it tends to lead to colds and flu!!”

Getting back to the serious side, when sailing is just not on the cards Jon’s ‘next best’ alternative suggestion is mountain biking or building a house………whereas Sam ‘no pain, no gain’ Ross, the ‘you can always get out’ optimistic chap, gets on the water as much as he can during the winter months, equipping himself, like Jon, with key clothing such as palm less mits and a hood.

Sam Ross bailing out

Sam Ross demonstrating a new move on one of those glorious winter days!

With house building not really on Sam’s agenda right now, he spends winter days SUP’ing, as well as something we may not have all considered – Local Racing. “When you are exercising it’s not much different in temperature than going for a run ………..unless you fall in! I don’t just wait for the epic days to get out on the water, big sail weather is great during the winter. The wind-chill is a lot less and you are working hard blasting up and down with less likelihood of falling in” explained Sam.

“I tend to find it’s sweat in the wetsuit rather than cold water…… (Nice! Thanks for that Sam!), so bizarrely I tend to find it’s the lighter wind summer alternatives that make sure I stay active during the winter and don’t dry out.”

Supping gets you on the water rather than in it

Supping gets you on the water rather than in it

But if winter really isn’t your bag, make sure you don’t lose that windsurfing fitness or next years ‘come back’ will just be that little harder!! So for those of you snuggling up to a warm fire this winter, here’s a few health tips from Bonnie at BFit (bonnie@alphaplusuk.com) to help ensure that first dip in 2013 is a good one………

Don’t let winter be a time to hibernate, resulting in your wetsuit feeling a little tighter when you wiggle back in to it and your first time back on the board a struggle. Take the opportunity to work on a different side of your fitness that otherwise gets pushed to the side, as let’s face it time on the water will always come first!

Cross training is a great way to keep in good condition but also rest repetitively used muscles potentially preventing injury. So shake it up a bit and challenge your body to new fitness heights enabling you to spend longer on the water.

Go get muddy in the woods either a mountain bike or with a refreshing runs through the woods utilising a wide range of muscle groups as you duck under branches, hop over tree stumps and leap over puddles.

But what if the British weather really does force us indoors……….. spinning, a challenging cardio or endurance session are all good alternatives, giving a good body workout, getting the heart pumping and burning plenty of calories! Always try and balance it all out with a mixture of core strengthening, posture improving, back strengthening and overall body balancing workout in the form of Pilates.

The centre of the body below your bottom ribs and above your pubic bone is called your ‘powerhouse’ consisting of the abdominals, pelvic floor, muscles around the hip joint and through the lower back. Pilates looks to strengthen these muscles which in turn protects against potential injuries. Pilates will also develop and maintain flexibility and mobility through the joints all which are priceless when jumping back on your board.

And for my favourite part……….food!! Bonnie’s advice is to enjoy nutritious stews and soups full of vegetables containing vitamins and minerals needed to keep energy levels up and the immune system on top form. Instead of filling a casserole pot full to the brim with red meat plump it out with puy lentils which are low GI and provides slow burning carbohydrates for sustained energy as well as a good punch of protein and fibre.

So is 2012/13 going to be the year you brave a full winter on the water……..? Remember there are lots of us out there! If you need a little extra encouragement, make your winter even more enticing by joining a club and meeting lots of like-minded people, taking part in some local racing or perhaps taking a few sneaky coaching tips at by nearest training centre. Details of all of these can be found by visiting ‘Find my nearest’ at www.rya.org.uk

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