Balance your fitness in 2021

onboard fitness

By Leigh Bodin-Bitouzet
12 January 2021

Tips and tools for creating a balanced, onboard fitness program.

Keeping up with your fitness while working in yachting can be challenging. Seasons can be long and physically demanding, leaving you with a body too tired for strenuous exercise. With a few helpful tips, you can create a year-round fitness plan that keeps you moving in a balanced, healthy way.

Choose your exercise depending on your workload
In high season, you may not have the time, energy, or the personal space for high intensity training. In those times of higher stress and higher physical demands, choose an exercise routine that won’t overload your body. Even though stress can be categorized as both good and bad, your body cannot differentiate between the two. Although exercise is considered a good stress, it is still a stressor and will still have an effect on your body and emotional health. It may also increase your risk of injury. Think about using your exercise routine to help manage your stress, rather than add to it. This is a great time practice yoga, Piliates, flexibility and mobility work, lighter body weight work, as well as walking and swimming when available.

Plan your higher intensity sessions on your days off and down time
During your down time, whether it be a few days off or in between seasons, it is a great time to continue with a more rigorous fitness routine.

You can use your schedule of high/low-seasons to naturally undulate your training throughout the year. There will naturally be times to go light and de-load and other times where you can dedicate more time and physical energy to increasing your strength, endurance, and overall fitness level. Sleep and proper rest are vital to get the best performance from your body, so make sure to give yourself a few days of down time before you set off an intense training program.

Choose your exercise programs and equipment
I am all about helping my clients create a balanced fitness program. To create an overall balanced exercise program for the average exerciser or beginner, you want to include these session on a weekly basis:

  • 1-3, 30-60 minute strength training sessions
  • 1-3, 30 minute core-work sessions
  • 1-3,15-20 minutes power cardio/interval sessions
  • 1-2, 20-45 minutes steady-state cardio sessions, plus active recovery times (yoga, Pilates, walking, leisurely swimming)

You can combine these components to make your sessions more efficient and effective. For example, you can practice a strength session, followed by your core work. Or a lighter strength and core session, with a power/cardio/HIIT/ interval finisher.

Although it may be hard to carry and store equipment onboard the yacht, there are some very handy tools you can include that take up very little storage space:

  • Resistance bands: small loop bands and long loop bands
  • TRX suspension trainer
  • Kettlebells
  • Dumbbells
  • Swiss ball

Resistance bands: They are light, easy to store and travel with. They add a low-impact alternative to strength training and also provide more exercise variety when you have little other equipment on hand. Try out my band and body weight session HERE.

TRX/Suspension trainer: Adding a suspension trainer to your equipment will allow you to train the overall body. It provides an effective weight resistance workout, allowing you to build your strength, as well as get your heart rate up. It is especially beneficial in building up strong core muscles. It takes up little space and is very easy to travel with.

Kettlebells: As a StrongFirst level 2 certified instructor, this is one of my personal favorites. Training with kettlebells offers the perfect balance of strength and cardio, while taking up little space. It is an all-in-one compact gym, perfect for yachts. The hardstyle swing is one of the best conditioning exercises you can do. Swings deliver quick results in both fat loss and strength gains. You need very few kettlebells (even one will do if it is the right weight for you) and very little space to practice in. In addition to swings, kettlebells can be substituted for dumbbells in a variety of strength training exercises such as the overhead press, rows, squats, deadlifts, loaded carries, thrusters, and Turkish get-ups. They can also be used to increase flexibility and mobility. Russian Hardstyle kettlebell skills and techniques take a bit of time to learn, however, once you develop a good technique, you can maintain and improve your fitness level for years to come with this one simple tool. I recommend learning these skills with a reputable certified trainer.

Dumbbells: Dumbbells can be a great way to add variety to an exercise program while increasing your strength. If you have gym equipment available on the yacht and you have access to it, take advantage of using these strength tools. They can be great for targeting the arms, back, core, and leg strength.

Swiss ball: A Swiss ball can really elevate your core training to a new level. They can be deflated and easily stored when not in use. They can also be used for a variety of flexibility and mobility exercises, equally important to a balanced fitness program.

Vary your exercise program with your location and season
Varying your type of exercises with your location and season will also add a natural variation to your fitness routine. This can make it easier to consistently exercise all year round. Whether it be skiing in the winter in Europe or swimming the warm water of the Caribbean, use what you have at your fingertips to get the most enjoyment out of your fitness program. Take advantage of local trainers, programs and gyms when you have access to them to help keep you motivated throughout the year.

Don’t forget to have fun! Get a workout buddy
Use fitness as a crew/team building exercise. Find a fellow crew member on your own yacht or a neighboring yacht and set up a program together. Create inter-crew challenges or challenges with other yacht crew. Make a social, inclusive event. The more you enjoy your fitness, motivation will run high and you will be more consistent with it. The more consistent you are with your fitness program, the better your results will be, no matter the goal.

If you would like more help setting up a crew or individualized fitness program, please feel free to get in touch. I offer both online and in-person training sessions in the South of France and worldwide, for groups and individuals.

Take a look at these two demo sessions:

With thanks to fitnutritionfrance.com.

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