Though it requires a certain level of fitness to begin with, sailing can provide a fantastic workout. The idea of “going for a sail” makes many people picture European royalty lounging on luxury yachts. But sailing is not just a way to sit back and relax on vacation. Operating a sailboat takes skill — and can give you biceps and abs for days.
Like most full-body workouts, sailing requires balance, strength and agility. Trimming and raising sails, pulling them in quickly when they are dropped, and hoisting their bulk back up demands focus and strength. Some of the physical results include building muscle, endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
One man who knows this well is Harry Legum, founder of Annapolis Sailing Fitness, the first fitness studio designed to deliver training specifically for the sport of sailing. He’s trained sailors from curious beginners to advanced competitive racers.
“Perhaps no sport provides the combination of challenge, relaxation, and satisfaction that sailing provides,” says Legum. “Its unique mix of skill, physical and mental exercise and rich history has made it a special sport, a sport for a lifetime,” he adds.
But if sailing is such a workout in and of itself, why do they need to train in the studio as well? “The better conditioned you are, the more you can do and enjoy,” says Legum. “If you want to sail fun, sail fit!”
So, are you fit to sail? The Royal Yachting Association, an authority on all forms of boating (power or sail), recently released tips for increasing fitness levels for sailing from exercise physiologist Adrian Campbell.
Campbell’s first piece of advice: “Your aerobic fitness is the backbone to your physical performance for almost all sailing classes and positions. Without a decent level of aerobic fitness, your ability to sail and to race to your best ability is limited, as your body just cannot keep up with the physical demands that are being placed on it.” Campbell also recommends interval training, strength training (upper and lower body), circuit training, and machine weights — all of which increase the body’s ability to work the sails and maneuver a boat properly.
Mental toughness is another important factor in preparing oneself for sailing (and preparing more advanced sailors to race). Dr. Ben Chell, lead psychologist for the British Olympic Sailing Team emphasizes that one’s “ability to cope with high levels of pressure and stress are what can make or break a sailor’s performance.”
Though it doesn’t happen overnight, the marks of a seasoned sailor include full body physical fitness, the endurance of the Energizer Bunny, and the grace of a ballerina. If you’re interested in learning how to sail, contact the American Sailing Association, which was founded in 1983 with the mission to teach people to sail safely and confidently. They offer more information about sailing, including how to find the right sailing school for you at asa.com.
If you are planning to go sailing or have ever wondered what goes into it, check out this detailed article on jenreviews.com .
Last modified: July 17, 2017